Wintertime Bugs

Filed Under: SeasonalExotics

There are a lot of little things that we have to deal with day to day in the pet business.  The toughest part of a full line pets store (one that has live animals as well as supplies) is dealing with live animals. 


Taking care of one pet can sometimes be a challenge, right?  Some families have multiple pets, and even multiple species.  And those with a "zoo" might have 6 or 7 animals.


Well, we have, at any time, about 60 different reptiles, 30 small animals, hundreds of fish and thousands of feeder bugs.  All things that need to be fed, watered, cleaned and cared for.


This time of year provides some big challenges for moving these animals around.  Especially cold blooded ones, the bitter cold makes it tough to ship them.  Fish, even with the styrofoam containers that are used, can freeze in shipping if left out on the runway too long while unloading the plane.  If they don't freeze, they can get chilled and end up getting sick.  So there are times when we can't have every type of fish available in our tanks, due to these issues.  Reptiles doubly so, because they don't have that body of water to hold the temperature up, so it can get cold quick.


Feeder bugs are a huge problem when temperature drops.  Unlike fish, bugs are shipped in  simple cardboard boxes, with heat packs (like the little handwarmer pouches you can buy at the sporting goods stores).  They need to breathe, so some ventilation is required, which poses a problem when the only air available is -30c.  And they have very little bodymass, so there isn't a lot to keep them warm.


Most cricket farms either won't ship, or won't guarantee live arrival when the temperature is -10C or colder.  Which means, when we have a cold snap, it may be weeks between days that they can be shipped.  Depending on the supplier, that can be made worse by having a limited number of days that they will ship on.  And if they do ship, and the bugs freeze in transit, it can mean waiting another week for a replacement shipment to come.


Summer also poses a problem, excessive heat can kill animals in transit.  The largest sizes of crickets have problems with the heat, and you don't want to be in the room when a box of 1000 ripe crickets is opened.  Phew.


It is easy to take availability for these feeder animals for granted, and most of the time, it is not an issue.  But there are some animals that have to have live food, and need to be fed daily, and in these cases, we recommend that the pet owner make sure they have 2 weeks worth of food on hand at all times in the coldest winter months and hottest summer months. 


Keeping crickets avile at home isn't difficult, if you have the right equipment.  Many people just us an ice cream bucket and some potato.  In a pinch that will work, but it is hard to have enough ventilation, and potatoes can get moldy pretty quick, and aren't all that nutritious.  Cricket keepers and cricket food are not that expensive, and will pay for themselves many times over by keeping the crickets healthy and alive.



Leave a Comment