Crickets (Achetus domesticus) are one of the most widely used food items
for reptiles in captivity. They move quickly catching the attention of your animal.
Adults are around 1 inch in length with males being a little smaller than
females. Once crickets reach adulthood they live a few
weeks and have a total life span of about
Crickets are very easy to house. Any plastic container works but I
prefer to use Rubbermaid’s. I have found glass aquariums not
very effective and therefore don’t recommend them. Glass tends
to stay cooler with inconsistent temperatures rather than plastic and
you may experience die offs. The size of the container doesn’t
really matter but make sure it’s an adequate size for the amount
of crickets that will be housed. Don’t over crowd the containers
as you may experience die offs. I use 56 quart Rubbermaid containers
that house 1000 pinheads or 500 adults comfortably.
Substrate - I suggest not using any type of substrate to minimize
maintenance. This will make cleaning much easier and greatly decrease
Hides - Place a few egg cartons in the container. This will let them
hide and feel more comfortable. Hiding places are essential for the
colony to survive. This will also allow you to house more crickets
in your container but make sure they aren’t overcrowded.
Heat & Light - Crickets will thrive in warm temperatures.
The preferred temperature should be around 85 degrees fahrenheit. If
too cold they slow down to a dormant state which will result in slow
growth. Temperatures too cool will result in large die offs. Light
is not needed as the crickets are most active in the dark.
Food & Water:
Crickets will eat just about anything you give them. Offer highly nutritious
items such as carrots, potatoes, kale, alfalfa, citrus fruits etc.
Make sure to gutload all food items for 24 hours prior to feeding.
Gutloading is feeding very nutritious/high quality foods (such as
the ones listed above) to prey prior to feeding to your animals.
There are also many commercially available products that are in powder
form. I make and use Pro Gutload for all my feeders. Gutloading will
ensure a healthier insect and in the long run a healthier animal.
Water - This can be given in a variety of ways including water gel,
fruit, water pillow, moistened sponge or paper towel. If you are using
a water pillow, sponge or paper towel these will have to be cleaned
or changed on a daily basis as crickets will foul these water sources
quickly. Water gel and fruits work well as the crickets will consume
them to re-hydrate. I have used shallow water dishes in the past and
they were somewhat successful with adults but smaller crickets had
a tendency of drowning. Crickets will routinely drown in a drop of
Crickets do require a little work especially to reduce smell. You have
to make sure they are cleaned and that they have plenty of food and
a clean water source at all times. Every couple of days brush and pick
up the waste. If you want to clean it every day that's fine too and
I actually recommend it. Remember the cleaner the crickets are the
healthier they will be and that will in turn go to your animals. The
odor is also greatly decreased when they are kept clean. Every few
weeks to a month change the egg cartons.
Breeding crickets is fairly easy and straight forward. Time and patients
will be needed to raise your own but the good news is it’s possible
and can greatly help your feeder bill.
Sexing - There are a few different ways to sex crickets. One way is
to look at their size. Males are considerably smaller than females.
Another indicator is the males are the ones that make all the noise.
You can visibly see them moving there wings and shaking their body.
Adult females are quite large especially when carrying eggs. They have
a little stick that protrudes from their rear called the ovipositor
which is used for egg laying.
Breeding - Place all the adult crickets you want in a container.
You will see and hear the males chirping so you know activity is going
on. Take a shallow deli cup or Tupperware container and fill it with
moist but not saturated dirt. Place this with the crickets near their
egg crates so they can access it. This is where the females will lay
her eggs. Keep them warm and make sure enough food and water is available.
Every 1 to 2 weeks rotate the egg laying container and put a fresh
one in. Take the one with eggs and place it in a new cricket container
and keep them warm so the eggs hatch. After a few weeks you’ll
see many little dots popping around. These are the newly hatched pinhead
crickets. One female in her entire adult life time could lay up to
2,000 eggs so expect a lot. That’s basically it! All you have
to do now is wait.
Crickets are one of the most popular feeder insects and have been the
top food item for reptiles and even birds in captivity for quite
a while. They can be very nutritious with proper care and are produced
in the millions year round for the purpose of food.