It bugs us, too

Yesterday was fish order day, and along with the fish we are supposed to get crickets.

Unfortunately, there were no crickets. Yes, we ordered. Yes, our supplier said she would get us what she could. But her supplier didn’t have any crickets big enough to ship.

It’s been four weeks now since we got a shipment of crickets. It’s been much longer than that since we got anything approaching our usual shipment. So the question is, what to feed those reptiles who eat crickets?

Let’s start with mealworms. We carry both small and large ones (super worms), and we’ve bumped up our mealworm order since the cricket troubles started. They’re fattier than crickets, with less protein for the weight, but they do contain some protein.

Omnivorous reptiles, such as beardies, can eat a bit more in the way of veggies and fruit.

Try catching insects, as long as you can be sure they haven’t been exposed to pesticide. Field crickets, moths, smooth-skinned caterpillars (hand-pick those tomato worms – lizards love ’em!), but not grasshoppers. The “tobacco juice” grasshoppers spit in self-defence is toxic. You can try earthworms, too.

Larger lizards can also eat pinky mice to get their protein.

There was, unfortunately, no way to foresee these problems with the cricket supply. We’ll just all have to hang in and improvise until things get back to normal.

Welcome to the Hotel Animalia

One of the things we started early on in the life of the store was a boarding service. Several customers complained that if they went away, there was nobody reliable to take care of their bird, ferret, or – surprise – snake.
We said, “We can do that!”
We don’t board cats or dogs, but we’ve had snakes, lizards, birds, rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs and fish. Yes, fish!

A gentleman came into the store a few years ago and announced that he had three discus which he’d owned for five years. He had to go to Europe on business, and he didn’t trust any of his family to be able to care for the fish. Would we do it?

We cleared a tank for his fish. Discus are a South American cichlid, and as adults they can be six, sometimes even eight, inches across. These three were almost five inches across, and beautifully marked. For two months we kept them, checking their pH daily.
Daily, and several times daily, we also had to tell people that they weren’t for sale. It’s the “instant gratification” gene – instead of buying a toonie-sized discus and raising it to adult size, people like to have the adult ones now.

We could have sold those fish ten times over in the time we had them. But we resisted, oh, yes. Their owner was delighted to find them alive and happy when he returned, and they’re still occasionally guests at the “Hotel Animalia”.

Other regulars are Kivi, a Senegal parrot, April, a sweet and gentle rabbit, and Eragon, a bearded dragon. Once or twice we also kept Cato, a Congo African Grey, whose vocabulary and obvious intelligence were impressive.

Oh, and you can check out any time you like.
But you’ll be back.