Teacher’s Pets

Science teacher Kyla Burns hosts many animals for students in her classroom.

 Rango the chameleon sits on Arushi Suresh's shoulder.

Rango the chameleon sits on Arushi Suresh's shoulder.

Kaya Young, Staff Writer

At the front of room 221, Mango the hedgehog sleeps beneath a tiny tie blanket. At 7:20 a.m. on a Monday morning Mango was not eager to wake up. He remained curled up in a ball barely visible through the folds of his blanket. Eventually, he poked his nose out of the blanket and squinted at the students gathered around him.  “Mango is cute, but he’s a little sh*t,” Finn Eschilman ’20 said. 

Science teacher Kyla Burns has thirty-eight pets in her classroom. Everyday before and after school students flock to room 221 to check on the animals. The animals are the major focus of the zoology curriculum, but non-zoology students are also welcome. “They [the zoology students] bring animals to the elementary school for the second graders,” Burns said. 

The class pets allow students of all ages to learn about animals. Zoology students each choose their own creature that they will be responsible for throughout the year. “I can just say, ‘Hey can you take care of your hedgehog today?’” Burns said. All of Burn’s students help care for the animals. “People also take animals home over the summer. “In class on Fridays, I try to make at least fifteen to twenty minutes of time to have each class rotate who feeds what,”Burns said. “I give the kids the option if they want to help out.”

Even students not involved in any of Burn’s classes help care for the animals. Room 221 is always filled with students coaxing animals out of their tanks. Rango the chameleon sits on Arushi Suresh’s ’22 shoulder. “This is Rango,”Suresh said. “She’s moody. Rango likes to bite. We are trying to teach her not to hiss at people.”

Rango repeatedly attempted to jump off the lab table while refusing to eat breakfast. “Give it to Meatball or Marley, they’re always hungry,” Burns said. The bearded dragons, Marley and Meatball, munched happily on the breakfast Rango rejected.

In a nearby tank, Daniel, a seven inch blank snake languishes inside his log. “Daniel is a small boi,”Austin Ledesma 20′ said. “He’s cranky and loves to hide in sweatshirt hoods.” 

Daniel is not the only snake in the room.“We have six snakes in here,” Burns said. “There’s Peaches the corn snake, Spooky the milk snake, Sandy the sand boa, Piggy the hog nose snake and two ball pythons named Bee and Buzz.” Peaches, Spooky, and Piggy are popular with the students. They are often found draped across someone’s neck or peeking out of a sweatshirt pocket. 

“Peaches is an albino corn snake,” Cate Williams 20′ said. “She is really chill. You can just pet her on the head. I just show up before and after school to take care of the animals. Peachy is my favorite snake. She’s not the brightest bulb in the park.”

Hidden in the secluded back room, Wilson the tortoise tentatively chomps on a carrot. “I just give him kale and carrots because I really like watching him eat,” Ledesma said. “He’s so adorable. I love him, but he is also a little bit of an idiot. He’ll try to bite half of a carrot off in one bite and it will get stuck to the top of his mouth. He needs some help to pull it off his face.”

The science teacher’s pets allow students to escape their academic pressures and find a bit of joy, whether it be in a wad of blankets or hidden beneath a log.