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Prepared Diets and Food Supplements for House Crickets – Product Review

Note:  Please see my article Product Review: Gel Based Water Sources for House Crickets for additional information on cricket-keeping.

House Cricket

According to studies carried out at the Bronx Zoo, house crickets, Acheta domestica, should be allowed to feed for at least 48 hours before themselves being offered to captive reptiles and amphibians as a dietary item.  This time period allows the crickets to absorb nutrients that will, ideally, offset their naturally poor ratio of calcium to phosphorus (which should, in most situations, be 2:1).

Feeding Crickets

Chick laying mash, trout chow and baby cereal can all be fed to crickets, but none are formulated specifically for these insects, and each has disadvantages.  When feeding crickets in public collections or at home, I now rely exclusively upon commercial cricket foods.  The following products are all very well-accepted by these perpetually hungry little beasts, and the nutritional profiles of the diets (including calcium content) are based on the latest available research:

Ziegler Monster High Calcium Cricket Food

Orange Cube Cricket Food

R-Zilla Gutload Cricket Supplement

Dietary Supplements

Gut LoadAs has always been my practice, I add a bit of Tetra-Min Flake Fish Food to the commercial cricket foods.  Both are consumed ravenously, and the wide variety of ingredients in the flakes helps assure that the crickets are receiving a healthful diet.

In addition, I add to their diets the powdery residue left at the bottom of oatmeal, wheat germ, nut and whole grain cereal containers.  Oranges, yams, kale, carrots and other fruits and vegetables should also be provided on occasion, but only in amounts that are consumed quickly, lest mold develop.


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.

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


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