Biology Teacher rescues a dragon

Kerstin McClosky, Staff Writer

Not all dragons are colossal and mighty as proven by a four-year-old pygmy bearded dragon named Dart. Dart was given a second chance at life by Meagan Morse, biology teacher, welcoming Dart into her care with open arms in April 2018.

Morse was initially interested in getting an iguana. She attended East Texas Baptist University, and the school had a big iguana who roamed around the building. When she saw Dart being advertised for sale on Facebook, that all changed.

She started getting deeply concerned when she kept seeing his image pop up on her feed over time. Once she had the chance to meet up with Dart’s previous owner, she realized she absolutely needed to take Dart into her care, he was malnourished. He had only been getting fed three crickets a day, nothing else.

“I did a little research and three crickets a day is the starvation diet, ” Morse said. “It went from a free classroom pet to a rescue situation. He was malnourished and underweight.”

Due to only having a taste for crickets during the first few years of his life, Dart didn’t eat his greens when he arrived at his new home. He had to be bribed with crickets to eat vegetables.

Today, Dart is as healthy as can be. His weight is closely watched, and as a result, he has gone up from 146 grams to a hearty 250 grams thanks to Mrs. Morse and her ambition to rehabilitate him. His growth is most likely stunted due to his malnutrition, but he has come a long way since he was rescued by Mrs. Morse.

“I just hope there are not any long-lasting effects of his malnutrition.”

Dart is, of course, Mrs. Morse’s assistant. He loves the students, serving as a way to educate them and reward them for doing their classwork. He hangs out on students’ desks, sometimes pooping on one, but nonetheless, his presence lifts up the spirits of everyone in the class. Using his tongue, he also likes to play the iPhone app Ant Smasher with the kids, but it, unfortunately, doesn’t keep his attention for too long.

“I’m impressed with how social he is. For being unsocialized for the first four years of his life, he’s not aggressive, and he’s cuddly, which I didn’t expect after finding out that he had been kept in an aquarium all his life and they never got him out,” Morse said.

Despite being a cool looking pet, Dart and other reptiles like him require a lot of research and hard work. It costs $15 a week to feed Dart, and he needs to be kept warm because of his cold-blooded nature. Sadly, not everyone knows how much it takes to care for a reptile. Dart is an unfortunate victim of this kind of negligence, he was lucky to have a chance at recovery. People like Mrs. Morse are the heroes these animals need, and Dart’s story can serve as a lesson to many.

“I think I would say if you want a reptile or any animal, research before you get them,” Morse said. “The people that had him for the first four years of his life clearly didn’t research and didn’t know how to take care of him properly, and because of their inability or unwillingness to find out how to take care of him properly, he will always be small.”