Crickets, also known by their scientific name of Acheta domesticus, are insects known for their ability to jump high and for their trilling, chirping sounds. Some people keep crickets as pets. Most often, they are kept in the home to be fed to reptiles as prey. Crickets can be bought in bulk from pet stores or can be bred at home with proper set-up.
Whether you are keeping crickets as feeder crickets for your reptile or as pets, it is important to feed them a high-quality diet. If your crickets are feeder crickets, a proper diet will also help provide your reptile with proper nourishment.
Crickets are omnivores. This means that a natural cricket diet consists of plants and meat and includes protein, grains, and produce. In the wild, crickets will consume a wide-ranging diet including insect larvae, aphids, flowers, seeds, leaves, fruit, and grasses.
If your feeder crickets are healthy, then they will provide your reptile with the most nutrient-dense meal possible. Their diet in captivity should provide them with the same nutrients that they would find in the wild.
What crickets eat. If you are keeping crickets as food for another pet such as a gecko, snake, or bearded dragon, keep in mind that whatever you feed your crickets will also be providing nourishment to your pet. The process of feeding prey crickets nutritious food is known as "gut loading." When feeding your crickets, you can select from a variety of nutritious foods, including:
- Fruits, such as apples, oranges, and bananas
- Vegetables, including carrots, potatoes, squash, and leafy greens
- Grains, such as alfalfa, wheat germ, and rice cereal
- Other packaged pet foods, including fish flakes, dry cat food, dry dog food, and reptile food
- Commercial food made specifically for crickets
If you are feeding your crickets pure fruits, vegetables, and grains, and no supplemental pet food, provide them with a nutritional supplement of some kind to make up for any gaps in the diet. A reptile nutritional supplement can be sprinkled over the cricket's food supply.
How to feed your crickets. Ensure that your crickets have consistent access to food and clean water. Crickets will self-regulate their food intake. There is no need to measure exact quantities of food. Be sure to check at least every 2 days to make sure your crickets still have plenty of food and water. Whole vegetables and fruits can be placed in the cage. Dried pet foods and grains can also be served in shallow dishes or lids.
Common Concerns Feeding Crickets
There are a few best practices to keep in mind when it comes to feeding crickets. These will help your crickets remain as healthy as possible and provide a nutritious meal for your reptile. You will want to ensure that you provide a living situation free from mold and humidity, and that your crickets have safe access to food and water.
Preventing mold and humidity. Crickets require proper air circulation and fresh food to thrive. When humidity levels are too high, your crickets may not survive. It is recommended to store your crickets in a deep container or terrarium with a lid and proper air ventilation. The ideal temperature for crickets is between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
To keep your habitat as hygienic as possible for your crickets, dedicate one side of the habitat to food and water. Check frequently to make sure that the food is still fresh and free of mold. Grains and dried pet food can be provided consistently. These will not mold as quickly as fresh produce, which should be offered more moderately.
Providing a safe drinking and eating environment. Crickets are not very tall, and can easily drown if drinking water is too deep. To provide a safe drinking environment for your crickets, consider filling a shallow lid, such as one from a yogurt container, with a few small rocks or fish tank pebbles and some water. This will provide the crickets with a safe way to access their drinking water while keeping a firm footing on the pebbles.
Some cricket owners will submerge cotton balls in water and place those in the habitat. This provides crickets with a safe way to stay hydrated. For food supply, it is recommended to keep the food separate from the water source so that grains and dry food do not become damp and more prone to mold.