Lisa Battig not only holds lessons in Chemistry and Advanced Placement Environmental Science (APES), but animals that have been given to her from over the years in her classroom for all to see.
It comes as no surprise that there are animals in an APES class, but Battig holds more than just typical lab mice. She has rats, a green anole, a leopard gecko, a ball python, two frogs, red ear slider turtles and her latest recruit, an iguana. All are kept safely in their respective tanks with their own ecosystems to keep them as comfortable as possible. Most animals were given to Battig to take care of and as a lover for all animals, she gladly took them in.
Monty, the ball python was given to her from a teacher, Scott Ragan and has been in Battig’s care for about eight years. She’s had the red ear slider turtles for 11 years, but found they were too difficult to take care of in the classroom due to filtration problems and were given away for students to adopt three years ago. Battig has had three rats over the years and one of them, Albee, was a popular addition to the classroom but unfortunately died last year. The leopard gecko wasn’t doing well in the classroom but thrived once taken into Battig’s home. He too passed away six months ago.
The frogs and green anole came from students biobottles, a project Battig gives to students every year to hold their own ecosystems. The iguana came from California State University, Long Beach from their science learning center.
“I think I end up being a repository for animals more than anything else. I have not purchased a single one of these animals. They were all animals people had and they ended up giving me, or asking, if I could take care of them. And I love animals so it’s not a burden in that respect,” explains Battig on why she took in these animals.
The latest recruit, Iggy Pa the Iguana was a big surprise for Battig as she soon came to realize how much work goes into taking care of an adult iguana. She was very nervous her first couple days in the classroom and came into Battig with a few ulcers in her mouth due to a calcium deficiency as a baby because her old owner did not know how to take care of her, almost having Battig to send Iggy away to a specialist. Iggy is getting better but Battig plans to bring Iggy into her own house to provide more space for her.
“They [adult iguana’s] need a lot of space, a lot of care and they are not an easy animal to take care of. They are a real commitment,” said Battig.
The animals are not only for students to enjoy looking at but they are great for teaching, especially when on the topic of ecology.
“They also serve a purpose for helping students getting accustomed to pets that they wouldn’t normally see. I know Monty has helped dozens of students get over their fear of snakes and learn to be more comfortable around them. He is so gentle and people tend to get comfortable around him easily,” said Battig.