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How to start keeping creepy-crawlies at home

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I have a friend whose daughter is extremely bright (I think) and interested in creepy-crawlies (constantly collecting them and examining them and prodding them until they die, unfortunately, despite being stung and bitten and who knows what else). 


Because of other behavioral issues (no dx as of now), I suggested that she encourage her kids' focus on these things to give her something to really do with her time and energy (there is an awful lot of it), and even create a space (maybe in a garage, and not her home!!) where her daughter can start keeping/raising something(s). She agreed that it might be a really good idea at this point, but has no idea where to start (and definitely doesn't want them in the house right now).


I know there's some experience here with snakes, and so thought I would ask how to help a young person (5 yo) start some sort of insect/reptile farm/pet/home (I have no idea what to call it, even)? I might pop over to the GE board and ask, but I feel like we need advice from people who might have a better idea of what would satiate an extremely "intense" child, if you get my drift.

Edited by 4kookiekids

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The books, Pet Bugs and More Pet Bugs, are excellent, imo. Lots of info about keeping creatures you find around your neighborhood. Just be sure the girl knows which bugs not to collect in your area -- praying mantises and some butterfly caterpillars come to mind.


Insect Lore sells popular bugs to raise, plus various habitats. A regular pet store is the best place to aquariums, as they cost a lot to ship. If you browse in a good teacher store, you'll find ant farms and so on. Oh, Rainbow Resource has a good selection of insect stuff. Carolina Science has more creepy things than I would want, lol, big selection.


The Practical Entomologist is a good book, though not a kid book.

Edited by Alessandra

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If she wants something practical or more longterm, she could partner with lizard or Amphibian keepers and raise feeders-crickets, Dubia roaches, waxworms, mealworms/superworms and have a place to send the offspring. Ofherwise, watching Insect life cycles can quickly lead to a lot of insects! You may also be able to borrow some to observe (tarantulas, Scorpions, hissing cockroaches, giant millipedes) if you connect with exotic pet keepers. I strongly encourage pet sitting and borrowing creatures to observe over having an ever-growing collection at home.


Please make sure you know what species are native and do not release anything outdoors that is non-native. Bait shops are good sources for releasable insects/annelids, since they have to follow the state game and wildlife regulations. And they are a LOT cheaper than Insect Lore or Carolina biological.



We did a pretty big study of entomology a couple of years ago: here's what we used:

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I do not recommend keeping Reptiles or amphibians for a 5 yr old. They're either too big for a child that age to handle safely, or too fragile. This is the zoo, nature center, reptile night stage. Here's an outline of our Herp experiences that largely do not involve keeping.

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