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Keeping Fresh Crickets

It's a given that those of us with large collections, or with insect hungry animals such as baby beardies, will eschew tubs of crickets in favour of the much more favourable bulk buy. The problem with this, is that crickets kept for more than a few days, seem to start to die off at an alarming rate if care is not taken. This is an article which shows one way to keep crickets fresh and well fed, based on the authors own experience. This method also makes it very easy to remove a quantity of crickets when required for feeding, and ensures that all crickets are gut loaded, when they are needed.

The two biggest factors to successfully keeping your crickets alive, are humidity, and feeding. High humidity kills crickets very, very rapidly. It is entirely possible to wipe out a colony in less than an hour by leaving them in a high humidity environment. High humidity also creates mould, with both food and egg boxes going mouldy, which is not good for the crickets or your reptiles. The way to avoid high humidity and mould, is firstly ventilation. There really cannot be enough ventilation in your cricket container. Make sure any ventilation holes you make are smaller than the crickets, or are completely out of their reach, otherwise they will quickly escape.

Using a large plastic box is the best way of keeping crickets in our experience. Make sure it has a secure lid, and is deep enough to stop the crickets from easily jumping out when the lid is removed. For 1000 size 4 or above crickets, we use a box which is 18inches by 14inches, and is 14inches deep, and this works well. Overcrowding will increase humidity and therefore the bigger box the better. Drill holes in the lid and also in the top edge of the box itself. We use a soldering iron for this purpose, as it is quick and avoids any cracking which can occur when using a drill. Completely cover the lid with holes, and make holes all around the rim of the box about four holes deep. You need at least a couple of hundred holes to provide adequate ventilation. Including plenty of egg cartons in your plastic box, will provide plenty of hiding spaces and increase the surface area available to the crickets, therefore also improving humidity and survival rates.

Feeding is the other key when it comes to keeping your crickets alive. They eat quite a large amount, but it is also vital that the can get enough water to drink. Providing enough good quality food, also means that any crickets you remove from the tub are gutloaded and ready to feed to your animals. For staple diet, you can buy one of the available bug grub products, or you can use porridge oats. This dry food contains a good balanced diet for your crickets, and doesn't go mouldy or increase the humidity. It's best to keep the food all in one place, to avoid it mixing with the crickets faecal matter, or becoming damp, which invites mould. A cut down plastic yoghurt pot or similar is ideal for this purpose. A whole carrot can be placed in the box and this will provide nutrition and water. Be careful not to let this carrot decompose or make any of the egg cartons too damp, as this will increase humidity and encourage mould. Additional water can be safely provided by including a jar lid or similar filled with damp cotton wool balls. The cotton wool will allow the crickets to safely drink without drowning or spilling into the enclosure.

To remove crickets from the box, place a few toilet roll tubes or a small egg box on top of the egg cartons. The crickets will use these for hiding. When you need some crickets, put a plastic bag in the box and then shake the toilet roll tubes in the plastic bag until you have the desired number of crickets. This will ensure that crickets can be easily removed without any risk of losing crickets into the room, and for the more squeamish keeper, it means that you never need to touch a cricket! When there are fewer crickets in the box, gradually reduce the amount of egg crate in the box and the crickets will continue to hide in your toilet roll tubes. When you run out of crickets, throw away the debris, disinfect the box, rinse well, and you're ready for your next batch of crickets.