The Cycle of Life

In addition to our Best Friend, our home is blessed with a pet lizard named Bitsy. This is Bitsy:

Bitsy was preceded by a bearded dragon named Spike. Spike ate fruit, vegetables, and, every two weeks, about a dozen crickets. We had Spike for two years and never really got attached. (We inherited him from a friend whose son had likewise lost interest.) Last winter we rehomed Spike with friends who think he’s cool.

Meal worms (image from the Baltimore Examiner; click to read article)

Bitsy originally belonged to Kate, my “lady who does.” She bought her a few years ago for her granddaughter, who never showed the slightest interest and never even took her home. Now Kate was eager to divest herself of the reptilian responsibility. Meanwhile, The Youngest has a thing for Bitsy.  We went to Kate’s apartment one New Year’s Day, when Bitsy was still a wee thing that fit in the Youngest’s palm. Though Bitsy is considerably bigger now, The Youngest bonded when Bitsy was little. She kept begging to visit the silly lizard, Kate wanted to get rid of the thing, and, in a moment of weakness, I agreed to the gift.

I say a moment of weakness because unlike Spike, Bitsy isn’t low-maintenance. Her habitat has to be kept at a certain humidity (Spike is a desert dragon, Bitsy tropical), so the cage has to be sprayed twice daily. And Bitsy doesn’t care for fruits and vegetables (even thought they’re supposed to comprise 25% of her diet). She eats two things: meal worms and crickets, which I didn’t know until I came to get Bitsy from Kate. I don’t like live feeding, and the meal worms totally gross me out. I called the Spouse in a panic, who said not to worry, he would take care of Bitsy. So every week or so The Spouse put a small bowl of meal worms in her terrarium, and every two weeks she’s supposed to get about two dozen crickets.  I say “supposed to,” because we haven’t bought crickets in a while, for reasons that will become clear in a moment.

A few weeks I noticed that the substrate in  the enclosure was moving. I assumed some crickets were hiding or trapped under there, and went on my way. Then, about two weeks ago, I saw this crawling around.

The Darkling Beetle (picture courtesy of

“This” is a darkling, or MEAL WORM, beetle. Meal worms, in case you didn’t read the link above, aren’t worms at all– they’re the larval stage of this particular beetle. Some of Bitsy’s food supply had escaped, “pupaed,” and emerged in ADULT FORM. Of course, these adults did what adults do– laid eggs, which in turn hatched into meal worms, which were too numerous for Bitsy to consume, and therefore morphed into pupa, emerged as beetles… get the drift?  The lizard tank is now a living, breathing, life cycle experiment.

On the upside, we never have to buy meal worms anymore. On the downside, this has got to be the most thoroughly disgusting thing I’ve ever seen. I am an animal lover, but I do NOT want meal worms as pets. (I don’t even believe in keeping lizards as pets, but I didn’t buy her, and it’s not like I can return her to the wild.)

The older girls are completely repulsed as well. We are in the process of trying to convince The Youngest that really, Bitsy might be happier elsewhere, with people who also like meal worms, but she remains steadfast in her devotion. Every time I look in there to check on Bitsy, the substrate seems more and more squirmy.

(Why don’t we just dump the whole mess in a garbage bag and start fresh, you ask? Good question. The answer is I’m not going NEAR it, and the Spouse… yes, well, anyway… His solution is to find Bitsy a new family, and good luck with that, I say.)

So we have the most content, well-fed water dragon in the world, who is growing in leaps and bounds. We have a small child stubbornly clinging to a pet with a revolting diet. We have two children asking us when we’re getting rid of it. We have one adult who finds it all amusing, and one adult who wishes the other adult would be more ADULT and CLEAN OUT THE TERRARIUM.

And we have Our Best Friend, whose barf-eating habits don’t seem as vile anymore.

This post is part of the Pet Blogger Hop; click here to join the fun! We will return to our regular dog-centred posts next week!


About one person's view

I'm the mother of three girls, three cats, and a dog. All need constant attention, but only the dog likes to go for long walks!
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16 Responses to The Cycle of Life

  1. Silverycloud says:

    Gosh, that is gross. Aren’t you afraid that the beetles will leave the cage and start mingling with the humans? You, my friend are braver than I.

  2. Chessie says:

    I love this writing! I am mentally rolling in the aisle! Girl…this was the best blog entry I’ve read in a week! THANK YOU for giving me such a great way to end and start my day! 12.30 AM! 🙂

  3. Kari says:

    Pretty sure I couldn’t deal with the bugs


  4. Langley says:

    I love all animals but the bugs would be tough for me. 🙂
    Hearts in Fur Coats

  5. The Hook says:

    Hilarious post from the pet world! Good job.

  6. thatjenk says:

    Bahahahaha. Oh man. That is hilarious. And disgusting. Seriously. That beetle photo made me itchy.

  7. lexy3587 says:

    Does it eat the beetles as well? because that would be optimal… eat beetles instead of crickets = entire circle of feeding happening within the cage = you never ever have to interact with crickets or meal-worms again?
    I like the idea of lizards and snakes… but don’t think i could deal with the mealworms and mice and things.

    • Apparently they don’t eat the beetles ’cause they’re too crunchy. I have a friend who owns a snake. She buys frozen mice and defrosts them in a dedicated microwave used only for snake food. I think I’d lose my lunch rolling defrosted dead mice into a cage for snake to consume whole… though I do like snakes, they’re so cool.

  8. Kristine says:

    Ew ew ew ew ew!

    The one creature I can’t stand is a worm. Vile nasty things, they are. I have no idea where my loathing started but even normal earth worms give me chills. Every time it rains, which is very often in this city, and the worms all slither over the sidewalk, it is all I can do to not totally freak out.

    I actually once thought a lizard would be a fun pet. Thank you for clearing that up. As cute as Bitsy is, I think I am good for now.

    • Spike only ate crickets… but somehow, a few managed to escape now and then, and my Oldest found one in her room. As she didn’t like Spike to begin with, this brought her loathing to a new level.

      On the up side, they never try to take over a Tim Horton’s. 😉

  9. what a great story! poor bitsy sounds like she’s being crowded out of the neighbourhood!

    i never knew meal worms were the larvae of a beetle and that certainly doesn;t endear them to me any more. i hate worms with a passion, even knowing they are the stuff of life and the good earth. i think i’d be moving out of the house if i had one of those tanks in here because who knows? could those things squirm their way out? yeeeesh! brrrr and ekkk! :p

  10. BM says:

    Lol lol. This is very well written. I can just visualize the whole scenario.

  11. Pingback: Neighbours, Part I | The Dog Park

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