The great cricket famine

The difficulties of cricket farming proved to be too much for my youngest son. Several days ago, he announced that he thought they should give up on keeping the lizards.

His older brother disagreed, and took complete ownership of both the lizards and the crickets. He was diligent with the lizards, making sure they were on the porch whenever the porch had enough sunlight, and being careful to always keep the enclosure warm enough. Whenever the cricket stock started getting low, we went to the pet store and re-stocked.

Then came the day when he found all the crickets had died, every last one of them.

“Why don’t we try the lizard food?” I asked. “Get a couple crickets and lizard food. If he doesn’t eat the lizard food, we’ll go back to crickets.”

So that’s what he did. He created a food dish out of a large blue plastic bottle cap and filled it with lizard food. The crickets were put into the cricket farm, and we waited.

The next day, there was clearly less lizard food. At least half the cap was empty. Excited, my son shook more lizard food into it.

The day after that, however, he made a horrible discovery. The bottom of the lizard enclosure had a pile of lizard food beneath the grasses and landscaping.┬áThe lizards weren’t eating the food, after all. As best we could tell, they had stepped on the food dish and tipped it over, spilling the food down to where we couldn’t see it.

My son ran to the cricket farm, but, once again, all the crickets were dead.

Now we were in trouble. The lizards had been without food for at least three days, and the pet store was closed.

“I’m sorry,” I said. “This decision has to be yours. Can the lizards live until we can get crickets? I don’t know. Do you have to let them go? How long can they survive without food? This is a tough one.”

He worried over the problem for at least an hour, then took the lizards outside and set them free. The little one, his brother’s, sprinted into the grass. The taller one took one look outside, then ran back into the enclosure. My son reached in, took him out, and put him in the grass, but the creature ran back, latched onto his finger, and wouldn’t let go.

He put it back into the enclosure and we went out to try to find a cricket-selling pet store that was open.

No luck.

Back home again, my son tried to set the lizard free again. This time, the creature grudgingly walked off into the lawn.

I hope he survives.

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