How to Breed Crickets
In a previous blog post, I talked about how to care for feeder crickets,
including a brief section on breeding crickets to feed to your exotic pet.
Crickets are fairly easy to care for, making it reasonable for many reptile, amphibian, and arachnid keepers to raise their own rather than purchasing crickets regularly at an exotic pet store.
Here’s what you need to know about breeding feeder crickets so that you can maintain a supply of food for your insectivore pet.
Another reason you may want to breed crickets
In addition to the convenience of having a steady food supply available for your reptile, amphibian, or arachnid, raising the crickets yourself also allows you to control their diet. That means you can gut load the crickets with nutritional and calcium-dense foods that will enhance the health of your pet.
Without a controlled diet, crickets are not a nutritionally balanced food for most animals. Of course, you also have the option of dusting crickets with calcium powder prior to feeding your pet.
How many crickets?
You can’t just buy a couple of crickets and expect to have a whole colony. You’ll want to start with around thirty crickets if you’re planning to breed them. This also gives you enough crickets to continue feeding your pet while you wait for the crickets to multiply. You can purchase live crickets at The Tye-Dyed Iguana in Fairview Heights
Crickets kept for breeding have the same habitat requirements as crickets being kept for feeding. They’ll need an enclosed container with ventilation that doesn’t allow them to escape. Note that crickets can eat through nylon mesh coverings.
One thing that is different for breeding crickets is that the temperature you keep the insects at matters. Crickets can live in a variety of temperature ranges, though they get sluggish in the cold. But if you keep crickets at lower temperatures, they are unlikely to reproduce.
For breeding conditions, you’ll want to keep the cricket enclosure in the range of 70 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit, with about 85 degrees being the sweet spot.
There is one other additional feature you’ll want to add to the enclosure to encourage breeding: a container about two inches deep that fits inside the main enclosure. This small container should be filled with substrate and about half an inch of water.
In a few weeks, you should be able to find eggs in the substrate of the breeding dish. They’ll be buried about half an inch deep. Just sift through the substrate to find them.
You do not need to remove the eggs. Once you are sure eggs have been laid, simply remove the breeding dish and stick it in its own escape-proof, ventilated container for the young crickets to hatch.
After hatching, you can introduce the new crickets back into the same container as the adults. It’s as easy as that (though you will need to be careful to avoid cricket escapees when removing the breeding dish and introducing the juveniles).
Note that if breeding crickets is not convenient for you, you can still order crickets in bulk to keep around for your animal and avoid extra trips to the pet shop.