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.
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.
“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!