For some, a bug in your house is no bad thing! In fact, in parts of the world like Japan, it’s just as common to keep an insect as a pet, as it is a cat or dog. What’s more, many in fact make great pets, that are educating for children, easy-to-keep and rewarding in many ways.
But first, what is a bug?
Simply put, it’s a small insect, such as; a beetle, ladybug, spider, butterfly, ant, wasp and cricket, to name just a few. It’s estimated that there are 10 quintillion insects alive at any time (don’t worry, only 91,000 live in America!).
1. Which bugs make good pets? There are a wide range of insects that make great pets, here are just a few:
• Crickets are fun pets to have. Not only do they make fascinating noises, they are easy to care for. They just require a container with soil and a cheesecloth on top to stop them from jumping out. You can chuck them your leftovers, such as wet bread, fruit and lettuce and they’ll be happy! These are already popular pets in the Far East and Mediterranean, where their comforting sounds can be heard come dark.
• The most common insect pets in the United States are ants. Housed in a commercial ant farm, these can easily be started with insect starter kits. But they do require specialist care and there are some regulations around moving them between states.
• The Hungry Caterpillar is a much-loved children’s book, which you can bring to life with your own pet caterpillar, or two. Little ones will love learning about their transformation, as you see them evolve from insects to beautiful butterflies.
• Crawly, not creepy, Stick Bugs are delightful to keep. Their camouflage ability makes them interesting to find, and with a 1-1.5 year life span, they never outstay their welcome! Easy to look after they can graze on leaves and make very little mess.
• This pet is certainly not for everyone, but for those with an open-mind, the Madagascan Hissing Cockroach is a fascinating house friend. Kids are intrigued by their ability to make hissing noises while being so small, and they are also extremely low maintenance to keep.
• Owning a tarantula will encourage your family to be respectful of spiders. These are especially interesting for children to be surrounded by, since their skin sheds and they have an incredible way of moving.
2. High on Hygiene. As with any pet ownership, having an insect demands good hygiene. Kids especially will be intrigued with these creatures, and will want to handle them. This is a good way to teach little ones to wash their hands before and after touching pets.
3. Equipment. You’ll also need to get secure, specialist kits to house your insect family. Thankfully, there’s no shortage of these, which can be found online, at pet stores, large supermarkets and garden centers. Be sure to invest in the right equipment, since some insects need specific conditions to flourish in, from the right light to the right temperature.
4. Danger. It’s important to take care while handling certain insects. Advance training in to handling pets such as certain spiders or roaches is advisable. Some of these animals might be venomous, so it might be worthwhile having a first aid kit nearby, should the worst happen. Needless to say, these pets need to be kept out of reach of guests, children and other animals in your house.
5. Upkeep. And finally, before investing in an insect and the necessary equipment, do some background research. Certain insects need more upkeep than others, for instance a land crab requires a tank set up to mimic their natural environment. This way, you can ensure a long and happy addition to your household that all the family will enjoy!