Cricket Care Archives

Before you can begin raising a successful cricket farm, you need some mama and daddy crickets to mate and start the colony.

There are many live cricket retailers where you can buy these crickets.  The supplier that you will order your crickets from greatly depends on what region of the world you live in.  There are different suppliers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, South Africa, Australia, or anywhere else you might be located.

You may prefer to go to your local pet shop to get your crickets if you don’t want to worry about them dying in shipping.  However, you’ll often find that they cost much less if you order them online, and many farms have a guarantee that you’ll receive live crickets or be refunded.  Not all stores sell the same species of crickets.

Here are some of the best sellers within the United States, along with where they are located and the species of crickets they carry:

  • Ghann’s Cricket Farm (Based in Augusta, GA) -   banded crickets (Gryllodes sigillatus) -  Ghann.com
  •  Mulberry Farms (Based in Fallbrook, CA)  -  banded crickets – Mulberryfarms.com
  • Fluker Farms ( In southern LA, but they have distributor locations in almost every single state) – house crickets (Acheta domesticus)  Flukerfarms.com
  • Carolina Crickets (Based in Woodruff, SC) – house crickets  – Carolinacrickets.com
  • Armstrong’s Cricket Farm (Glenville, GA with multiple locations) – house crickets – Armstrongcrickets.com

I could only find one website for Canadian suppliers, but here it is:

  • Super Cricket – house crickets – Supercricket.ca

And some of the popular ones in the United Kingdom are:

  • LiveFood UK – black field crickets &  brown crickets – Livefoods.co.uk
  • Live Foods Direct – black crickets, banded crickets, & brown quiet crickets – Livefoodsdirect.co.uk
  • Rs Reptile Supplies – black & quiet brown crickets – Rsreptilesupplies.co.uk

In Australia, I only found this one, though I’m sure more exist:

  • LiveFoods Unlimited – house crickets – Livefoods.com.au

You can also order live crickets through Amazon cricket farms. They’ve got a few different cricket farmers that sell live packaged crickets on their site.   The great thing about Amazon is that you can read the reviews to get a feel for the seller before you buy.  Anyway, most of the suppliers I’ve listed here have positive long-standing reputations.

egg cartonsIf you’re a brand new owner of an awesome reptile or amphibian pet, then you’ve no doubt had your first experience with crickets. They are still the most common feeder insect in the world, available from pet shops as well as large farms. When you buy online or from pet stores, you may notice that they include a piece of egg carton with your cricket purchase. In addition, if you happen to do a little research, you’ll find that most sources recommend putting egg cartons or crates in the cricket enclosure. A common question that I get here at Cricket-Breeding.Com is: Why are crickets supposed to have egg crates / cartons in their containers with them?

There are a few specific reasons. All of the following reasons have to do with mimicking the crickets’ natural habitat in order to keep them healthy and ensure that they live their full lifespan (or as long as you need them to).

Reason #1.) Personal Space – Believe it or not, crickets are exceptionally territorial insects. They do not live together in large colonies with hundreds of others in the wild.  In fact, they are fairly solitary insects. Males and females will sometimes share a burrow for mating purposes, but that is the extent of it.  The nature of the male is quite aggressive toward other males.  They have a tendency to fight and even eat each other.  The egg crates act as separators or dividers of territory for these insects. Although the insects will still move around, the egg sections allow each cricket to hide in its own personal den away from others if it chooses.  The more crickets you want to fit in a certain container, the more imperative the egg cartons are.

Reason #2.) Security - Outside in nature, crickets don’t like to just hang out in the open. They take cover under rocks, logs, shrubs, or debris. In a domestic habitat, egg cartons serve that purpose.  Hiding under these things makes them feel safe rather than stressed. Stress will shorten the lifespan of your crickets. Aside from egg cartons, toilet paper rolls can also help crickets feel secure.

Reason #3.) Safe Source of Fiber - Crickets like to chew on stuff and they will likely chew on most items you put into their bin. The key is to be sure that you ONLY use CARDBOARD egg cartons!  Cardboard egg cartons are loaded with fiber that is safe for crickets to eat and is processed by their digestive system. Styrofoam or any other material can be lethal!  However, paper products, including cardboard, are edible for Orthopteran insects (the scientific class that crickets belong to).

Reason #4.) Easy Transportation – Egg cartons / crates make it so much easier to transport crickets from one bin to another, whether for cleaning or feeding. People often ask how to move the bugs without touching them.  The egg crates serve as a magic school bus for crickets.  Just take out the cartons and gently shake them into the destination tank.  Then put the crates back in the original tank, wait a few seconds for the buggers to hop on, and repeat.

There you have it. Those are the top explanations for why crickets and egg crates are a match made in heaven.  If you’re looking for more information on how to keep crickets happy and alive, feel free to check out the rest of the site and download the ebook featured to the right.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with a former large-scale cricket farmer.  Michelle Farmer and her husband Barry, ran a successful cricket farm in southern Indiana for over 20 years, selling millions of crickets to local pet stores and bait shops. Unfortunately, they were one of many farms forced out of business last year when the cricket virus killed off all of their insects.  In this brief interview, Michelle shares a bit about her cricket breeding years as well as some advice for the newbie cricket breeder.  Although she no longer breeds crickets, she now owns a large ebay store. The link to her store is at the end of the interview.

Interview Questions:

Q. 1.) What was the name of your cricket farm and where were you located?
A.) The Cricket Farmer, located in Southern Indiana

Q.2.)You and your family were in cricket farming for over 20 years…that is impressive.  How did you and your family first get into the business or what was it that inspired your family to start a cricket farm?
A.) I use to work at a pet shop and our crickets came in dead all the time.

Q.3)If you were to estimate, about how many crickets were living on your farm at any given moment?
A.)  Billions!

Q.4.) When the cricket virus infected your farm, did you just wake up one day to find hundreds of dead crickets or was it a more gradual process?  Please describe your experience as best you can.
A.) Gradual.  First it will hit the pinheads and then it goes for the 1/4″ until you can’t raise any more.  It’s an air born virus. Once you get it, quit for at least a year.

Q.5.) Since the cricket virus only infects the Acheta domesticus cricket species, some cricket farms began breeding different cricket species, such as Gryllus assimilis, so that they could stay in business.  Did your family try this? Why or why not?
A.) No, it takes a lot more space to grow that type and they eat each other more than the domestics.

Q.6.) Do you recall any particularly funny moments from your cricket farming days?  (or a most memorable moment?)
A.) Yes, we had a film crew in to shoot a show on the crickets. They found out that if you turn off the lights in the building, all the crickets get quiet for a few seconds. It was 45 minutes before they would stop turning off the lights. Also, they bet my son 5 bucks if he would eat a live cricket on the air. He did. It was very funny!

Q.7.) What advice do you offer to the average person who wants to breed crickets at home for their pets?
A.) Start small and make a room for just the crickets. You could plastic-off an area of your reptile room. Keep everyone out, off limits to outsiders. You have to keep any dead crickets out of the box, as it just makes more die.

 Q.8.) After you closed your cricket farm, you began an eBay business. What kind of items are you selling?
A.) Antiques and Collectibles.

Q9.) If you’d like to provide your eBay store link to share with my readers, I will include it on my site when I publish this interview.
A.) www.thecricketfarmer.com

I’m  very thankful for the opportunity to share a few moments with Michelle!  As she mentioned, keeping cricket enclosures clean by removing dead crickets regularly is extremely important.  Check my my tips for cleaning cricket cages.

If you spend a bit of time hanging out in the reptile / amphibian communities online, or you talk to a variety of lizard or frog owners, you’ll soon discover that everybody has their own preferences when it comes to caring for and feeding their cold-blooded pals. Some prefer to use worms as a staple of their pet’s diet, some prefer crickets, while others try to pack in as much diversity as possible.  In recent years, Dubia roaches have seen a slight rise in popularity as feeder insects.  A common question that often comes up is:  Crickets or roaches?

In this article, I will make the case for crickets.  Although my personal preference is crickets, I will not pretend that roaches do not have advantages.  Some of the top reasons that people choose roaches include their inability to climb, jump, or chirp, and the notion that they are less prone to odor and contain greater nutrition.  However, as I will present below, a couple of the supposed benefits of roaches are actually no different with crickets.  Additionally, there are many other reasons to choose crickets.

PROS of Crickets  (vs. Roaches):

*Crickets do not bury themselves Talk to anyone who breeds roaches and they’ll have to admit that the creepers are extremely fast at hiding underneath whatever they can find. If substrate is present, they will dig into it and bury themselves. Crickets, on the other hand, are easier for both you and your pet to find and they do not dig or burrow (unless you’re dealing with mole crickets).

*Crickets can be bred as fast or slow as you want – Most species of field crickets are naturally fast breeders. However, their reproduction cycle and lifespan can be controlled by making their environmental temperature warmer or cooler. Warmer temperatures will increase the breeding rate and shorten the lifespan, while cooler temperatures slow down the breeding and increase the lifespan.  Dubia roaches, however, do not reproduce nearly as easily.  Temperature alterations can help, but roaches do not come close to the reproductive versatility of crickets.

*Crickets are commercially available on a wide scale  – Unlike roaches, crickets are part of a huge commercial breeding industry. This is most likely because of their faster breeding rate which makes them a more profitable investment for business.  This is an advantage for you even if you never intend to raise feeders for profit.  If something happens to your colony for one reason or another, there are many farms and cricket suppliers that you can turn to in order to obtain new insects.  Not so with roaches. There are very few commercial roach breeders around. In fact,  in many countries, it is actually illegal to breed or sell roaches.

*Many reptiles prefer to chase something that hops – This one sort of goes along with the first point I mentioned. While roaches tend to burrow and avoid movement (they are expert hiders), crickets actually hop around and entice your pet to go in for the kill! Every lizard is different, so it is possible that yours may not care whether its food moves or not. However, it is good exercise for a predator animal to have to chase its food.

*Crickets are not roaches- Roaches are plain gross! Alright, well this is just my preference but I prefer not to have roaches in my home.  ;)

 CONS of Crickets (vs. roaches)?

* Require cleaning to prevent odor – It’s a misconception that crickets stink no matter what!  The truth is that they just need proper ventilation and maintenance.  It may require a tad more work than roaches, but nonetheless the odor can be eliminated. I discuss ideal cleaning methods in my guide, Cricket Breeding Made Easy. However, there are some cleaning tips published on this site.

*Some species chirp louder than others – If you can’t stand any chirping, then crickets may not be the right feeder for you. However certain breeds do not chirp as loud. There are ‘silent crickets’ you can obtain. They are not usually exactly silent, but they are much better than some other species.  I discuss more about that in the e-guide.

I hope this article has helped you decide whether crickets or roaches are right for you. Regardless of your decision, I hope to have provoked some thought with my above points.

The size of the crickets you feed your lizard or other insectivorous reptile must correlate properly with the size of your pet.  For example, a baby bearded dragon should never be served full-size crickets. For this reason, it is important to sort out the smaller insects from the larger ones in the group. Whether you breed your crickets or buy them in bulk mixed sizes, you’ll eventually see that sorting crickets by hand (merely picking them out one by one) can be a tedious, time-consuming process. Here is a system for sorting many crickets all at once, quickly and easily:

Things you’ll need:

  • 2 Large Buckets ( 2-gallon or larger)
  • Drill & Drill Bit(s)
  • Egg crates / cartons

 What To Do:

1.) Take one of the buckets and drill several evenly spaced holes in the bottom. The drill bit size you use depends on what size crickets you want to separate. For instance, if you determine that you need to sort out crickets that are 1/4 inch or smaller, you would choose a 1/4 inch (6.35mm) drill bit.

2.) Take the bucket with the holes and place it inside the other bucket.

3.) Use the egg crates to transport your crickets into the top bucket. Once the crickets are in the top bucket, you may place a cover over it to prevent any crickets from getting out.

4.)  Wait a few minutes. Soon enough, the smaller crickets will slip through the holes in the top bucket and be displaced to the bottom bucket.

5.) Carefully lift the top bucket out and retrieve your sorted crickets from the bottom.

**It is important to note that this may not work perfectly the first time you do it.  However, with a bit of trial and error, you will get the hang of it! **

You may need to experiment to figure out what size holes work best for your needs. Depending on how many crickets you are sorting, you may also need to keep them in the bucket longer in order for more of them to fall to the bottom. Keep track of the time and record your results.  Since there are so many species of crickets in various sizes, I cannot tell you exactly how many minutes it will take for your crickets to go through the holes.  If, for some reason, none of the crickets are making it to the bottom bucket, there is a chance that the holes are too small for even the tiniest crickets in your batch.

If you have any questions, you can reach me at JM (at) cricket-breeding (dot) com.   For more information on caring for feeder crickets, check out my e-manual Cricket Breeding Made Easy.

For those who’ve never kept crickets before, it may come as a surprise just how much the little guys can poop.  Not only that, but they also molt.  This can create quite a mess when you’ve got several hundred insects living in closely confined quarters.  Fresh food and gut loads may also begin to decompose and start to smell bad if they are not dealt with promptly.

Here are a few tips to help you when it comes time to clean the cricket cage:

1.) Decide Whether to Scoop the Poop or the Crickets  -  Although I outline my recommended method in Cricket Breeding Made Easy, it is possible to keep the crickets in the cage while you do basic cleaning.  Obviously, they’ll have to be moved when it’s time to do a real washing and disinfecting.  For general poop upkeep, the choice is yours.

One way to clean while the buggers are still in there is to tilt the entire enclosure to one side so that everything slides to that end.  Be sure to take the water out first though.  Then take the egg crates and move them to the other end.  Most of the crickets will stay attached to the egg crates so they will not get in your way when you scoop out the gunk that has collected on the opposite side.

2.) Make Full Use of the Egg CratesEgg crates are a magical phenomenon that should not be underestimated.  Place them inside a cricket bin and within minutes they’ll be covered with crickets.  Cardboard crates are excellent vehicles for transporting crickets between containers.

3.) Move Swiftly and Smoothly – When transporting egg cartons full of crickets, move as quickly and smoothly as possible.  Avoid any sudden or jerky movements that may incite a hopper to hop off the crate!  Your goal is to get the crates from one container to the next without losing a cricket. It helps if the transportation distance is as short as possible.  Try to keep the two enclosures next to each other and this will prevent escapes.

4.)  Be Careful with Pinheads – Pinhead crickets are extremely fragile and get injured easily.  I advise against moving them because you can end up killing most of them by accident. Because of their size, they are also much better at getting loose. It is best to clean a cage before the pinheads hatch.  Afterward, refrain from moving them until they are at least 1/4 an inch long.

5.) Don’t Waste Good Food – Before you start dumping everything out, make sure you’ve removed any good food from the cage.  It would be a shame to waste food that is still fresh. Take it out and move it somewhere first.  Once you’ve finished cleaning, place it back in the cage so that it gets eaten. On the contrary, don’t hold on to any food that may be less than fresh.

More tips coming soon.  In the meantime, be sure to opt in to our free cricket breeding e-course and get the complete system to breeding and keeping crickets!

More than a few times, we’ve emphasized the importance of feeder crickets being maintained on a nutritious diet as well as being properly gut loaded.  There are many types of feed that are healthy for the crickets and ensure that your reptile or amphibian benefits from the nutrients passed on.  However, it turns out there are additional ways you can maximize your pet’s nutritional intake by manipulating the diet that you serve the crickets, and even reconsidering the breed or species of cricket that you use.

Last week we published a recent study that shows how some feeds contain higher levels of carotenoids (antioxidant-acting pigments) than others, and how some cricket species retain these nutrients better.  They found that brown house crickets (Acheta domesticus), black European crickets (Gryllus bimaculatus) and tropical house crickets (Gryllodes sigillatus) each absorbed the highest amount of carotenoids from eating fresh fruit and vegetables as opposed to fish flakes or wheat germ.  All the tested species absorbed the least amount of carotenoids from consuming wheat germ.

The black European crickets, Gryllus bimaculatus, came out of this study as the most nutritious cricket to feed your pet!  In each experiment, they retained significantly greater amounts of carotenoids than the other tested species.

If you live in Europe, you should have no problem getting a hold of the black Gryllus bimaculatus crickets.  They seem to be available from many “.uk” suppliers.  On the other hand, if you are in the United States or another part of the world, you may not have access to this particular species.

If you are stuck using a different cricket species, no worries. You can still use the findings of this research to improve your pet’s health!   Just opt to include more fresh vegetables and fruits  in your gut loads since they contain more carotenoids.

Also, do not forget the timing factor.  Another important fact is that nutrient retention decreases with each minute that passes after your crickets are gut loaded.  For the best results, you should aim to give the gut loaded feeders to your pet as soon as possible to prevent your efforts from being wasted.  Try not to wait more than two days at most.

Credits:
Special thanks to the researchers at the University of Manchester (UK) for conducting the carotenoid study and also to the Zoo Biology journal for publishing the results.

Crickets are fast, hoppity little buggers.  It’s almost as if they have a secret tool kit for sneaking out of cricket keepers and vivariums.  But the truth is, they are just very good at squeezing through holes, cracks, and crevices that us humans tend to overlook.  If you’re finding that your crickets are getting loose on a regular basis, there are a few possible reasons.  In this article, we’ll discuss methods for preventing escapes by addressing each of the main causes.

There are three main ways that crickets escape:

1.) Cracks / holes in your cricket keeper

2.) Cracks / holes in your pet’s terrarium

3.) Accidents during feeding or cleaning

The first two issues are the most common culprit. Ironically enough, most of the commercially available kits specifically marketed as “cricket keepers” do not appear to be designed for crickets at all.  For example, “Lee’s Kricket Keeper” and “Nature Zone Cricket Kit,” are both structurally flawed, and notorious for escapes.  The spaces in the top of these critter cages are large enough for most insects to squeeze through.  This is not only bad because your crickets get loose, but also because other insects can get in!

A good way to test to see if your cricket keeper is the problem is to place your keeper inside a tall, open garbage bin.  Leave it there for a few days to a week and you’ll be able to check and see if you find loose crickets in the garbage bin.  Since the walls of the trash bin will be too high for crickets to jump out, any crickets that escape the keeper will be stuck inside the trash bin.

Another possibility is that the crickets are getting out after being placed in your pet’s terrarium.  In the past few years, there have been several reports of crickets escaping certain models of Exo Terra glass terrariums.  These terrariums usually have small holes in the upper back section designed for power cords and other connection cables (for lighting / heat, etc) to pass through.  One thing you can do is check for these holes and cover them up with tape.  In addition, you may want to check for small gaps between the back wall and background. Crickets can hide in there and eat your background before creeping out through one of the wire holes.  Try not to place too many crickets inside your pet’s enclosure at a time.  If they are not eaten quickly, this increases the odds that they’ll be destructive or get loose.

On the other hand, if you have only found a few liberated crickets, it is possible that they slipped away while you were transporting them to or from a different container. The obvious solution to this is to try to be more careful while transporting.  You’ll find more specific tips inside the cricket breeding manual.

Frequent Question: If I don’t catch them, will they reproduce in my house?

If you believe that many crickets are running free in your home, you may be concerned about whether or not they will reproduce.  Keep in mind that crickets need a very specific environment to reproduce and unless your house meets these specific needs, it is unlikely that a colony will develop.  They are attracted to moisture and warmth, and require a soft substrate to lay their eggs.  Without these essentials, they just wont stay alive long.  Unless you have a plumbing leak somewhere in your home, the odds are low that these insects will survive long enough to reproduce.

Do you have a cat or dog?   If so, this should ease your mind.  Cats are especially talented at tracking down crickets, but even dogs can help keep the loose insect population under control.

If you’re new to owning reptiles, you may wonder what’s up with the obsession over proper nutrition in the community.  Why all the fuss about gut loading and dusting the feeder insects?   Can’t your reptile get its necessary nourishment naturally?  Why is there a need for additional supplements?  How can that possibly be beneficial to an exotic animal?

In short, it is based on some hard facts that we sometimes don’t want to accept.  The bottom line is that a large majority of captive reptiles will suffer a nutrient deficiency (particularly calcium) at one time or another during their domestic life.  For many of these reptiles, if left untreated, the deficiency develops into a fatal bone disease.  This type of deficiency or nutritional imbalance DOES NOT occur in the wild!  It has only been observed in captive animals, which leads us to believe that it is caused by their diet or other aspects of domestic care.

In their wild habitat, reptiles have access to a variety of food sources. An insectivorous lizard, for example, can eat flies, worms, locusts, small mice, small lizards or salamanders, scorpions, and a multitude of other living organisms it may come across during its outdoor life.  This provides a balance.  The problem is that we tend to rely too heavily on one type of insect to feed our domestic reptiles.  In most cases, it is most convenient to use crickets as the primary feeder.  Crickets are high in phosphorous, but do not contain a sufficient amount of calcium without being gut loaded on high calcium feed or dusted in a calcium supplement powder (prior to being eaten by our pets).  This is why it is so important to gut load our crickets!

So what if you offer more variety by also feeding roaches or worms?   Unfortunately, even most commercially sold worms and roaches are high in phosphorous and low in calcium.  You will still need to gut load and dust.

If you own an omnivorous lizard such as the Bearded Dragon, then there are additional ways you can balance out the calcium in its diet.  Aside from gut loading and dusting your crickets, you can offer high calcium greens such as mustard greens, collard greens, and turnip greens.  Insects should only make up a maximum of 40% of an adult (over 1.5 years of age)  bearded dragon’s diet.  The rest of the diet is to consist of plants, veggies, and fruit.

Besides gut loading and dust coating your crickets, what else can you do to prevent a nutrient deficiency?  Make sure that your reptile has access to a UVB light.  This is typically accomplished through a special lamp fixture that attaches to the top of the terrarium.  UVB light is necessary for the reptile’s body to properly synthesize vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 plays a crucial role in allowing your pet’s body to absorb calcium.  You could be gut loading and dusting your crickets like crazy and your pet would still suffer if it does not get enough Vitamin D3 to absorb the calcium.   Finally, be sure to research your specific reptile species and be certain that your are maintaining the ideal temperature for it.  Temperature aids in food digestion and can also contribute to the absorption of nutrients.

Gut loading your crickets and other feeder insects is one essential step toward preventing disease, and it should not be compromised.  To get ideas for what to include in your gut loads, check out the What to Feed Crickets page.

House crickets and field crickets are the main commercialized bait and feeder crickets across North America and Europe due to their fast reproduction cycle.  Because of this, you may not be able to find a whole lot of information on how to care for other cricket species.  This does not mean, however, that you can’t successfully raise a different breed yourself.

There are some advantages to breeding a different type of cricket.  Camel crickets, for example, have a much longer lifespan and they do not chirp.  It is possible to have peace and quiet when raising camel crickets.  At the same time, there are other differences that may be considered disadvantages.

Breeding & Caring For Camel Crickets

For the most part, you can follow the same steps outlined in Cricket Breeding Made Easy.

But, there are a few important tweaks that you’ll need to make to customize the process so that it is fitting for camel crickets.

Camel cricket differences:

1.)  Unlike field crickets, camel crickets do not like bright lights or excess heat.  Don’t use a heat lamp. Camel crickets prefer a cool, damp, and dark environment. However, if your house is cold, or you want to speed up the breeding, you may use a heat pad on a low setting underneath the tank.  Bright lights may deter the camel crickets from mating or laying eggs.

2.)  Camel crickets jump much higher and faster than field crickets. For them, jumping is a defense mechanism they use to ward off predators. They can jump up to 3 feet high!  You’ll have to be more careful when opening the tank.  With camel crickets, it may be harder to prevent escapes.

3.) Camel crickets can live 2 years or more depending on the specific type and environmental factors.  This is a drastic difference from the common cricket which only lives 2 months at best.  The camel cricket gestation period is also a few weeks longer than that of the common cricket.

4.) Since camel crickets are not bred on a mass commercial basis, the only way to get them is to catch them yourself.  It is important to note that wild-caught crickets can contain parasites that can be detrimental to your pet.  Unfortunately, there is no real way to tell if a cricket has a parasite, until the parasite reaches maturity and emerges.  If you are going to breed camel crickets, the least you should do is wait through one entire breeding cycle to make sure that zero parasitic worms or flies appear.  If a month goes by and you do not see any signs of hairworms or flies, then the crickets are probably clean.  Remember, you feed your pet wild-caught crickets at your own risk.

Camel crickets can add a bit of variety to your pet’s diet if you are comfortable with the potential risks associated with raising wild-caught insects.  For less adventurous folks, I recommend you stick to breeding domestic feeder insects that you can purchase safely from trusted suppliers.

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