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Product Review: Gel-Based Water Sources for House Crickets (Acheta domestica)

Cricket Gel SupplementThe house cricket is something of an insect oddity…at once both an adaptable, widely introduced species and a somewhat delicate captive.  Native to southwestern Asia, it fares poorly in the damp conditions favored by field crickets and other North American species. 

Providing a Water Source: the advantages of gels

House crickets will not survive long in damp conditions, but they do need to drink quite a bit of water, and herein lays the main problem in keeping them.

The crickets drown rapidly in standing water, and cotton or gravel-filled bowls foul quickly.  Stagnant water, and mold on damp sponges or oranges (2 other common methods of providing water) supports bacteria that seems, for reasons not completely understood, to rapidly decimate cricket colonies.  Misting the colony, a useful technique as regard many insects, is worse, and again will result in heavy losses.

The advent of gel-based cricket water substitutes is one of the most important recent innovations in food animal maintenance.  These products save time and money by cutting down on losses.  More importantly, crickets that live longer have improved chances of consuming a nutritious diet, and thus are themselves a more valuable pet food.

I use Cricket Drink and R-Zilla Cricket Calcium Drink Supplement exclusively.  Both are fortified with calcium and other nutrients, and are readily consumed by crickets.  No other water source is necessary.  Millipedes and sow bugs will also feed upon these gel cubes, and they would be well-worth trying on scorpions and tarantulas.

A Warning: Condensation

Even when fruit and standing water is dispensed with, be sure to guard against condensation buildup.  This occurs most frequently in crowded enclosures, and will wipe out your colony in short order.  Adequate ventilation and roomy holding containers are of key importance in avoiding damp conditions.

Next time I’ll review some commercial cricket diets.  Please write in with your own tips for keeping crickets and other food animals.  Thanks, until next time, Frank Indiviglio.

You can read about the natural history of the house cricket here.

 

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About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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