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The one for pond dipping.
Backyard Safari Critter Shack
Member Name: broxi3781
Backyard Safari Critter Shack
Advantages: Can be used with wet creatures too, good for photographing insects.
Disadvantages: Easy to scratch plastic, can crack with misuse.
I paid £5.99 for this from Amazon. This makes it the cheapest bug catcher we have found. It measures 7" long, 4" wide and 4 1/2 " high. You do not get much with this, just the tank or "Critter Shack", and a fold sheet with some insect pictures on it. As I recall, these were American insects, but you will find some here. at any rate, it wasn't terribly interesting and went to the recycle bin right away.
According to the label on this tank you can use this to catch fish, frogs lizards, crawfish, butterflies, snakes and bugs. Of course there are a number of these creatures you won't find here, and it should be noted that fish would die in this very quickly. We use this to catch something, have a wee look, perhaps take a picture and then release it. We haven't caught any fish yet anyway, but we have caught a few water beetles. Should we manage to catch mosquito larvae they will be exempt from our catch and release policy - and will instead be used as a tasty treat for fish or salamanders. We have also tried to keep millipedes in this, with plenty of soil and vegetable matter. They seem to do quite well, but you don't see them so there wasn't much point. It could be used for earth worms as well, filled with soil and a few things like coffee grounds a vegetable bit to encourage them to tunnel near the sides. This would not work for ants, or any insect in that size range because of the ventilation holes on the top. An ant would easily escape. Although not intended as such, I feel that filled with bedding this would be suitable to transport a hamster to the vet, or home from a pet shop.
In general, I do not feel that this cage is suitable for many animals to be kept in for an extended period of time. I am however planning to use this a Triops hatching tank as the ones that come with the kits and woefully inadequate, and in fact it would cost less to buy this and the separate eggs and food than a kit. This is much nicer tank to keep them in, although they may need a larger one if they grow big enough. A small tank like this will at least make them easier to find when they are very tiny, and it is so much easier to see them in this than the horrible plastic dishes that come with the kits. I feel this would also be suitable for brine shrimp, or perhaps even caterpillars, who don't really seem to mind how much room they have as long as there is a plentiful supply of food.
This is my oldest son's favourite of all of our bug cages. he says he likes it because it is easier to see the bugs through the clear plastic. He also likes that you can carry it by the handle and the lid is quite secure, nothing gets loose unless you put something really tiny in this like an ant. the entire lid pulls off easily , making it easy for him to dump the contents of a catch net inside, and if you can get good lighting without a flash, the insects photograph in this very well.
Our Critter Shack is in perfect condition, but I did have another similar bug house from a different brand and know the limitations of these as well. The first is that this type of plastic scratches easily. If this is to be thrown in a rucksack with other bug hunting equipment is should be placed in bag first, preferably cloth. a few scratches really will ruin your photographs, and it takes away from the crystal clear view as well. The second issue is that this can break. We no longer have the first bug house because I pushed down on the contents of a bag trying to make just a bit too much fit before going to the caravan and broke it. This should survive being dropped on dirt or grass, but it may crack from a fall onto pavement or brick, and will crack easily with weight or pressure.
I would recommend this cage if you just want something inexpensive to catch bugs in a few times, if you want a nice clear container for pond tipping, as triops home, to give caterpillars a bit more room and variety of food than the cups they are supplied with in butterfly kits, or to keep a caterpillar you have found in - but only until it emerges from the cocoon.
I would not recommend this as a long term home for anything but the smallest of creatures such as triops or brine shrimp. I also feel that a less breakable cage, such as the Happy Giddy Bug House from Melissa and Doug, which I have also reviewed on this site, would better suit a very young toddler who might be running along with and fall on the cage.
I would also caution that this box may heat up terribly if left in the sun. please do not leave anything alive laying out in the garden on a warm day.
Summary: A nice simple bug viewing house - or a triops tank.
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