Live Food: Keeping Crickets

Appropriate nutrition for reptiles includes feeding live insects. They are not only an important supplier of nutrients but also promote the natural prey behavior of your animals. Crickets are a popular food insect. Find out how to deal with them here.

General information about the cricket

The cricket bears the Latin name “Acheta domesticus” and, as a long-feeler horror, belongs to the family of real crickets. As such, they are nocturnal and tend to shy away from the bright daylight. Crickets are found all over the world, but above all in human proximity: Here you will find warmth and sufficient food. The brown insects are about 2 cm tall, the females significantly larger. This is because they have an additional organ that is used to lay eggs.

Crickets have been known as food insects for terraristics for a long time. They are particularly suitable for smaller reptiles and the rearing of young animals. Due to the easy keeping and the good nutrient content, they are among the most popular food insects.

The cricket attitude

Crickets are usually seen in small, transparent plastic cans in stores, but these are only a means of transport and should not be viewed as a long-term keeping option. As soon as you get home with the purchased insects, you should transfer them to a suitable container.

An important criterion in the Heimchenheim is sufficient air circulation. In addition, you should never keep too many animals in too small a space, as this would lead to reduced vitality and life expectancy. As a guideline, a container of around 50 x 30 x 30 cm for 500 adults or 1000 growing crickets is applicable. Another important point is the hygienic keeping of the insects because this is the prerequisite for the health of the feed animals. It should go without saying that the cricket container should be completely cleaned once a week: If you follow this, the odor nuisance will also be minimal. When it comes to the remaining factors of keeping, house crickets are rather frugal. You like it dark (so lighting is not required) and prefer temperatures between 18 and 24 ° C.

The shelter

Now for the rest of the information about accommodation. As a general home, all types of smooth-walled containers are ideal, regardless of whether they are made of glass or plastic. In addition to small terrariums and fauna boxes, specially developed containers that have been specially designed for keeping food insects are particularly suitable. A good example is the Exo Terra cricket pen, which is also equipped with practical tubes and is easy to remove. In principle, anything that can effectively absorb humidity is suitable as a substrate – we recommend bran, wood chips, or sand. So that the crickets have enough space to run and hide, you should pack egg cartons or crumpled newspapers in the container: if they are heavily soiled, the aids can simply be exchanged and replaced. You also need a small, flat bowl in which food can be offered.

It is advisable to set up two or more such containers. In this way, the entire cricket population can simply be relocated to an equivalent container for transport or cleaning. While we’re on the subject, a few words about handling and moving the nimble insects. It generally helps to cool the animals down one hour in advance by reducing the room temperature (12-16 ° C). This makes them sluggish and easier to implement. Ideally, this should still happen outside of the apartment, because it can always happen that a cricket escapes and it is not for nothing that they are assigned to the pests. The nocturnal chirping is less of a problem here. If you don’t have a balcony or garden, you should transfer it over or in the bathtub. The smooth surfaces make it difficult for them to escape and the bathroom is usually clearer than other rooms.

The feeding

In general, the house cricket is omnivorous and uses everything it can find in nature: plant-based food, carrion, or other animals – by the way, other house crickets, because they are real cannibals. As already mentioned, house crickets are usually sold in cans, which usually also contain cricket food: If the animals only eat that, their nutritional content remains too low. A balanced diet with fruits and vegetables is much better. After all, food animals are only as good as the food they get themselves – and that in turn benefits your reptiles. If you feed them appropriately, they represent an extremely high-quality and healthy source of food.

A balanced mixture of dry and moist food is ideal for the small insects, whereby it is sufficient to offer them fruit or vegetables every two to three days (unsprayed, of course). It is important to remove all residues after 2 hours so that nothing starts to go moldy. By the way, you can completely forego offering water if you feed enough juice feed.

Suitable vegetables are, for example, cucumbers, tomatoes, and carrots. In the case of fruit types, everything is suitable except citrus fruits. Oat flakes or wheat bran can be fed as dry fodder, and wild herbs, grass, dandelions, and the like are added from the vegetable area. If you want to offer your crickets a portion of animal protein, you can also use dog, cat, or fish food. Last but not least, there is of course also extra cricket food in stores.

Feeding the crickets

The amount and frequency of cricket feeding naturally depend on the needs of your terrarium inhabitants. In general, however, the crickets should be offered plenty of fruit and vegetables before they are fed: They become a real nutrient bomb. From time to time, however, you should also give the reptiles minerals and vitamins in the form of powder preparations, which you can easily do with the help of the house crickets. Either you dust the crickets yourself with the powder (this works best with a pollinator can) or you add a portion of mineral preparation to your “hangman’s meal”, which is then absorbed indirectly by the reptiles with the insects themselves.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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