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Iguanas and Komodos and Skinks -- Oh, My!


Iguanas and Komodos and Skinks -- Oh, My! ... We're not talking Wizards of Oz here. We're talking Lizards and "Godz"! Build on the excitement of Godzilla's arrival in movie theaters! Come with Education World as we scamper through Web sites full of lizards. And don't forget to check out this week's LESSON PLANNING story, Godzilla Math ... and Other Lizard Activities!

Godzilla is causing a feeding frenzy at the movie box office -- so why not build on some of that excitement in your classroom? This week, Education World tours the world (and the Web) in search of lizards. Come with us as we check out some entertaining and informative sites!


The WWW has no shortage of Web sites devoted to the giant-est lizard of all times! Fans around the world have built cyber-shrines to this movie icon. Use any search engine to reveal an array of choices.

You might even turn some students' monstrous interest in Godzilla toward preparing a detailed presentation about the history of the beast, which first appeared on movie screens in 1954. Students will find TONS of resources!

And if it's facts and photos and fun related to the current movie release that students want, they might check out the official Godzilla Web site at The information on the Web site opens up all kinds of activity possibilities. How about a fun world geography lesson or two related to the movie?

Invite students who have seen (or will see) the movie create a map depicting Godzilla's trail of destruction from the South Pacific (Papeete, Tahiti) to Golfo de San Miguel, Panama; Great Pedro Bluff, Jamaica; and finally New York City.

For those who won't get to see the flick, why not use a world map to track Godzilla, the movie? The official Godzilla Web site includes a listing of worldwide release dates for the film. Mark each of Godzilla's openings on a world map with a pushpin. String yarn from place to place based on the release dates. Students can track the movie release for the next four months as it opens in the U.S., then Canada, and Singapore. Continue as the movie moves to Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and at least a dozen other places (including Estonia and Bulgaria)!


Iguanas and Komodos and skinks -- all members of the lizard family of reptiles -- have a huge presence on the Internet. Students can learn all about the habits and habitats of these fascinating creatures with a few clicks of a mouse!

And teachers will find bunches of activities related to the Web sites mentioned below in this week's Education World LESSON PLANNING story, Godzilla Math ... and Other Lizard Activities.

For the youngest students, Herp Pictures is like a trip to lizard heaven! Divided by herp familes, the site's lizard section includes several dozen beautiful photos. You name it, it's here! From the Texas horned lizard to the Eastern collared lizard. Also, a wide variety of chameleons, basilisks, skinks, geckos, iguanas, anoles, Komodos, and more.

Another great picture site is the National Zoo Photo Library's Reptiles and Amphibians Page. The current collection contains 37 great photo images!

As you move up the grades, and as students can handle some more text, there are some wonderful sources. Don't miss Herp-edia: The Online Reptile Encyclopedia. Click on Lizards then on your lizard of interest. (You have 19 choices!) You'll get a long list of species names, many of which offer links to photos and "care sheets."

Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo offers a Reptiles and Amphibians page. View a list of their collection. Many of the animals are in hypertext; you can click on the text and be introduced to photos, facts, and figures about the beaded lizard, green iguana, leopard gecko, and more.

Another excellent site, this one more detailed (advanced) than the others, is PetSupport USA. A special section of the site is devoted to reptiles. The reptile database includes pages with information about ten different lizards. The database continues to grow.

The most definitive site, and my favorite site, devoted to lizards is Melissa Kaplan's Herp Care. The site is mostly text, so I don't recommend it for students up to grade 4. But it's chock full of information, a must-read for anyone considering the purchase of a lizard. Kaplan doesn't pull any punches when it comes to having lizards as pets. Lizard ownership is not for everyone, Kaplan informs. It's not even for most people who go out and buy iguanas or skinks or water dragons! Owning a lizard is a commitment. It requires lots of up-front study and preparation. It requires space. Be sure to read her introduction which links to special discussions on issues such as So you think you want a reptile? and Thinking about a reptile for your classroom? Kaplan also offers a page that refutes a handful of myths about reptiles. But, most important of all, are her pages devoted to lizards and a special page about the care of iguanas.


Looking for pages dedicated to a specific kind of lizard? The WWW has lots to offer!

If iguanas are your students' interest, check out the Dupree's Home Page. Dupree is a green iguana! You can see him live on the IguanaCam if it's up and running. You can also see photos from Dupree's sixth birthday party! Dupree's page also links to many other iguana sites. If you're an ardent iguana fan, be sure to check out Iguana Iguana: A Newsletter for Lizard Lovers. Or if it's news about the controversy surrounding iguana ownership that you're looking for, you might read a couple CNN stories, The Nightmare of the Iguana or Iguanas, A Trendy Pet in the U.S., Are Becoming Endangered.

Most kids are fascinated by Komodo dragons. If your kids want to explore Komodos, send them to the Toronto Zoo first. The zoo's Komodo Dragon Pages are a great place to start. Also, you'll want to take a look at the Komodo pages on the Endangered Species Classroom Web site. Komodo expert Rhoda Bryant answers questions about Komodos on Living Dragons, one episode in the Discovery Channel's Wild Discovery Wired series.

Gila monsters are another kid favorite. Check out the information on the Gila monster on the Desert USA Web site or see Gila monster pages on the Sedgwick County Zoo (Wichita, Kansas) or Zoological Society of Philadelphia Web sites.

Students will find lots of sites that focus on the Texas horned lizard. Start off with the page from Texas Parks and Wildlife. And don't miss a page packed with great photos, Horned Lizards of the Net, from the Texas Horned Lizard Conservation Society!

If we haven't mentioned your lizard-of-choice, just plug the name of the species into your favorite search engine and you'll be amazed at what you'll find!

Article by Gary Hopkins
Education World® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright © 1998 Education World

Related Resources


  • Just for Educators From my favorite herp lover (and herp Web site creator), Melissa Kaplan! If you are a teacher, educator, scout or 4-H leader, you might find some things of interest on this minipage. Here you will find articles and information on topics of interest such as the special needs of classroom reptiles. The page includes lists of Kaplan's favorite herp- and environment-related picture books, hands-on children's museums, and more.
  • Classification A teacher-created activity for teaching the topic of animal classification to grades 4-6. From the ERIC Web site.
  • Endangered Species: There's Still Time Another lesson plan from ERIC. This one is an Internet-based lesson for the middle elementary grades.
  • Reptile Resources for Teachers From the San Diego Natural History Museum, this site offers information about a wide variety of resources available to teachers.
  • Reptiles! Reptiles! Reptiles! An Internet-based activity from the South Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium (SCR*TEC).
  • The Endangered Species Classroom "Out of the classroom, into the wild" is the tagline for this group's Web pages. Offered here are a wide variety of activities to get students thinking critically about endangered species. Activities fall under three main headings: Solve Problems and Take Action; Inquire, Analyze, and Compare; and Use Your Artistic Imagination.

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