As omnivore’s crickets will eat almost anything, in fact, their diet is very similar to the human diet in many respects. In the same way, it’s important to give them food packed with nutrition that will aid their development, especially if you are thinking about breeding them or using them as pet food to feed the likes of reptiles, snakes, and tarantulas. After all, whatever you feed the prey is going to benefit the predator and in the case of your pet, this can only be a good thing.
Infamous for the chirping sounds of the males of the species, crickets are insects belonging to the Gryllidae family and are often assumed to be closely related to the Grasshopper, yet in reality, they are more related to bush crickets and Weta.
Astonishingly, there are over 900 different species of cricket, with a worldwide distribution. A variety of different crickets are used as reptile feed, with the “house cricket” (Acheta domesticus) and the “field cricket” (Gryllus bimaculatus) being particularly popular. Used as food for pets, they are all generally referred to as “feeding crickets” but the exact species used can vary.
Many people get confused when sexing crickets, as they assume that the ones with the long appendages are male, when in fact the reverse is true. This “tail” is known as an ovipositor, which they use to lay their eggs.
The Cricket Diet
The large majority of cricket species are generally considered omnivorous; having diets consisting of foods from both a plant and animal origin, which is true in captivity and their natural habitats. As a result, they will eat a varied diet consisting of dead organic matter, flowers, leaves, fruit and sometimes even live protein sources such as larvae and pupae.
This doesn’t mean all species will have the same diet in the wild, it simply means they are able to adapt to an omnivorous diet when observed in captivity. In fact, their natural diets can vary tremendously; some can be almost exclusively herbivorous, while certain species source nutrition from a largely predatory diet.
If you have a reptile pet that you feed crickets, or you’re simply curious as to what pet shops, zoos, and wholesalers feed their crickets, below is a list of the recommended cricket food.
What do you Feed Crickets in Captivity?
The advantage of raising crickets is that it allows you to “gut load” your pets prey with lots of nutrition with the knowledge that those nutrients will be passed onto your pet. Therefore, you can think of a cricket as a vessel, the more you nourish them, the more you will nourish your pet reptile or snake. Cricket food is available to buy from most pet shops that have been raised and gut loaded. If you are raising your own, or are simply curious about captive crickets diets, here is what crickets are fed:
- Tropical fish pellets
- Dark leafy greens
- Cat and dog food
- Commercial cricket food
Crickets as Pet Food
If you are planning on “gut loading” your crickets for pet food, then consider concentrating on protein sources above all other food groups, since the majority of reptiles require a high protein diet. Dog and cat food, as well as scraps of meat from your dinner plate are all great sources of protein for crickets. You should feed your crickets a few days before you plan on feeding them to your pet, as this is around the amount of time it will take for their bodies to become loaded with the amino acid nutrients.
Don’t Forget Water
Just like the majority of livings species, insects like crickets also require an adequate water supply to survive. Although they will get a good amount of water from their diet, especially from vegetables, it’s advisable to provide them with a dish of water – tap water is fine. Crickets have a tendency to drown, so it’s a good idea to place some sticks in the dish, allowing them to navigate to the water easily.
Note: If you intend on breeding your crickets, it’s not a good idea to leave a water dish or any standing water source in their enclosure, since the baby crickets (pinheads) will drown. Alternatively, provide them with a damp sponge that will prevent pinheads from dying and provide them with all the water they require. Ensure you regularly check the sponge hasn’t dried up as water will be lost naturally through the process of evaporation.
Is it a good Idea to breed your own Crickets?
Crickets have been kept as pets for generations and in many different cultures including Japan, China, and Europe. They are the ideal pet – low maintenance, easy and cheap to feed and entertaining as you listen to the males sing tunes. However, bear in mind that they don’t live long at all, on average little more than a few months at best.
Many people breed crickets as pet food for reptiles and other carnivorous pets, as they are filled with protein and as live prey, allow your pet to experience the hunt. However, we wouldn’t really recommend this, since in groups; they are noisy, smelly and require a lot of maintenance. The best idea is to order them in large volumes online; this option is far cheaper than making several visits to local pet stores who often sell them at extortionate prices.