Monday, February 27, 2012

How to keep a cricket as a pet

Crickets have been kept as pets for thousands of years, especially in Japan and China, because, as God would have it, the males rub their grooved ridges on the underside of one of their front wings against the sharp edge of their other front wing, producing a chirping that's found by many to be a lovely sound. 

If you want to keep a cricket as a pet, first you have to get one. Most garden variety crickets that you could catch yourself will do the trick: in North America the Acheta assimilis species will be the most commonly found in the wild. The "house cricket" (Acheta domesticus) and the "field cricket" (Gryllus bimaculatus) are also good for singing -- the latter having the prettier song, the former being the type most commonly sold in pet stores or bait shops. 

Whatever the species, you want a boy cricket for the tunes. A girl cricket will have an ovipositor to lay her eggs with. It will look sort of like a tail or a phallus, and will be almost as long as her body. In other words, when you see a female cricket, you'd probably guess her as a male because of the appendage, so reverse your expectations.

  
What you Need

A place for him to lay his weary cricket head

An aquarium with a fine wire mesh lid will work. So would a jar, but be a hero and give him some Lebensraum. Put some sand, a few rocks and twigs in there so he'll be cozy and have a few hidey-holes to relax in. Though he can be kept at room temperature, he will be more active and sing more if kept on the warm side -- between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping him near a small lamp might make him happy, but do keep him out of direct sunlight. Ideally, there should be about 16 hours of light to 8 hours of darkness for most kinds of crickets.

Water

Keep a damp sponge or moistened cotton wool in his cage to serve as a drinking water source. Be careful about leaving any standing water in their cages as they have very tiny brains, are not very bright, and can drown very easily in even the shallowest of water. If you want to leave a container of water with him, put some marbles or rocks in with the water so he can drink it without standing in it or possibly falling into it. Another option is to use the same type of water dispenser that baby chicks use, filling the bowl with marbles or rocks. 

If you use a damp sponge or moistened cotton wool, and if you have any pregnant females, she will lay her eggs on them (see below). So, if you are planning on keeping crickets of more than one sex, use the dish and rock set-up or a chick water dispenser, and provide a wet, damp sponge just for the female's eggs.

Food

Despite their preference for Greek food, crickets will eat anything. They are omnivorous (though in the wild some species are carnivorous by choice) and they will even eat each other if they are hungry enough. That last is too ugly to think about and even uglier to witness, so feed them well with small bits of carrot, potato, lettuce, apple, other fruits and vegetables and their peelings (no citrus), rolled oats, pieces of bread, and/or ground up dried dog food. Remove uneaten food so it won't rot. If you want to highly please him, you can get actual "cricket chow" from bait shops and cricket breeders. Even if you use true "cricket chow," throw him a piece of fruit now and again to keep him happy. 

His, er, excretions will be the same size as cricket eggs (if you have any females), but the former will be black and the latter will be a creamy-white color. The excrement must be cleaned out of the cage weekly (or more often if you have a lot of crickets).

  
If you have more than 1 cricket 
and they are different sexes

Like, most any other red-blooded, American bug, Mr. Cricket may wish to marry. After he becomes one with his beloved, she will want to lay her eggs on something damp. Once a female lays her eggs, remove the eggs and place them in a separate container containing moist soil. Keep the soil and environment of the egg container moist (but not so moist that the hatchlings drown; their brains are even tinier than those of their parents), misting it with water daily. The eggs should hatch in about three weeks (when exactly depends on the temperature), and the babies ("nymphs") will be very small and white. 

After they've grown up a bit and have molted a few times, you can put them in the first container and let them metaphorically "sit at the big people's table." Some people have bar-mitzvahs for their crickets at this time, but others think the idea a tad extravagant. I can assure you that, in either case, your cricket will be entirely unable to memorize any Hebrew. The good news, though, is that as long as there's enough food, the young crickets and adults should get along fine together. 

The lifespan of the most commonly sold cricket in bait shops or pet stores -- Acheta Domesticus -- is 8 to 10 weeks, which is a very brief span of time to us, but like millennia to them since one day is as a year to these creatures, and their deaths at 10 weeks (70 days) is like a human's death at 70 years. So don't cry too hard when their time is up; just be grateful to have had such good times together.


Italian Cricket Song

Grillo, mio Grillo
Se tu vo' moglie dillo! 
Se poi t'un la voi, 
Abbada a' fatti tuoi!
   Cricket, my Cricket,
If you want a wife say so!
If later you repent
Then hold your peace!

 

F.Y.I.

Crickets are also known as the "poor man's thermometer." You can determine the exact temperature by counting the number of chirps a cricket makes during a 15-second interval, then adding 37 to the number to get the correct temperature in degrees Fahrenheit. If he chirps 40 times in 15 seconds, the temperature is precisely 77 degrees where the cricket is sitting. 

Virtual diving: underwater panoramas of the Great Barrier Reef - in pictures | Environment | guardian.co.uk

Pretty amazing pictures here. A little salt water in your nose and it's like you're really there!

Virtual diving: underwater panoramas of the Great Barrier Reef - in pictures | Environment | guardian.co.uk:

'via Blog this'

Monday, February 20, 2012

Featherlight Buttermilk Pancakes

Featherlight Buttermilk Pancakes

Cooking.com Tip: The secret to making these amazing pancakes is the lumpy batter. So whatever you do, do not overmix the batter! To cook the pancakes, use a heavy large griddle. A very low-sided griddle, makes sliding your spatula underneath the pancakes and turning them over easy. The griddle's large surface area allows you to cook a large batch of pancakes each time.

RECIPE INGREDIENTS
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour 
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 cups sour cream
2 large eggs
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Additional unsalted butter
Pure maple syrup, warm

DIRECTIONS

Whisk first 5 ingredients in large bowl. Whisk buttermilk, sour cream, eggs and vanilla in another large bowl. Add to dry ingredients. Stir until batter is just blended but still lumpy (do not overmix).

Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter on griddle over medium heat. Pour batter by 1/3 cupfuls onto griddle, spacing 2 inches apart. Cook until bubbles break on surface, about 3 minutes. Turn pancakes over. Cook until bottoms are golden, 3 minutes. Transfer to plates. Repeat with remaining batter, adding butter to skillet as needed.