How to Care for Your Crickets
Crickets (genera Gryllus and Acheta, with multiple species of each) are a frequent staple food for reptiles and amphibians. They are primarily nocturnal insects with an approximate 9-week life cycle.
To survive long enough to fulfill their purpose as feeders and to provide optimal nutrition for the animals they feed, crickets need the following: food, hydration, and a place to stand.
Housing (a place to stand)
Crickets do best in an adequately sized and ventilated enclosure from which they can’t escape. While a small number of crickets can survive in a 4”x6” “cricket keeper,” larger numbers of crickets require an enclosure at least the size of a 5 gallon (8”x16”x12”) or 10 gallon (“20”x10”x12”) aquarium. An actual aquarium with a screen cover can serve as the enclosure. A similarly sized plastic tub with a lid will also work well. The cover of the container will require a hole cut in it and covered with a screen or mesh to provide ventilation.
Crickets need places to stand, so they don’t crush each other. This is usually accomplished by multiple pieces of egg crate (similar in shape to egg cartons). It is safest to purchase egg crate flats from a reptile or chick supply place as opposed to using actual egg cartons. Also, toilet paper rolls can be placed on the floor of the enclosure to make it easier to scoop the crickets out at feeding time.
Crickets require high-quality food to provide proper nutrition for the animals they feed. The colored “cricket food” cubes available at some reptile stores are more suited for hydration and don’t provide adequate nutrition. For best results, crickets should be fed a high quality powdered grain mixture. This mixture can be purchased as chicken mash, as insect “gut load” or formulated at home by putting a variety of cereals and grains through the blender. Crickets also do well with fruits and vegetables, especially orange fruits and vegetables containing beta carotene, though care should be taken not to use items that can rot or mold.
Crickets are likely to drown if a water bowl is provided. One alternative is to provide a water bowl with a sponge in it to prevent drowning. A more common approach is to use polymer water crystals, which, when mixed with water, hold the water in a gel-like formulation. Water crystals can be purchased fully hydrated, or in crystal form.
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