Checking out Habitat

Bug Hunting With Backyard Safari Outfitters Field Gear

When Backyard Safari™ Outfitters sent me some of their Essential Field Gear to look at, I was both thrilled and terrified at the same time.

To put it bluntly, I’m not a big fan of all things creepy and crawly, but Kid Testers #1 and #2 are, so they were very excited to take a look at the Backyard Safari Bug Vacuum With Lazer Light and the Backyard Safari Outfitters Land & Water Lighted Habitat.

What’s Inside?

When I opened the box, I was very impressed with the contents. The Land & Water Habitat was all put together, the Lazer Light Bug Vacuum already had batteries in it, there was a great sturdy magnifying glass and a complete field guide just waiting for us. We were ready to go a-hunting.

So, I did what I had to do. I sent Mr. Learning Treehouse (Mr LT) out with the Kid Testers (KTs) to check this thing out! As you can see from the pictures, they had a blast and were very impressed with the equipment. Here’s what Mr. LT had to say.

Lazer Light Bug Vacuum

Bug Vacuum-001

Before I get to his comments, it’s worth explaining that this is a gun-shaped vacuum which gently sucks up bugs without harming them.

Some of the moms at the park were a little put off by the fact that it looks like a toy gun, but The Learning Treehouse thinks that’s their problem and the learning benefits are outweighed by personal dislikes about gun toys.

The bugs are contained in a small, clear plastic Capture Core which has a magnifier on one end (it doubles as a trap door) and comes off the vacuum to attach to the Land & Water Habitat so you can transfer anything you’d like to take a closer look at.

Using Bug Vaccum-001

Pros of the Lazer Light Bug Vacuum

  • It’s easy to use. KT #1, who is a preschooler, had no problem holding it and pulling the trigger.
  • It has two collection capsules so you don’t have to empty it every time you catch something. The capsules have nice built-in magnifying glasses and a clever trap door mechanism for transfer into the habitat part.
  • There’s a cool red light mounted on the top of the vacuum. Mr. LT correctly assumed it’s red so you can catch night bugs and you don’t ruin your night vision and/or so other bugs are not attracted to it.

There was only one thing we didn’t like about the vacuum–the suction power is lower than we’d would have like to have seen.

As Mr. LT explained, “It took a few tries to suck up a stubborn bug, but it worked.”

Thinking about habitat-001

Land & Water Lighted Habitat

Mr LT and the Kid Testers loved this observation habitat. It’s designed to keep small land or water creatures for you to look at and it does its job well; it’s very easy to see everything. Here’s what we liked:

  • I particularly appreciated the locking doors, so no creepy crawlies could escape. Mr. LT also pointed out the ventilation in the top so the creep-crawlies could still survive and the built-in green light that is designed to make them feel at home. (He says white light would bother the critters. I didn’t know that.)
  • The Land & Water Habitat is a great fit with the bug vacuum. The vacuum’s collections capsules fit right on to the unit so you can transfer them without having to touch them or worry about them getting away.
  • The habitat has a liner on the inside so  if you want to put water in it for frogs or toads, it’s all ready for them.
  • The background picture is reversible, so you can see several different “looks” and the fake log on the inside gives the critters a place to hide and climb around.

The only drawback we found with this gear was that when you’re transferring from the bug vacuum, you have to take the cap off of the habitat very quickly and put the capsule on so that any creatures you have in there already don’t escape.

The Bottom Line

If you have a budding naturalist at home, it is well worth investing in the Backyard Safari Outfitters gear. It’s affordable, it’s sturdy, it’s interesting and what we looked at is only a small part of the Essential Field Gear line.

Just make sure if you’re squeamish you have someone like Mr. Learning Treehouse to take your Kid Testers out hunting for critters!

About Amanda

Amanda Morin is author of The Everything Kids' Learning Activities Book, a former teacher/early intervention specialist and mother of three. She is the writer and editor for About.com’s Kids’ Learning Activities site, a regular contributor to PopSugar Moms and her parenting articles have been featured on Education.com and ModernMom.com, among other sites. Amanda knows that hands-on, fun activities are the best way to promote learning and wants to provide parents with the information they need to find products that promote fun learning.

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