Keeping Quantities of Crickets
Why bother to
keep crickets on hand at home?
Let's face it. It is a huge pain to keep running to the pet store to
get crickets everytime your reptile is hungry. Not to mention the fact
that the crickets that you do bring home are generally not very well
nourished and therefore are not good food items unless you feed them
for a few days. If you own more than a few insect eating lizards it
becomes a necessity to keep the food items on hand and in quantity.
Here is a
brief description of how I keep my crickets at home. Follow the link at
the bottom for a detailed care sheet for keeping them and even breeding
I order crickets in 2000 quantities
through the mail. It is way cheaper than the pet store and very convenient.
I believe that the smallest quantity you can get through the mail is 500
but different businesses have different policies so you will have to check
Housing the Crickets
I keep my crickets in a 10 gallon fish tank with a screen cover. The screen
cover is the kind with very small holes. The smaller crickets can get
out of the larger holed ones. Actually some of the larger crickets can
squeeze through those holes. Anyway... stick with the tiny hole mesh and
you will be all set. As for where to place the whole tank; maybe your basement or if you have a nice garden shed in the yard that could work too if your climate allows for it.
Getting the crickets out of the box and into the tank can be a daunting
task. The first time I did it there I had mass cricket escape and they
were everywhere for weeks. It was so bad that I had to resort to squishing
some of them. After that nightmare I figured out that the best thing to
do was not to open the box the way it was intended to be opened. Instead,
you want to cut the box open on one of the short sides (side with the
screen on it) with a good pair of scissor/snips or a razor blade. First
you shake the box so that the crickets all go down to the other side.
(You don't want to be hacking them in half.) Then you start to cut all
around the edge with the screen until it is totally cut out. Now, very
quickly you have to rip the cut-out section off and flip the box over
into the tank. Then you just start shaking it A LOT until you think that
they are all out of there. The trick with the shaking is to not shake
out the egg cartons, just the crickets. You can kind of hold the egg cartons
in place with your fingers while shaking the box. Once you think all the
crickets are out flip the box back over and take the egg cartons out one
by one. Check for any leftover crickets. If there are any just flip the
egg carton upside down on the tank and whack it once or twice. Any leftovers
will fall into the tank. Check the "empty" box after all the
egg cartons are gone. There may be a few resilient ones left in there.
All of this has to be done rather quickly or you will have escapees running
all over the place. Once you have done this a couple of times you will
be an old pro at it. Generally speaking, after all the shaking I do to
the box there are none left on the egg cartons.
Now you need to rip up some
of the egg cartons to give the crickets something to walk around on. It
gives them more floorspace. If you just leave them on the floor of the
tank they will crush one another. I rip the cartons into pieces that are
about 6-7 inches square and stack them to about halfway up the tank.
You can't just keep them in there until it is feeding time. "You
are what you eat" is a good thing to remember here. The better you
feed the crickets, the more nutricious the dinner your herps will get.
This is called "gut-loading". With that in mind I feed my crickets
ground up (in a nut chopper) dry cat food and dog food a lot of the time.
They also get leftover iguana salad (chopped veggies and greens). You
can also feed them fish flakes, oatmeal, other meals, etc. Anything nutritious
that you have laying around. The ground up leftovers in the bottom of
(non-sugary) cereals works too. Crickets will eat just about anything,
just make sure it is nutritious. For liquid I give my crickets slices of orange or some
"cricket water". Oranges are better than water because they
are packed with Vitamin C and the crickets can't drown in it. Don't put
a dish of water in there because you will have lots of drowned crickets.
They hop in and can't hop out. I also use the "make your own" water crystals that you add water to.
Method of Cricket Handling
I know there are lots of you out there that would rather not have to ever
touch the crickets. Here is the no-touch way of doing it. All you need
is one of those tall deli containers, the ones that are about 7-8 inches
tall and 4 inches wide. Cole slaw comes in them. All you have to do is
place that container in the tank with the crickets, grab a piece of egg-crate
with crickets on it and whack it on top of the container. The crickets
will fall in to the container and cannot get out. Be careful not to do
this too close to the top of the tank or you will have them hopping over
the side to freedom. Once in a while you get the super cricket that can
hop out of there, but not too often. Now you can dust the crickets with
calcium or vitamins if you wish and dump them into the tank with the hungry
lizard! No touching necessary. For those problem feeders you can use forceps
to grab the back leg of the crickets in the container. They are a bit
easier to catch in such a confined space.
Detailed Cricket Care Sheet (Melissa Kaplan)
Other Insect Prey Care with links to suppliers (Melissa Kaplan)