Jacopo Werther/Photography (Wikimedia, Creative Commons licence 2.0)

These latest pets in our household — following such predecessors as tadpoles, crickets, goldfish, cocooning butterflies, and ant-farm ants, all now deceased — came in a box sealed in plastic that I brought home from the shelf of a discount department store. My daughter Natalie, just eight, awaited me at the door when I returned home. The directions inside the box unfolded in small print on a narrow sheet of paper. Together we unpacked the kit, snapped green plastic…