What Happens to Cambridge Animals Over Winter Break?

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What Happens to Cambridge Animals Over Winter Break?

Nubz the Bearded Dragon

Nubz the Bearded Dragon

Camille Lamkin

Nubz the Bearded Dragon

Camille Lamkin

Camille Lamkin

Nubz the Bearded Dragon

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For many students, the idea of winter break conjures up images of fresh-baked cookies and steaming hot chocolate, but freshman Sara Beth Goud will be thinking about spinach.

 A mentor for Toby the guinea pig, Goud will be taking him home over winter break.

Goud is a student in Basic Agricultural Science, the first course in the Ag Sciences career pathway.

In Basic Ag, students can apply to be animal mentors, which means they perform different tasks in taking care of the menagerie of animals in the school’s agriculture science building, known to most students at “the Cave.”

At the beginning of the year, prospective mentors submit an application and resume with a ranked list of which animals they want to take care of. They are then are matched with animals based on their lists and availability.

At the beginning of the year, prospective mentors submit both an application and resume with a ranked list of the animals they wish to take care of. Following this, they are then matched with the available animals that best fits them.

This won’t be Goud’s first time taking Toby home, as she also took care of him over fall break.

The Cave has two bunnies, four guinea pigs a variable number of cats a blue-tongued skink and a bearded dragon. Goud’s first choice of an animal were the guinea pigs.

“I just wanted something simple, and it was really cute,” said Goud.

Goud cleans Toby’s cage before taking him home then her daily tasks are straightforward: change Toby’s water, feed him and give him special treats like sweet potatoes or carrots.

One student who didn’t look for simplicity and familiarity in animal choice, however, was sophomore Camille Lamkin, who took Basic Ag last year.

Lamkin mentored the CAVE’s reptiles and took home Nubz, the bearded dragon, three times: Thanksgiving break, winter break and for part of the summer.

“I originally just filled out the form to be a reptile mentor for Nubz, but over time, [sophomore Matthew] Dingmann and I moved up the ranks to manage the mentors of all the other reptiles,” Lamkin said.

Caring for the animals at home is very similar to caring for them at school. At school, however, the job is split between mentors from every class period of Basic Ag, while at home, one mentor takes on all the responsibilities.

“You’re doing the job you were assigned along with the requirements of the other students who take care of them during the day,” said sophomore Mason Fletcher, who is an animal mentor to the kittens the vet program fosters.

Because most of the animals in the CAVE are cage animals, meaning they don’t need to be taken out to get their exercise, they stay at the house of the mentor who takes them home.

That doesn’t mean that caring for them is boring, however. Other pets, for example, can change the way students care for the animals they mentor.

“I have a dog at home and I have to keep the guinea pig up on a table so my dog doesn’t get to it,” said Goud.

Lamkin also has a dog, Lily, at home, who didn’t get along with Nubz. “I had to make sure that my dog stayed upstairs and Nubz stayed downstairs because they were afraid of each other,” she said.

“Nubz would sometimes charge at Lily and Lily would run away,” she also said.

If pets are too much of an issue, students aren’t required to take home their animals.

Students who mentor the cats, for example, aren’t expected to take them home, but can if they want to. Since the school gets the kittens from a shelter, they go back there when nobody is at the school to look after them.

There are also a few other animals that mentors don’t sign up to take home.

One of the bunnies and two of the guinea pigs, Fletcher said, have owners at the school who take them home.

Letting animal mentors take their furry and scaly friends home is one of the ways the Ag Science program helps its students get more involved with the curriculum.

Taking home a reptile “really made my school breaks a fun and interactive time,” said Lamkin.

Who is your favorite CAVE animal?

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