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Breeding Crickets for Fun and Profit

April Fool's! We're not turning our backs on investing -- though we did fool some of you.

When I was a kid, all of my friends had hamsters. I had two or three sprinting through ubiquitous Habitrail tubes running all over my room.

Apparently, these days, lizards are the new hamster -- most of our friends' children have them.

When my son decided he wanted a leopard gecko for his birthday, we did a lot of research. We figured out what they ate, what they slept on, and even how to figure out whether our particular gecko was a male or a female. The fact that it couldn't chew through the cage was a definite plus.

While we did determine that leopard geckos dine on crickets, we failed to think that through as much as we should have. You see, it turns out that crickets don't live that long, which means that -- unlike dog and cat food -- the gecko's food doesn't store that well. With the increasing price of gas, the frequent trips to PetSmart were killing me.

Being a biologist, I figured it couldn't be too hard to breed them myself. After doing some research, I found that one female cricket can produce 100 offspring. That means that starting with just a few crickets, I can have hundreds of adults in a few months, and tens of thousands a few months after that.

Show me an investment that could turn $2 (you need a female and a male, after all) into more than $1 million in less than a year, and I'd invest yesterday. Even the stocks with the best returns couldn't produce that.

The only question then is, what the heck am I going to do with all of those crickets? I could sell them to our friends, but that wouldn't even put a dent in my potential stock. I could start a mail-order cricket business, but after seeing the number of results produced by Googling "crickets for sale," I think it might be difficult to develop a moat around my new business. Then again, with that many crickets in our house, my wife might require me to build a water-filled moat between her and the crickets. If all else fails, this recipe doesn't sound half bad.

I hope my daughters like the turtles they're getting for Christmas.

The Motley Fool is taking a break from investing. Read more here.

Fool contributor Brian Orelli's Ph.D. is in cancer biology, but insects have always fascinated him. He doesn't own shares of any company mentioned in this article. PetSmart is aStock Advisor pick. The Fool's disclosure policy makes a good flyswatter when printed out.

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