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Keeping Bugs as Pets: Easy Insects for Kids to Keep

Updated on April 17, 2011
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I've always believed that every child should have a pet. Pets teach responsibility, accountability and long-term commitment. Additionally, pets offer a kind of instant gratification for learning. A child takes the time and effort to research their pet, they're rewarded with a happy, healthy pet. Education is a key to a successful life and understanding the world around us, therefore anything that instills a love of learning is priceless.

Despite the benefits, sometimes it's just not possible to keep a traditional pet. Maybe you live in housing that doesn't allow pets, maybe you don't have time to do everything your child can't for the animal, or maybe your child just isn't old enough and responsible enough yet for a traditional pet.

This is where bugs come in. Spiders and insects are truly fascinating creatures that can teach us so much about the natural world. Did you know that spiders have no muscles, that buffalo tree hoppers change color and grasshoppers shed their skins? To a child who is just learning these things, actually seeing examples of the things he/she learns adds a whole new fascinating dimension to the experience.

The first thing to remember about bugs is that they are NOT a free pet. These are living creatures, and no life is a "throwaway life". Sadly, there are far too many examples of this throwaway mentality and "cheap" creatures such as bugs, goldfish and small rodents often pay the price for ignorance and carelessness. Make sure you thoroughly research whatever bug you choose to ensure that you have the proper housing, light levels and food that fulfills all the creature's nutrition requirements. These are essential to ensuring the life in your care is safe and full, and generally costs a lot less than traditional pets.

Many people catch their own bugs after they've decided what they want to raise, but some choose to purchase theirs. Yes, you can buy bugs. Beneficial creatures such as daddy long legs spiders, ladybird beetles and praying mantises can be bought in a larval stage and hatched out. You may then select a few of the strongest babies to keep and release the rest outdoors in an agricultural area where they will be put to good use eating pest bugs. Some places sell caterpillars and the like so that people can observe the wonder of the transformation from juvenile to adult butterflies. Many types of crickets can also be purchased, though be sure you like the song of that type of cricket before acquiring one because they are quite loud in an indoor setting.

Spiders and insects do require a lot less time and energy than a cat, dog or fish, but just understand that they do take a little bit of time, especially during the stage of learning to properly care for them. However, these creatures can offer your child weeks or even months of educational enjoyment. Aside from research and observation, children also learn that all-important responsibility for another living creature which can help prepare them for the rigors of caring for a more demanding pet such as a cat or dog.

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