Feeding - Breeding Crickets
You want to offer your breeding crickets a simple, yet nutritional diet. Whatever you feed your crickets you are essentially feeding your reptiles as well. In this sense, a nutritionally fortified cricket will lead to a nutritionally fortified reptile.
Diets high in protein and calcium will benefit your reptiles and the breeding crickets most. Many cricket breeders have found that dry cat or dog food, mixed with calcium and a vitamin supplement, tends to be the most successful. Dry cat food is the better choice unless you already have dog food available. Cat food tends to have a higher nutritional content than dog food since the 2 animals have different requirements. Fresh vegetables given when available will add to the nutritional content of the diet.
Simple Cricket Diet Recipe - Breeding Crickets
Cricket Diet Preparation - Breeding Crickets
I like to blend my ingredients up in a food processor. This mixes everything extremely well and also helps to break up the content some. Do not puree the mixture. You simply want smaller chunks that are evenly mixed together.
Once mixed, take all of the mixture and place it in containers that will keep out moisture. Then place those containers in a cool, dry place for storage. This mixture will last the average home breeder for several months.
Offering this diet to the breeding and baby crickets is extremely simple. Just take some of the mixture and place it in their feeding dishes and replenish it on an as needed basis.
Alternative Cricket Diets - Breeding Crickets
There are several commercially available cricket diets on the market. If you decide to use one of these products, ensure that you have read the ingredients and nutritional content on the package. Some of these products are not very nutritional and will require supplementation when fed to your crickets.
If you are breeding a small colony of crickets and want to offer an excellent diet to them, you could use dry fish food flakes. Fish food is extremely nutritious and palatable, but they are expensive and not suggested for larger breeding colonies due to costs.
In order to sufficiently save money and feed a large breeding colony, it would be wise to prepare your own diet.
Fact: Crickets are cannibalistic and will prey upon one another occasionally, even when there is an abundance of food available.. This is one of the reasons we rear the offspring independently from the breeding adults.
Gut Loading - Breeding Crickets
Gut loading is the process by which your insects are fed nutritious foods before being offered to your reptile. Gut loading is usually done with high nutrient foods for a period of 24-48 hours prior to being offered to your pet. This ensures that your reptile is being given the most nutritious crickets you can offer.
Fish flakes are a great gut loading agent as they are extremely high in nutrients.
Sexing Crickets - Breeding Crickets
Sexing crickets is very easy. Females have 3 extrusions that extend from the abdomen. One of the extrusions is called an ovipositor while the other 2 are referred to as cerci. Cerci (singular cercus) are sensory organs. Both males and females have 2 cerci. On males, the cerci tend to be more prominent.
The ovipositor is a reproductive organ located between the cerci on females. This organ does not appear on males and is very apparent. The image below shows the cerci on either side of the ovipositor. If the ovipositor is present, you have a female. If it is not, you have a male.
Fact: Females use the ovipositor to deposit eggs. They insert the ovipositor into the substrate, in the egg laying box, and the eggs then travel through the ovipositor into the substrate; where they will stay until they hatch.
Breeding The Crickets
Breeding will transpire so long as you have male crickets, female crickets, food, water, shelter, and proper temperatures. Without any intervention from you, and often right in front of you, the males will seek out and mount the females. Crickets are extremely prolific and breeding will begin almost immediately. They are so prolific, you may already have females who have bred in the transport container in which they arrived.
Incubating Eggs - Breeding Crickets
Egg incubation is very simple. Every 7 days you should replace the breeding crickets nesting box with a fresh one. The one being removed should be placed in the rearing container used for incubation, directly over or under the heat source. The cover to the tray should be placed back on top of the incubation tray, though not locked on. The idea is to keep the humidity up so that the medium doesn't dry out. If it were to dry out, you would lose all of the eggs that were deposited.
Pinhead crickets should become noticeable within 7-10 days. At this point you should move the incubation tray to one of the rearing containers, described in the next section.
Tip: Leave the incubation try in with the newly hatched pinheads for 3 days after the eggs have hatched. This will allow the stragglers to hatch and then the tray can be used again during cycling. Also, you may want to use the duct tape to attach small ramps up the sides of the incubation trays to ensure the crickets can easily enter and exit it.
Continue to cycle through the trays until you have the amount of crickets that you require. You MUST remember to re-add crickets to the breeding containers once they are over 1/4 inch long. Failure to re-add crickets to the breeding container will result in your colony dieing off.