Thursday 15 December 2011

My pet!

Ringo and my first meeting....
          I have a pet... no I'm not talking about one of my students. I mean a living, breathing, moving pet that I keep in my house. Now I've had my pet for quite a while by now but I have only just got around to writing a post now... and I think he deserves it.
         Any guesses as to what it is? Nope, not a dog. No, not a cat. Rabbit? No. Hamster? Wrong again. It's a .......... wait for it........ Beetle (with two ees not the ea musical variety)! Yep, a beetle. A rhinoceros beetle to be precise or at least he will be...
The three stages of Ringo (he is still number 1).
         Ok, so on one of our Friday field trips a few weeks ago we went to an insect farm (museum). It was another very Korean cultural experience and despite a few squeamish moments I enjoyed it. We all held silk-worms in our hand and then spun real silk by hand from their cocoons etc. as well as seeing many more animals and insects. One of the final parts of the tour though was to look at rhinoceros beetles and their larvae. They are renowned for their long lifespan in the insect world. Reaching 3years in age before they even change from larvae to a beetle and this is where the story gets interesting. So after looking at them and staring in amazement we were all told that each person on the tour, including the teachers, would be given a free rhinoceros beetle as a pet. They are apparently very popular pets all over Asia. Now you can imagine my first thoughts... but then my curiosity got the better of me and I followed the kids as they each filled a specialised plastic jar three quarters fill with compost and then lined up to be given their larvae. Don't fool yourself into imagining a little caterpillar. This thing was much thicker and also longer than a thumb. It had a creepy black "face" and little hairs all over its body. They don't enjoy light so it was quickly worming it's way deep into the compost. Now luckily the instructions were easy. 1. Keep it in dark places. 2. Keep the soil moist (Not wet, we were wanred NOT to water it). 3. When it changes to a beetle feed it fruit jellys etc. All our larvae are approx. 3yrs old so close to morphing apparently. After one look at my new housemate I knew his name... "Ringo"! (Get it??)
Ringo a few weeks ago
          So Ringo and I have happily shared an apartment since... I admit I occasional check to make sure he is still in his container but he is a very easy flatmate to have indeed. Now soon after our trip Vanessa's beetle,  named George Harrison (she liked my beetle's name), began to darken in colour and then cocooned and last week emerged as a big, sturdy, 'don't mess with me' rhinoceros beetle. Jannel's beetle has also emerged. Not Ringo though.... in fact he is still white and worming around and munching through the compost he lives in. It seems that Ringo and I might just have to part ways never having met beetle to face if he doesn't get cocooning fast.
         So having a pet, soon-to-be, beetle is another 'only in Korea' experience which has slightly creeped me out and yet woken my curiosity.

Ringo today!

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