Homeschool Pets: Hermit Crabs Who Won’t Die, Tadpoles With Mosquito Larvae and Other Adventures
We recently had Pet Care Day at Creekside Learning. Or, perhaps a better title would be Time to Stop Neglecting the Pets Day. I am mainly talking about the toad and hermit crabs that we got over two and a half years ago who are still alive. It did not occur to me to research the life span of Firebellied Toads and Hermit Crabs when we purchased them. That seemed like a waste of time because, really, how long could they possibly live?
Never did I imagine when I said yes to Firefly’s request for these things that 2 1/2 years later I’d be purchasing filters for the toad tank and tiny bags of sand for the crabitats at the local Overpriced-Pet-Supplies-R-Us. But that is where we found ourselves two days ago, because Home Depot was out of play sand and the stupid filters only come in packs of 3. “You know,” I remarked to The Husband while the kids were out of earshot, “this practically guarantees that these pets are all going to die within a week.”
Of course, the kids are excited that it is Pet Care Day because this also involves washing our 90 pound Labrador Retriever in the bath tub. They think this is like a fun feature at a water park. The dog disagrees.
We also have a Beta fish that lives in a tank. A tank that we purchased because my friend Maria said she thought it helps them live longer and we had just experienced a very traumatic Beta fish death. I only agreed to the filtered tank because I hate fish poop and cleaning out fish tanks. Did I mention that The Bee talked me into buying a $7 castle for this fish on our trip to the pet store? I’m not sure how that happened.
We also need to do something about the tadpole habitat, which has been sitting next to the other habitats since, um, June or something, wherein we realized that the tiny tadpoles we rescued from our kiddy pool had some very annoying roommates: mosquito larvae. We put the tadpole habitat into the butterfly netting enclosure thing to contain the hatching mosquitos and try to prevent the entire family from getting West Nile Virus or something. You see, I was going to put them back into the kiddy pool with the rest of the tadpoles but The Husband helpfully dumped all the water out, on the account of the mosquitos, which prompted the kids to run around the back yard shrieking, “Daddy killed the tadpoles! Daddy killed the tadpoles!” As if our neighbors didn’t already think we’re weird enough for homeschooling, right?
Anyway, the tadpoles in the indoor habitat sort of died and then we just left the habitat sitting there full of disgusting water and dead tadpoles and rotting lettuce for 6 months. For no reason. Just didn’t feel like dealing with it. So now I’m going to throw it away, hopefully without my kids noticing, otherwise there will be more shrieking about how first Daddy killed the tadpoles, then Mommy threw out the habitat and we can never ever have tadpoles as pets again. Oh, no! Really? Never? Hmmmm.
But at least I got our tadpoles from our own pool in our own backyard, unlike my friend Janice* who stole tadpoles for her kids while camping at a national park and then donated them to her daughter’s elementary school. I better not give you any more details about that, though, because she might go to the authorities about the time I had to steal my own luggage back from a secured area in an airport. But this post is not about federal offenses. No, it’s about how we neglect our pets. So lets get back to that.
After dealing with the filtered toad and fish tanks, we moved on to the crabitats. We paused to reflect that the crabs have been living in boxes full of their own poop, rotting vegetables, some remains of their claws that molted and, oh yes, some sand. Still alive. Boggles the mind, doesn’t it?
Don’t worry, we dumped all that stuff out and gave them fresh sand. They also get fresh vegetables, water and salt water every other day, courtesy of my 8 year old, so they are not totally neglected.
Finally, we washed the dog, clipped her nails, cleaned out her ears and brushed her out. She was very glad to be rid of us after all this fun activity and stalked off to sleep in a part of the house that didn’t contain any humans.
Meanwhile, when I have time, I silently practice what to say when the kids will ask if we can have, say, a baby squirrel they found in the woods, or a tiny little gerbil from the pet store: “No more pets. No more pets. No more pets.”
*Not her real name. As far as you know.