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Crickets are the most widely fed prey item for insect feeding reptiles. They are an excellent diet, but they must be properly cared for before they are fed to your lizards. Crickets may have been feeding on cardboard for several days in shipping before you acquire them, so they must be properly fed to be of use to your reptiles.

Diet

Zeigler Monster Cricket Diet is a nutritionally complete food for your crickets. This diet is designed for all ages of crickets, and is fine enough to be fed to pinheads as well as larger crickets. Not only is it a complete diet for your crickets, it is a nutritious calcium-rich diet that will increase the nutritional value of the crickets as feeder insects for your reptiles.

For moisture, use a piece of apple or carrot, or dark greens. Carrots are especially good, as they can provide beta carotenes which may help enhance your animals color. If you use exclusively greens avoid spinach due to some anti-nutritional compounds found in this green. Avoid using citrus fruit, as this may lead to problems with the crickets because of the acidic nature of this fruit.

There are some gels that can be used to provide moisture for your crickets. These will also work very well for your crickets.

Housing

Any smooth-sided, easily cleaned enclosure can be used for crickets. Glass aquariums will work. Tall plastic storage bins work well. Garbage cans also work well. While crickets may have a difficult time climbing a smooth sided cage, it's still a good idea to use a lid, especially if your crickets are kept in the house. The size of the enclosure depends on how many crickets you have, how long you need to keep them, and what temperature they are kept at. Generally, a ten gallon aquarium will house enough crickets to feed a few reptiles, but if you are buying 5,000 or 10,000 at a time, a garbage can or large plastic storage bin may work better for you.

Required Equipment

Crickets need to be set up with structures to allow them the climb and get away from each other, and with a food bowl or plate, and a bowl for their moisture source.

The egg crates that come with a box of crickets are excellent for providing structure for the crickets to crawl on. If you buy smaller quantities of crickets, crumpled newspaper can be used for the same purposes.

A very shallow dish should be provided for food for your crickets. A small paper plate will work well for this.

Water is generally provided with moist vegetables or with a gel designed to provide water for your crickets. This should also be provided in a small shallow dish.

Substrate

Crickets will do best with no substrate. The cage needs to be cleaned regularly, so a substrate will simply make this more difficult.

Maintenance

Crickets need to be kept clean to reduce the mortality while you keep them. Ideally, the dead crickets, exoskeletons and cricket feces should be swept out every day or every other day.

The veggies or other water source should be replaced every day. If they are left too long they will draw flies.

The food should be topped off daily. It is very important that your crickets do not ever run out of food.

Make sure your crickets are gut-loading for at least 24 hours in your care before you feed them to your reptiles.

The enclosure will need to be disinfected periodically. Crickets are very sensitive to trace levels of certain disinfectants. You can clean with hot, very lightly soapy water. Make sure you rinse the enclosure very thoroughly before any crickets go back into the enclosure.

For many natural history and reptile related references, check with www.zoobooksales.com

For help in finding a reptile veterinarian, check with the Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians, at www.arav.org

 
     






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