Keeping a large supply of live crickets for your reptiles saves you time and money. With a live cricket colony you can buy in bulk and make fewer trips to the pet store for more feeder crickets. If you are not intending to breed and raise your crickets, but just looking to house several dozen for feeding, then the live cricket housing and care is quite simple.
How to House the Live Crickets
House the crickets in a glass aquarium or plastic critter borx with a lid. The lid needs to allow air to pass through and be escape proof. For a glass aquarium, use a screen lid made for reptile aquariums. For the plastic box, the lid that comes with it should work fine if the slots are narrow enough that the crickets can't slip through.
You should know that with the mesh-screened lid, there is a risk that the crickets may eat through the screen resulting in a house full of crickets. However, you can reduce this risk by using a tall aquarium, placing the cricket furniture low to the bottom of the tank, and putting tape around the sides of the tank making the walls slippery.
Line the bottom of the tank or box with paper towels for easy cleaning.
Cricket House Furniture
Use toilet paper or paper towel rolls (sans the paper) and cut up egg cartons as cricket furniture. The importance of cricket furniture is less about making the crickets comfortable and more about making them easy to catch to feed your reptiles. With a toilet paper roll, the crickets will hide inside. To "catch" the crickets you simply pick up the toilet paper roll and shake it into a plastic bag.
In the reptile world, feeding the crickets is referred to as "gut loading" the crickets. Crickets by themselves have little nutritional value for any animal. What's in the gut is the main nutritional value of the cricket unless you are dusting the crickets with reptile vitamins prior to feeding. The overall cricket diet needs to be high in protein. Other than that, you can feed your live crickets most anything that would be nutritious such as vegetables, cat food dusted with dry milk powder (for the extra calcium important for reptile health), alfalfa pellets, fish food, and/or commercial cricket food from the pet store.
For hydration, keep a wet sponge or paper towel and/or fresh vegetables in the tank at all times.
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Heat and Humidity
Crickets are more active in warmer weather. To keep the crickets eating and growing, you'll have to keep them warm. They also need high humidity to ensure they molt easily. About 80 to 90 degrees is the optimal temperature. You can keep them in your warmed reptile room or place a heating pad on the low setting under the cricket container to maintain a warm environment. To keep the humidity up, keep a wet sponge in the container or mist the crickets lightly once or twice a day.
Cleaning the Crickets
They may be just feeder crickets intended for the bellies of your lizards, but keeping crickets still means they need to be kept clean. A dirty cricket container smells more than a little unpleasant and can lead to disease that kills all of your crickets. To keep the container clean, pull out old uneaten food once a day and provide fresh food daily. When your live cricket supply is depleted remove and throw out the paper towel lining and "furniture." Then wash the tank or container with soap and water and rinse thoroughly to remove the soap. Don't use chemical cleaners or disinfectants, as these can kill your cricket colony.