By Shannon Lane @Shannonroselane

WHILE most 11 year olds are only interested in watching YouTube videos and playing Fortnite, Shelby Counterman would rather spend time with her enormous INSECT collection

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Videographer / director: Charles Elmore
Producer: Hannah Stevens, Ruby Coote
Editor: Ed Rius

Shelby from Claremore, Oklahoma, is an insect and reptile enthusiast living in Claremore, Oklahoma. The pre-teen became obsessed with creepy crawlies when she was just 18 months old and has been collecting all kinds of bugs since she was three.

Shelby currently has approximately 1,400 insects, comprising of 20 different species of roaches, including lobster roaches, question mark roaches and hissing roaches. As well as stick insects, mealworms, Monarch butterflies, a corn snake and a Mediterranean house gecko.  

Her prized possession is a Simandoa cave roach, which is extinct in the wild. 

Shelby told Barcroft TV: "I was three when I first started collecting insects.

"I like teaching people about insects because I think it’s good that most people know that not all insects are bad.

“There are 3,500 different species of roaches and only 30 of them are bad to humans. They are bad because they infest houses and carry disease. 

“My favorite bug in my collection are the extinct Simandoa cave roach they were found in a cave in 2004 in Africa by scientists. Shortly after they were discovered their only hideout was destroyed and they’re only alive because of captivity."   

Her mother Meghan added: “When she was 18 months old she first really kind of fixated on the cockroaches on a trip.

"Did I have any idea that her insect collection would grow to this size and scope? No, absolutely not. I never, never would have dreamt that!”

From worms to cockroaches, Shelby keeps her insects in aquariums in her room - next to her bed.

She said: “Insects are surprisingly easier to take care of. Generally on Saturdays we just go through each of the boxes and just make sure they have fresh vegetables and water and food. But midweek we check the water. But they are very low maintenance.”

“What I love about all the roaches is that they are very unique and special and have their own place in the world.”

Her younger brother Bryce on the other hand, doesn’t mirror his sister’s feelings for insects: "I’m not a very big fan of her bug collection.

"I don’t really like bugs very much.”

Shelby’s corn snake was actually a gift from her parents, after her spine collapsed and sound out she was facing a long medical road.

Meghan said: “If you’d asked me 10 years ago I would have said that there never would be a snake at my home.

“The snake was kind of her gift, it was a gift to her after she had her back surgery, she was like mom I am gonna have a back surgery and we don’t know what is gonna happen, she was like can I have a snake."

“It’s been the hardest year of our lives. Imagine getting up every day and just wondering if today is the day that you are gonna get a phone call saying she’s had a seizure at school and she didn’t wake up, we worried every day.

"I think that the roaches help. They give her something to look forward to. She care so much for them. Shortly after we came home from last surgery, she had successfully bred a different species of roach and she was just over the moon excited."

After Shelby’s surgery, she was thrilled to return to her creepy crawly family, and fortunately the 11-year-old is back in good health. 

She said: “After my surgery coming back to my collection of insects was really good.

“It felt good because I love routine and I am used to taking care of them.”