Pet of the week: The Frog Beetle
Saturday 27 November 2010
Beetles are quite fascinating members of the insect world. There are more than 350,000 different types of beetle, more than any other species on the planet, and they are crucial to the life cycle of their natural habitats. They may be small, but they have a huge impact on life on earth.
Beetles have skeletons on the outside, and the frog beetle's exoskeleton is a beautiful metallic hue, like the paint job on a car from the film The Fast and the Furious. Sadly, many thousands of these mini-beasts are destined for the downstairs loo, as they are bred simply to be dried and mounted in a frame.
The stout hind legs of Sagra buqueti are where he gets his name, as they resemble those of a frog. Although they look like they could launch the beetle like a grasshopper, they only help power them up slippery surfaces. Most beetle species have wings, but some, like this fellow's, have fallen into evolutionary disuse.
Consider the beetle to be like a gardener (in the case of the frog beetle, his garden is south-east Asia). Its mandibles and jaw are its equivalent of a trusty trowel and fork. They chew up the substrate on the forest floor and deposit their dung back into the earth to help the growth cycle. Ingenious. Also handy for scaring off rivals.
Frog beetles are able to climb impossible angles thanks to their "sticky" feet, which in fact carry thousands of tiny hairs. When observing your beetle in a glass vivarium, you'll be able to witness this neat trick.
Estimates reckon on there being some 200 million insects to every human being. The important job of tidying up the natural world cannot be underestimated, and in their natural habitat, frog beetles break down dead vegetation and fertilise the ground wherever they go.
Where to get one
The frog beetle is a rare creature and only for experienced keepers, as they are very hard to breed in this country. If you don't have the time or the patience for this high-maintenance pet, have a look instead at Jonathan Cleverly's informative website, jonathansjungleroadshow.co.uk
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