It so happened that Herman came to me one Friday evening, wide eyed and very excited. “Miss Davies said I can get a stick insect!”
“O she did, did she?”
“Yes, all we need is a fish tank and we have a fish tank so we can get one, right?”
“You probably mean an aquarium?”
“Yes, an aquarium. Can we get one? Can we...?”
We don’t have an aquarium. We do have something that once housed a little gold fish for a short time but the thing was so small that Frankenstein could practically just swim forwards and backwards and hardly turn around. But my budding entomologist believes that it qualifies as a fitting habitat for a stick insect. Now I know something about sticks, and I know something about insects but not much about a stick insect. Fortunately I know something about computers and Google so before long we were gaining expert knowledge about stick insects, and the keeping thereof. (Did you know that a mommy stick insect can produce baby stick insects without a daddy being anywhere in the picture? And here I hoped I could use the stick insect project for more than one educational purpose, like conveying the facts of life, but that won’t work very well...)
Apparently this is a fairly common hobby amongst the younger generation here. It reminded me of the countless silk worms that we brought home from school in shoe boxes and then raided the neighbour’s mulberry tree for leaves to sustain the feeding frenzy. Here the popular creatures are stick insects and, believe it or not, cockroaches. Later I was relived to read that it is not your standard “Parktown Prawn” cockroach variety against which I am perpetually engaged in war. This one is different but according to me, if you spell his name “cockroach”, then it must die. Therefore if we are to get a pet critter, it will have to be a stick insect.
|This is what his stick insect will look like...|
(Image from natgeotv.com.au)
I thought it may be wise to first consult with the Minister of Finances and Home Affairs before making stick insect promises that I may not be able to keep. Fortunately mum said it was fine, provided he doesn't get any ideas of upgrading to a hairy spider or slimy snake.
The first hurdle was overcome, but apparently we MUST get the stick insect on Monday after which, according to Miss Davies, they won’t be available any more. This posed a problem, because a tiny fish bowl won’t work for a stick insect. It was really difficult to explain, and even more difficult for Herman to understand, that we won’t be able to get a stick insect before first building a proper stick insect house. We don’t want the stick insect to suffer the same fate as the goldfish and besides, the fish bowl doesn't have a lid so it won’t be long before he (or she, I have no idea how to tell!) seeks greener pastures. No, before we get a stick insect we must first build a stick insect house. Herman went to bed with a few tears that night. I promised him we will build a stick insect house soon and before long we walked into Bunnings once again, piling in wood and screws and flyscreen mesh. I had a look on the internet and saw that many pet shops sell stick insects, and there is a guy who sells stick insect eggs in packets of ten so we will be able to get him something once we were ready.
After Bunnings we had to visit the pet shop because when Herman’s older sister heard all the talk about stick insects and fish bowls she insisted on filling the empty fish bowl space with another fish. I gave in to her request, with the thought that our house will soon start to resemble Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary. While all the fish were carefully examined, evaluated and compared in the finest detail, Herman began to look around and before long his beloved stick insect was well and truly forgotten as he fell in love with ‘n bearded dragon, a lizard-like creature which I must admit was one of the cutest little things in that pet shop, and with a personality to match.
(Image from www.petsintouch.com)
“No, definitely not!” was my answer to the inevitable question, “we don’t have suitable accommodation for that thing either and we have just returned from Bunnings with supplies to build you a stick insect house and to buy an aquarium with the lizard is way too expensive and where will you get all the bugs to feed him and before we get one we'll need to prepare mum for it first and let’s stick to the stick insect for now and see how it goes and all that.” It’s at this point where I could see his mind starting to work in overdrive making plans. He will buy a whole lot of stick insect eggs and once they're hatched he will sell them and with all his profit he will buy an aquarium and with it a bearded dragon. I reminded him that not everyone will want to buy a stick insect and besides not all the eggs will necessarily hatch. It’s at that point where the little fellow surprised me with his wisdom when he replied, “yes, don’t count your stick insects before they’re hatched”. I couldn't have said it better.
So this is where we stand. We have everything with which to build a cage that any self-respecting stick insect would be proud of, we must just start. I get the feeling this will turn out like all the other little “projects” that I've started in the past - a lot bigger and more interesting than anticipated. I will keep you updated as and when it happens, so watch this space...
|The newest member of the family and resident of the 'Fish Bowl' - a red fighter fish named Fiesty|