Acquired: Pet store
Posted May 08, 2013
I've long harboured a dedicated fascination with ants. They are, by far, my favourite insect. (The old PC game SimAnt may have had a hand in this.) So when I found out at a child that I could own a colony? Score. Jumped right on it.
Setting up the ant colony was a piece of cake. My father took me out to a pet store, we bought a plastic green enclosure with a goofy-looking farm diorama above the level of the soil, and we got ourselves some ants. Just a small tube from a local guy. Very inexpensive, very easy.
Managing the ants was a bit tougher. Though the first month or two went smoothly enough, with many tunnels built and the colony on the constant move, they slowly began to die off for no reason I could understand. Food they would normally eat went neglected, and shortly after we hit the four month mark the last few ants, including the queen, went kaput. I'm not sure to this day what happened.
Despite the fact that ant farms have long been sold as children's toys, I wouldn't recommend ants to younger kids. You can't interact with ants; indeed, if you so much as move their ant farm around too much you're likely to collapse the tunnels they've made. The ant farm we got was also rather flimsy, and though we never had any escaping ants the possibility of it happening always seemed greater than with, say, a fish escaping a fish tank. If you do get ants, make sure you water them regularly and keep their habitat in a stable, shaded place.
Overall? An interesting pet. I'm still fascinated by ants, and I love watching them mill about whenever I go out for a walk. I'm not sure I'd try and set up another colony, though. I recommend doing a lot of preparatory research before setting up an ant farm. Consider buying something other than those plastic green ant farms, as well - I think ants might better thrive in a different enclosure, one with more space and stability.