Breeding and Caring for Crickets
Crickets make a great staple diet for reptile species, as they are very nutritious.
But, buying crickets at a local pet store or bait shop on a regular basis can create a damper on one's wallet. So, you may want to consider breeding crickets.
This is really only a benefit if you have an excess number of pet reptiles. So,before making the decision to breed and raise your own crickets take into considerations a few things.
- Crickets are noisey.
- They have a tendency to make escapes.
- Crickets have a very strong odor.
So, if you decide that it is a benefit to you to breed your own crickets, you may want to take those things into consideration as to where you will place you breeding colony. I would suggest in an outdoor padio or some sort. Not your room. ;-)
Materials to Breed Crickets
If you've decided to go ahead and attempt to breed your own crickets, you'll need to get the following items:Plastic storage containers- Rubbermaid works great Small plastic tubs for nesting Egg cartons/flats Jar lids for food Screening Heat pad or light (optional but they do best in a slightly warmer temperature) Crickets
Basic Cricket Setup
The basic setup of a cricket bin is rather simple. You will want to place plenty of egg cartons, or egg flats, In the plastic storage container. Make sure to leave enough space to place the food bowls.
You do not need any substrate at the bottom of the container, as this will make cleanup much harder, plus you're going to add a laying box for the females.
You may want to put screen on the top of the storage container, to help reduce the smell, although it is optional. You will need some type of lid, though, otherwise you will have a number of escapees.
You can use the lid for the container, if you choose. Just make sure that you drill holes in both the lid and sides of the container to allow air flow.
To lessen the smell, you can leave the lid cracked, which will allow more air flow through the container, this also creates less humidity. The lower the humidity levels means less smell.
Crickets can survive at average house temperatures, but they do prefer high temperatures of 80-90 degrees, so you may want to use a heating pad or lighting to create higher temperatures.
Crickets can be fed a variety of food products. Just remember it is very important to gutload them with nutritious foods before feeding them to your reptiles.
You may want to consider fresh fruits and vegetables in order to supplement them with moisture. I would not recommend damp sponges in the tub because they can harbor fungus and mold after left in the for too long. Some people do find it easier to just provide the crickets with a moist sponge, though.
Try: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, and apples.
Also, remember that a good grain is great gutload. You can either make your own grain gutload, or purchase commercial gutload from petstores or online websites. It is cheaper to buy in bulk amounts online, versus smaller amounts from petstores, but it all varies from how many crickets you plan on housing and whether or not you plan on breeding.
The most important things to do when breeding crickets is to place a nesting box in your cricket tub, keep the crickets fed, house them at proper temperatures, and make sure to clean the habitats.
Although, crickets will breed in colder temperatures, the best outcome occur in warmer temperatures.
In the nesting box, use damp soil, sand, peat moss, or turf (landscaping material consisting of small clay pellets). You may, also, want to consider Bed-A-Beast, compressed dirt, from your local petstore.
Since no other substrates should be in the tub, this is the best place for the crickets to burrow and nest. Leave the substrate a little loost because the crickets will only use the top half inch or so to lay their eggs, anyway. Try using a 2-3 inch deep container or loose substrate. Check the nest box every few days to mist it. If the material dries out, the eggs will not hatch.
After about 4-7 days, the nesting material should be packed with little white eggs. It should then be removed and incubated. Place a new nest box in the large storage container that the breeding crickets are in, with fresh nesting material.
Keep the eggs in the original Tupperware container, and place the original lid on it. Place a heat pad on top of the breeding container. In about 7-10 days, you should find small pinhead crickets, which should then be moved to a rearing container.
Once the eggs begin to hatch, and you have moved the nesting box into a small sweater box container, treat them as regular crickets. Provide them with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and gutload grain. Also, remember to put small squares of egg carton in the tub.
Do make sure to take special precautions at preventing escapees. Have small holes drilled in the sweater box about one inch apart. If you are worried about losing the pinheads, you can use double adhesive tape; placing the tape around the entire inside rim of the container. But, for the most part the sides of the container will be too slippery for the baby crickets to escape.
Continue to keep the nesting material moistened until all the crickets have hatched, which may take up to a week. Once the crickets have reached about 1/4" long, remove them from the rearing container and place them in the larger, breeding container.