Monday, October 4, 2010
If you are one of those folks who thinks it's important for kids to have pets to take care of and to enjoy, them you would definitely approve of the zoo I have at my house right now! I had pets when I was growing up, and I have always allowed my children to have pets too. I want them to enjoy animals, and I also want them to learn to take responsibility for taking care of other living creatures in hopes that they will become more responsible and thoughtful people.
We've had two outside dogs for many years. For the last six years, we've had a parakeet or two inside the house. For the past three years or so, we've also had at least one cat inside the house. (At the present time we have two inside cats.) We've had Beta fish off and on for years as well. (The cats sometimes eat them, so we have to start over. The cats didn't bother the fish for years, but once they acquired a taste for them, we had to give up replacing them. They became pretty expensive cat treats!)
If all those "regular" pets aren't enough, we have now added ants and Sea Monkies to our menagerie! My 7-year-old daughter and I are studying social insects in science this year, and we didn't want to become beekeepers, so we opted for an ant farm instead.
We read several articles on the internet telling how we can make our own ant farm, but all of them strongly caution that folks should not make ant farms using fire ants. Well, guess what kind of ants we "specialize" in here in the South? Yep.....fire ants! We searched high and low for some "sugar ants" to use for our farm and didn't find any. We even called friends and relatives to see if they had any in their yards. Alas, there were none to be found. Only fire ants are readily available here.
For that reason, we decided to go ahead and order some ants. We went ahead and ordered an ant farm as well, even though we could have made one pretty easily. When we got online looking for ants, of course Mary Grace saw all kinds of lovely ant farms that are available to order, so the idea of making our own became a little disappointing to her. We chose a really neat ant farm that wasn't too expensive and ordered it and our ants.
The ants we ordered are called "harvester ants." They are really big ants, so it turns out that we're really glad we ordered them. They are much easier to see clearly than fire ants or sugar ants would have been. We are really enjoying watching them build tunnels and little "rooms" in the sand. We accidentally bumped the ant farm pretty hard a day or so ago, and the poor creatures had to rebuild, but it's been lots of fun watching them!
We ordered our Sea Monkies from the same place that we ordered the ant farm from. I remember having Sea Monkies as a child, and I couldn't believe that my kids didn't know what they were! I decided that that just wouldn't do, so we ordered a tiny little container (with a little "castle" inside) for our Sea Monkies to live in. Then we put the little package of Sea Monkey eggs in there, followed the feeding directions, and now we have teeny tiny little bitty Sea Monkies swimming around in there! (By the way, did you know that Sea Monkies are really a certain kind of shrimp? They are.)
If you want to come visit us, I hope you don't mind pets! We promise not to charge you any admission when you visit our zoo. You might want to avoid coming at feeding time, though. :)