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Bearded Dragon and Crested Gecko Are a Hit with Kids
Spike the bearded dragon was a hit with kids and parents alike.
Tuesday, June 4, 2024


Spike, the bearded dragon, has a little leash to go on walks. He loves to be held—so much so that his family often wraps him in an electric blanket when they can’t do the honors.

And 7-year-old Spike was one of the celebrities of the recent Bug Zoo Festival at Sawtooth Botanical Garden as he happily allowed children to pet him and let him climb on their arm.

“When he’s mad or frightened, he puffs his chin out to seem bigger—that’s how his species gets the name bearded dragon,” said owner Lee Edgerton. “He loves to take drives—I’ll put him on the dashboard in a suction cup or he’ll sit on my lap.”

Marco Romero let youngsters pet and even hold his python.

Marco Romero brought his python to the zoo, while others introduced baby tarantulas and praying mantises.

“I used to bring a Mexican Red Knee Tarantula,” said Ann Christensen. “Kids could even put it on their heads.”

Lucas Levig and Landon Jacobs were among dozens of children who constructed bug houses out of materials like paper straws, colorful blue duct tape, pine cones, pipe cleaners and dried glass.

“I have no idea what kind of bug will want to live in it,” said Jacobs, as he finished what looked like a rocket about to blast off

Ava Boeger checks out a cup nest, which is the most common bird nest and can be made of mud, twigs, dung, spider webs, caterpillar silk, Cellophane and aluminum foil.

Eileen Reiss showed youngsters how to make dragonflies, ants on a log and butterflies out of apple slices, blueberries and other fruits and vegetables.

And she showed them a variety of nests, including one the size of a ping pong ball and another made out of stringy blue recycled fence plastic. Earth-hole nests are created inside the earth, while swiftlets make their nest out of saliva, which happens to be very good glue when mixed with mud, as well, she noted.

“Birds are really cool because they can make nests out of anything,” she told a group of kindergarten students from Hemingway STEAM School. “Have you see the swallow nests on the sides of buildings?”

Elli Bernacchi, who brought her 11-uyear-old grandson Luka Smith, seemed most impressed with a praying mantis named Hopper.

Six-year-old Inka Berends uses a magnifying glass to inspect a moth at the Bug Zoo.

“They can eat a hummingbird. And they can wrap their long legs around other critters as they eat them,” she said.

Sheridan Britt helped supervise her daughter’s class from Hemingway STEAM School.

“Any type of exploration is important,” she said. “The kids come here and they’re so excited to see the daffodils—and the bugs, too. Each one of them did a research project and they all ended up doing something on animals, wildlife.”

Kindergarten teacher Laura Barnhardt concurred: “It’s important to get kids outside and explore.”

Lucas Levig built a bug house out of paper straws and other materials, along with his friend Landon Jacobs.

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