A question was recently asked of us by a customer who was examining our Ecoquarium Frogs – they asked if it was cruel to keep them in such small aquariums and how they would do in a larger tank. To give this some perspective, here is the EcoQuarium tank (sold only in store – sorry).:
The tank looks small, and in fact it is small. But that really isn’t an issue because the frogs (Dwarf African Aquatic Frogs) are not very territorial, in fact if you put them in a larger aquarium they would confine themselves to about the same amount of space as the Ecoquarium.
But this kind of concern does bring up an issue that worries many: are animal kits cruel to animals?
The short answer is no, the long answer is no, but only if you buy from reputable dealers and really the concern should not be so much for the animals as the animal’s environment.
For example, we carry a popular animal known as Triops – Instant Animals or animals in an envelope.
These are nifty critters that have been around for millions of years. Their eggs are very durable and able to survive for long periods of time. When they get wet they can hatch , live long enough to breed the next generation of Triop eggs, and die after about 90 days. These are animals that are able to survive in areas of drought, where periodic rains fill puddles and allow the eggs to hatch before the puddle dries up.
Now the concern here is not so much with the Triops – their nervous system is very basic. The concern is with how the Triop eggs are harvested. We get our kits from a company called ToyOps, which is one of the first to offer Triops. But not a month goes by without us getting some offer from a company in China, India or Africa that promises us Triop egg kits of one kind or another. These give us great pause. Why? Because ToyOps goes to great length to breed their Triops in the lab, while other companies have a tendency to send kids out into the countryside to dig up the eggs. This tends to cause damage to the area. A kid playing with a toy shovel in a pond is one thing, it is another for every square centimeter of that pond to be churned up in the search for ‘free-range’ Triop Eggs.
Off-brands can have other issues as well. Several knock-off companies tried to imitate EcoQuariums, but their health systems were much poorer and their frogs had a much higher level of Salmonella (all frogs have some) causing more than a few illness in people’s homes.
Some folks complain that perhaps no animals should be used in kits. We disagree as the educational value of children observing real live insects, Triops, butterflies, fish, frogs, etc far outweigh some discomfort they might experience in transportation. As long as you are dealing with a company that has respect for the animal it is selling you can be assured of the best education-to-concern ratio. This is not the category to try a bargain brand.
So who are the reputable brands? In our experience they are:
ToyOps – Triops and Instant Fish Kits
InsectLore – Ladybugs, Butterflies, and other insect kits
Wild Kingdom – Frogs
Uncle Milton – Ant Farms
Fascinations – Yes to their Ant Displays, inconsistent with other insect kits.
This list is by no means complete. Its just the ones we have had experience with. It does not include any companies that make insect displays, animal skeletons or non-living animals.
Oh, and let’s be sure to avoid situation like this no matter who the dealer is: