That was my latest thought. But like most new enterprises regarding the collecting of exotic species to be kept as pets, I found that there was a lot to learn and a lot of hard work lies ahead. I thought it was quite exciting collecting dangerous species, those that bite and those that are poisonous, but I have cautiously not ventured very far. The day will come, however, when I am well and truly able and qualified to deal with these malevolent species. In the meantime, I thought I could start small. I thought; how about an ant colony for the time being.
Let’s start an ant farm. Useless information here in the sense that you can forget about going into your garden to gather a few ants into a tray of sand. It’s a lot more complex and laborious than that. To my absolute horror I discovered that I still needed to locate the darn queen. Where was she, I asked myself. This was futile. I had held off for as long as I could and it was now time to turn to the experts. Seeing as though I wanted exotic species and not your common or garden variety of ants, I hunted high and low on the internet to find a specialist trader.
Undoubtedly, I thought, he was going to promote his wares as aggressively as possible. After all, business is business, no matter what the consequences. But this agent was refreshingly full of surprises and was leaving no stone unturned in educating the public. It was a worthwhile exercise for me to begin with. I felt the excitement mounting in me. I honestly believed that after I’d learned enough it would only be a matter of time before I had my first ant farm. So, Mr Ant Seller, where is the Queen. Wait a moment, sunshine, he said.
If you’re going to go exotic, you must know that there are only several species truly available to collectors. And of those, a very limited number are even suitable for keeping in captivity. Some species are so small that it would be extremely difficult to observe it in the tank. That I did not want and I was after the bigger, soldier variety anyway. Boy was I disappointed. This trader, it must be said, is worth his salt and takes his specialisation quite seriously. He’s not about to sell his ants to any school boy that happens to visit him online.
But fortunately, his restrictions are prudent. He’s focusing on colonies that can be easily obtained, I presume from the wild, and will only be adding to his collection as and when he finds species that can respond well to being kept in captivity. The mission is always to cultivate colonies into larger sizes and then be broken down to be offered for sale to the unwitting public. The trader also mentioned that to sell one queen with only a few workers carries risks. He warns that there’s a risk of colony failure before the ants even begin to settle down and start breeding.
As I’ve come to discover, there’s much to learn still and I will laugh at the first person who has an ant farm, a proper one that is, to show me.