Crickets have become a staple diet for a lot of reptiles and amphibians. Purchasing crickets online in large quantity has become very common place among exotic pet hobbyists and even sports fishermen. This article will cover the basic care and breeding of the common house cricket, Achetus domesticus.
Crickets will hatch, grow to adulthood and die with an average life span of eight weeks once reaching adulthood. The males perform the chirping and are good indicators of weather conditions. The frequency of chirping is low in cold weather and high in warm weather.
Males will perform the chirping and while chirping their wings, rear legs and body will shake. Females will have an ovipositor that protrudes from their rear and is significantly larger than males.
A cricket will go through a growth cycle reaching maturity after 5 weeks and then die after 8 weeks of adulthood. Each week the cricket will grow in size until it reaches its adult size.
Crickets can live in moderate room temperatures from 70-80F but will only thrive in the low 80s. Below 70F will prove detrimental to health and most crickets will die. A reptile heat bulb, either colored or ceramic is recommended for winter or cold climates.
Moderate humidity is recommended. The growth cycle will be increased with warm temperatures and higher humidity in the 60% range.
Crickets will eat plenty of grains, fruits, and vegetables. Some crickets will become cannibalistic if not fed a proper diet on a regular basis. The leading Cricket and insect breeders offer diets and reptile food companies even produce a diet for crickets. All food given to crickets should be nutritionally complete since you are gut loading the insect to be food for a reptile. Water should be provided through a damp sponge, water crystals or a shallow dish with gravel so the crickets do not drown.
Gut loading crickets is a proven scientific theory that you will provide the most nutritious live prey by feeding crickets high-quality food prior to offering them as prey to your pet.
I use Armstrong’s Cricket containers that are made of a dense plastic and have screen covers to prevent escapes. These are sold as kits with food and water, cricket containers and scooper to collect the crickets. I highly recommend these for the ease of use and cleaning.
You can also make your own for a fraction of the cost using a Sterilite storage container and cutting a square hole out of the top and with the use of a hot glue gun and the scrap material from the square cut out you can put a wire mesh or fabric over the hole and glue the extra material through the mesh and contact the plastic material of the lid. This method is relatively cheap if you own a glue gun yourself. Be sure to follow all warnings provided with the glue gun and any tools you use.
A single adult female can produce 2000 crickets in her lifetime. Keeping crickets in large numbers can reduce your feeder bills. You will want to begin with an egg laying container, in the adult enclosure place a shallow container with moist dirt at the bottom. A shallow deli cup or Tupperware container works great. Place the egg carton over the container with enough room for the crickets to move freely in and out of the egg laying container. This is to provide the females with a sense of security.
Every one to two weeks transfers the egg laying container in a new cricket container. We will call this container the pinhead bin. Provide the same food as you do the adults but be sure to keep a moist sponge instead of any shallow water dishes to prevent drowning. That’s it!
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