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The adventures of Mr. Cricket

Ike and Liberace, my new bearded dragons, are insectivores. That means that they eat insects - crickets, mealworms, wax worms, and that weird-looking mosquito I caught with their feeding tongs - and some vegetables. As a vegetarian myself, I have been focusing on getting them hooked on the vegetables because I always have them in the fridge. Normally, I don't keep crickets around for snacking.

However, one strange thing about their diet is that it needs to be pretty high in calcium. Crickets are certainly not calcium-fortified. While there are vegetables that are high in calcium (like broccoli) not very many of the leafy greens that they eat are rich in the stuff. I don't usually keep turnip greens. It's been a bit of an adjustment living with these creatures. I guess now I know how it feels for my family when I visit and don't eat what they're having. Sorry, guys.

Oh yeah, and on top of it all, I can't just stop at the pet store each day and purchase crickets for the lizards. Because they're not so nutritiously sound, I have to make sure that the crickets have been fed properly and then, basically, coated in calcium powder. My crickets get fed a mixture to "gut load" them (fill their bellies with protein and calcium), hydrated with oranges and gel (also loaded with calcium), and then dusted with powder right before feeding. Perhaps I should just train Liberace and Ike to drink milk. Who am I kidding? I'm a bachelor, and I'm sure my milk is expired.

ANYWAYS, upon acquiring the reptiles, I took some tips on how to keep their cricket supply steady and prepared. Debbie's suggestion to order online from The Wormman (good prices, strange name, horrible website) would have been a good one if I'd remembered that it was a holiday. He only ships out on Mondays and Tuesdays, but because of the holiday, all orders for the week had to be in by 9:00 am Monday morning. I didn't make that cutoff, though I did rush home every day to look for his package. When Friday rolled around and I still didn't have any crickets (other than the few dozen I'd bought while I waited), I finally stumbled across this. It seemed that I'd have to go find some more crickets locally.

I was very tired of driving all the way into Monterey for dragon food, and I sure wasn't going to risk the local pet store superchain again. Then I remembered that there was a little shop almost across the street! Sweet! I walked over there and encountered an older lady behind the countertop.

"Can I help you find anything?"

"I need crickets. Do you have any?" I hadn't yet seen any.

"Sure do." She started walking toward a wooden container behind the counter.

"Great. How much do get for them?" The superchains charge 9 or 10 cents each.

"Six cents a piece. Big or small."

"Awesome. Can I get a few? Like ten dozen?"

Horribly pained look on her face. She started walking back toward a desk and at a book. I thought for sure that she was looking at inventory in order to tell me that I'd have to come back the next day. While she was looking at her desktop, I glanced over at the wooden box to notice that it's practically overflowing with crickets. I was a little confused, but at that moment, she turned around and said, "One hundred and twenty?"

"Yeah..." She turned around to start collecting when I looked at her desk. On top of her desk, there was no sign of any books or binders. The only thing there was a calculator. It was a large screen model and it was displaying "120.00".

It took all my strength not to laugh until I got outside.

Earlier that day, just before noon, I was interrupted from work by two young ladies screaming. I walked over to them and calmly asked "What's the matter?" They simultaneously pointed to the ground and yelled, "There's a cricket!"

Sure enough, there was a cricket on the ground. One cricket. For a moment, I thought about finding a bag to use to take it home. You know, for food.

"Yes, there is a cricket. It's not bothering you."

Together, they asked, "What if it jumps on us?"

Tired of the screaming, I walked over, scooped up the little guy in one motion (I was proud of that. I figured I'd be humiliated by having to crawl around on the ground chasing him for a few minutes, like when one gets out of the cage at home), opened the door, and threw him into the bush. Then I got right back to working. Yes, girls, I'll be your hero.

I guess that's it for this week. Crickets, crickets, and more crickets.

Posted by dennis @ 09:49 AM | Comments (0)
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