Thursday, March 01, 2007

Dumb and Dumber

Last weekend we went to a great gardening festival. There were lots of kids' activities, including stations where they could learn about frogs, worms, and bees. There was a real hive, the kind behind glass, where you could watch all the bees busy working on top of the honeycomb. The big queen had a little dot on her back, and you could watch her laying eggs.

Anna and Colin entered a contest to win the fire-bellied toad they were going to give away at the end of the festival. You'll never guess who won. Yep, Anna did. She was so excited - she whooped and hollered, then stepped up to get her toad. They made her promise to buy him live food, provide him a safe appropriate habitat, and take him to the vet if he got sick. She breathlessly answered yes. (BTW, I don't know what I'll do with him if he gets sick.)

At first I thought we'd gotten more than I bargained for, looking at the list of things this creature needed - a heat source, a filter, a live plant, and live food (crickets). But apparently one toad in one large tank in our warm climate does not need all those bells and whistles. The crickets, though, are nonnegotiable.

So now we have a toad living with us, and about 10 crickets. The crickets are gross. Anna loves "Speckles," her toad, but he is dull. He sits on his rock all day, and he sits under his rock all night.

The toad is not very smart either. The cricket basically has to wander right in front of his field of vision in a way that triggers the little hunting ganglion in his rudimentary brain before he will snap at it.

The crickets are even dumber. They like to jump off the rocks into the water, where they inevitably drown. So I put a cricket in there, and he jumps into the water, I reach in to rescue the bug, but my hand startles the toad who goes off swimming. I put the cricket back on the rocks, and it crawls over the toad, which kicks him into the water. I put him back on the rock, and he crawls up over the back of the toad. The toad does not recognize him as food when he sneaks up behind him this way, and so he lets it get away and jump in the water again. I rescue the cricket again, who is now heaving with respirations on the rock. I leave them alone. An hour later, the cricket is drowned, thus inedible.

So far, we've drowned 5 crickets, and the toad ate two. Argh!

7 comments:

Leah said...

I use to rescue crickets from drowning for a little while too when I had Tokay gecko lizzards (MEAN lizzards...not for kids but very pretty to look at). I finally gave up. Crickets are cheap so let them drown....(sad I know) so I know what you mean about them being dumb.

Lisa said...

Rescuing the crickets sounds like a full-time job! And, if this toad is as dumb as it sounds, why haven't they become extinct? It's a mystery.

EdamameMommy said...

What did Anna do to win the toad? Was it a drawing or a contest?

Just so you know, there is a huge FROGS exhibit at the Houston Museum of Natural Science right now. We loved it.

Emily said...

LOL! Oh my, that's hysterical!

A.Norma said...

YUCK!!! put me off my Dinner!!! ewww

Library Lady said...

Funny the vet's kid getting the pet and having to promise to take it to the vet! :)

Jennifer said...

Steph, it was a random drawing, no skill involved. We explained to her how very lucky she was, and she said, "I am so happy, I have such a good feeling inside, it is like my heart is singing!"

We watched the toad eat a cricket today. I only had to put it up on the rock 3 times before he snapped it up. The back legs hung out the mouth, kicking feebly, for a few minutes before he got it all the way in...