Thursday, November 5, 2009

Triops: This Isn't Everybody's Favorite Pet

"Can't Commit to a Family Pet? Try a Triops"
GeekDad, Wired magazine (November 5, 2009)

"If you're in the market for a low-cost, low-maintenance, low-commitment but high-interest pet, you can't do better than triops. What are triops? Also known as tadpole shrimp, triops are a kind of ancient branchiopod, or gill-footed crustacean. They look like miniature horseshoe crabs, but generally only reach about 3 inches in length. They're found in temporary ponds in deserts (as well as in rice paddies, where they're considered a nuisance), which explains why they're perfect for commitment-phobes. The average triops only lives about 50-90 days. Like some alien offspring, a triops will grow right before your eyes from microscopic nymph to adult in just a few days. In fact, the only downside to keeping triops is when sensitive family members must deal with their passing (although, of course, that can be a learning experience too). But you can always comfort them with the thought that a triops is designed to leave behind a nice cache of drought-proof eggs to spawn the next generation before its temporary swimming hole dries up...."

That's the first paragraph: like something out of a 19th century novel, in terms of length.

On the other hand, the article includes the following photo, which I think may be bizarre enough to keep you reading through the occasionally-dense paragraphs.

(from Lori Adams, via Wired, used w/o permission)

These days, seems like everybody has their own website: including triops. ( The FAQ page there is geared for people raising triops, or "dinosaur shrimp."

There's a pretty good discussion of triops anatomy at "Triops longicaudatus," Invertebrate Anatomy OnLine, Lander University. The critters have three eyes - two compound eyes, and a third naupliar eye - buried deep in the head, with a 'window' giving it a view downwards.

In my opinion, the triops isn't an ideal household pet. On a scale of 1 to 10, I'd say it's 'cuddle factor' is around -8. Add that to an aquatic environment, an appearance that puts one in mind of the title character of "Alien," and very short life span - no, this isn't your typical suburban pet.

Still, it's a fascinating creature.

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