Keeping Exotic But Low Maintenance Pets: How to Keep Caterpillars As Pets
Caterpillars make one of the easiest, most educational and most low maintenance pets that one could have.
For children with respiratory diseases like asthma, caterpillars make more exotic pets than turtles or fish, and some can even be touched (by the brave!) without any harm, like the green color lime caterpillar in the picture here.
The caterpillar is a really easy pet to keep. You just need to feed it the leaves found on the plant that you found it on - that is the only way caterpillars are choosy. You don't have to give it water to drink as all the water content it requires come from the leaves.
If you are quiet you can hear the caterpillar chomping away on the leaves! Caterpillars tend to like young leaves, and they stay away from those that are drying or have dried out, unless they are faced with starvation.
To keep your caterpillar, put it in a transparent container or jar, and put the lid on. Poke some holes in the lid for air circulation. The lid container can be substituted with glad wrap and a rubber band.
Some caterpillars are not safe to touch, so be careful. Others change from one color to another, so look out for that transformation!
It is always a good idea to put a stick or branch into the container, for the caterpillar to climb onto when it turns into a pupa. Caterpillars tend to turn into a pupa on a stick or on one of the corners of your container lid, never on the ground. So be sure that your stick is either upright, or diagonally across the container, not flat across the container lid.
When you see that your caterpillar has curled up, or spun a huge web around itself (depending on the species) do not disturb it as this is a sign that it will turn into a pupa very soon.
When the pupa turns darker, just like in the picture, you can almost see the outline of your butterfly inside. This is the sign that the butterfly will emerge soon, and your patience has paid off.
The pupa should be place near the window, as the butterfly needs sunlight to dry its wings out when it emerges.
Be careful that the container that you choose has sufficient space for the butterfly to flutter around. Also, take care that the stick with the pupa does not have thorns that might hurt the butterfly's wings when it flies around.
It is a good idea to set your butterfly free after it emerges. Try not to keep it longer than 2 days in captivity. Also, take note that the butterfly will probably come back to lay its eggs in the tree that you found the caterpillar on, or on a tree of the same species. Should you want to start your own farm, some people feed their butterflies rotten fruits and sugar solutions.
Have fun rearing your caterpillars into butterflies!