Crazy eBay Experiment: Selling an ant on eBay.

Selling an ant on eBay as part of my Crazy eBay Experiment

I’d heard stories about those crazy auctions on eBay. You know the sort; a dried prune that looked like Jesus and sold for $5000; the tissue that Britney Spears used that sold for $2000 dollars; that guy selling his virginity for $10,000; and on and on.

It got me to thinking, what can’t you sell on eBay? Are there really so many crazy nutters out there that you can put a marble in a box and call it a virtual reality universe? Based on my own social interactions I’d hazard a guess that the crazy nutters have us outnumbered 456 to 1.

Naturally I decided to come up with my own hair-brained auction to test my theory. Below is one of the actual auctions I put on eBay and following are the results of my crazy eBay experiment:

My Actual eBay Auction Description:

Great news!!

I have an ant colony in my backyard. Yes you heard me right, a real live ant colony.

And after some high level negotiations, the odd temper tantrum, a couple of well placed size 10 shoes, followed by some rather hurried and delicate diplomacy, my ants and I have come to an agreement. They’re not going to step on me with their oversized novelty shoes anymore and for the first time ever, anywhere in the world, maybe even the whole universe; you can sponsor an individual ant within a colony.

Don’t blame me, it was mostly their idea.

Please note the ants were unhappy with my suggestion of stuffing them into envelopes and posting them around the globe. Instead, you are sponsoring a specific ant in the colony with food, education and infrastructural improvements. I will deposit scraps of food near the colony, read poetry to them, and erect a storm cover to protect the colony from torrential rain (picture a stick holding up one side of a frisbee).

It gets better!

You will be sent a certificate of sponsorship which includes: Name of your ant, colony ID number, job description and individual details including dislikes and likes, personality traits, tasty facts and much more.

Remember, the more ants that are sponsored the more additional food will be provided to the colony, and who knows we might even drill a well or two. Believe me, you can make an almost insignificant difference to their struggling community and forever slightly change the life of your ant. Act now, before it’s too late.

But wait, there’s more… By sponsoring ants from the colony in my backyard, you’ll also have the opportunity to learn about your ant, what they do day to day, who they like, which other ants they find a pain in the thorax and a few surprising facts you might not have realized. Each ant has its own individual personality, habits and traits. The sooner you sponsor your ant the sooner you’ll fall in love with them.

Each ant is completely unique and will only be sponsored by one person so get in quick there’s only a couple million left!

Please note you are bidding on a certificate and not the actual ant. No ants will be posted, harmed, chemically enhanced, sent back in time or tricked into entering envelopes during the course of this auction. Upon winning the auction you will be sent your certificate which focuses on a randomly allocated ant in the colony. Here’s just a small list of some of the fine candidates available:

Name: Chuck

Job description: Cleaner
Personality: Gruff but has a heart of gold
Likes: Working out, long marches, picnics by the sea
Dislikes: Ham radios, chalk, small banter
Favourite Quote: “An ant on the move does more than a dozing ox”
Colony ID: 2734421

Name: Wendy

Job description: Queen – Domestic duties
Personality: Hedonistic
Likes: Being fed and pampered, gossiping about other ants, tea parties
Dislikes: Anteaters, menial tasks, floods and droughts
Favourite Quote: “One so loves the taste of honey in the morning”
Colony ID: 0000001

Name: Patter

Job description: Scout
Personality: Nervous and skittish
Likes: Running fast, collecting rocks, late night snacks
Dislikes: Pantaloons, loud noises, making decisions
Favourite Quote: “Just because I’m paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get me!”
Colony ID: 0300212

Name: Tipsy

Job description: Brood tending
Personality: Boorish matron
Likes: The sweet taste of nectar, orderly conduct, lecturing other ants
Dislikes: Loud music, brood tending, Antwerp
Favourite Quote: “You can never have to many ants!”
Colony ID: 0035007

Name: Jerby

Job description: Supervisor
Personality: Work-a-holic
Likes: Efficiency, secretly writing poetry, yearly ant evaluations
Dislikes: Elephants, floods, harsh poetic critiques
Quote: “…a creature of great industry, drags with its mouth whatever it can, and adds it to the heap… not unaware nor careless of the future.”
Colony ID: 2838776

And lots more available: sponsor an ant today and make very little difference in the overall scheme of things.

Interesting information about our ant friends:

The average ant can lift between 25 to 50 times its own weight. (That’s like you lifting a car above your head)
The average ant can pull 15 to 30 times its own weight. (Try putting 20 of your friends on a rug and start dragging them around the room)
It’s commonly believed that ants will not cross a chalk line. (This is an untrue myth, ants just don’t like walking on art)
All ants are social, live in colonies and generally get along with others of the colony (bar the odd exception like Grant and Jerby).

How they help the environment:

“World wide, ants are one of the most important predators on small invertebrates, including other insects. Leaf-cutting ants in the American tropics are the most important herbivores (plant consumers), outranking grazing mammals. In many ecosystems, ants are important dispersers of the seeds that they harvest and many plants rely on them to propagate. In desert regions, they are one of the principle consumers of seeds. Wherever ants live, they turn over and aerate the soil as much or more than earthworms…”


Now who wouldn’t want to sponsor one of these adorable little creatures? Get bidding, before you miss out!

So before I give the results of this experiment, I’d like to add that all proceeds raised were given to an animal shelter for abused and abandoned pets.
So yes, I ripped the ants off, but feeling guilty, I caught some flies and left them as offerings to the colony (of course I then sold certificates for each fly I caught, naturally).

And Now To The Results of my Crazy eBay Experiment: Selling an Ant on eBay

Total Visits to the auction: 37,341
Ants Sponsored: 108
Time Invested: 8 hours (Yes I actually created a unique certificate for each ant sponsored!)

Total Money Raised: $756.00

Time vs money: $94.50 per hour
And…I had people sending me emails for weeks wanting to know when the next round of sponsorships would be. Crazy!
The success of this eBay listing really amazed me, but I still wasn’t completely convinced. After all, maybe ant sponsoring was the hip new thing for which everyone had been waiting.
So I put my thinking cap on again (no I haven’t sold my thinking cap yet, but thanks for the idea) and over the next few weeks I sold an invisible dog for $462 and then a swag of sponsorship certificates for catching those flies I mentioned.
And thus, I can conclusively conclude that yes, you can indeed sell anything and everything on eBay. They do have the caveat that you must actually be sending something, so I sold ant certificates, the dog collar to my invisible dog and so on.
It turns out there’s an eager bidder squirming impatiently in his or her heated swivel chair, waiting for you to sell that flake of skin that looks a bit like that guy from that movie you can never remember the title of but was on last summer.
So start scratching, it just might be worth gold…
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