The Ideal Cricket Habitat Includes Bedding, Nutrition, and Plenty of TLC.
Raising crickets to feed your reptiles and pets is everyone's greatest desire. But knowing what's required for a perfect cricket habitat is a major challenge.
The house cricket, or Achetus domesticus, is a hearty little insect. But if you’re interested in raising them to be the healthiest little arthropods you’ve ever seen there’s a number of factors to keep in mind. Healthier crickets make better meals for your pets, and reduce the amount of work you’ll have to do with your colony since there’ll be fewer of them dying. Let’s take a look at some of the environmental factors that go into making sure your crickets are doing their best.
Temperature-Not Too Hot or Too Cold
Most of us don’t think about the ideal range of temperature for our crickets often, but the temperature has a huge variety of effects on their health and even their life cycle. It’s an important consideration, but before we look at a couple of possible solutions let’s discuss the ideal temperature.
The perfect temperature is a matter of small debate, but most recommend keeping your crickets around 76°F. The actual range they can thrive in is about 60°F to 85°F, so be sure to monitor your enclosure’s temperature. They’ll go dormant under 60°F or so, and die if they hit too much above 100°F. This makes more work for you, and isn’t exactly great for them since they’ll be… well, they’ll be dead.
Temperature determines the lifespan of crickets as well, even within their preferred range. Hotter crickets will mature and breed faster, but they also won’t live for quite as long. Most estimates you’ll see online for cricket life-spans have a variation of up to 200%, most of this is due to fluctuating temperature rather than any genetic differences in the crickets.
If you’ve been keeping them for a while and have a precise way to control the temperature, you may wish to consider upping the temperature to around 82°F in some of the cages to ensure faster breeding and maturation. Most of us are better off just leaving them at a solid temperature though.
Controlling the temperature can either be simple or complex depending on your own living situation. A lot of keepers place them in a garage with climate control, which also ensures protection from drafts and the like. This is probably the simplest solution, but there’s a few others available.
Other solutions are pretty much the same as you would control temperature for any animal. Heating lamps, as opposed to pads, are ideal for this purpose. You’ll be able to get away with lower wattage than you would on a, for example, bearded dragon cage due to the lower temperature requirements.
Fans can be useful if the area you live in has a particularly hot summer climate, but in most cases you’ll likely have to rely on a central air system to keep them under 85°F
Control the Humidity
Here things can get a little bit more complicated.
Pinheads and nymphs, the earliest stages of life for crickets, require rather high humidity. We’re talking close to 85%. This is relatively easy to achieve with misting, but it’s one of the reasons we recommend keeping separate hatching enclosures from your mature cricket cages. Well, that and cricket cannibalism.
This is also the reason few people who keep crickets will recommend using a water dish, instead try to feed them food with high water contents or consider investing in one of the hydrating gels available on the market.
Mature crickets, on the other hand, do best with a humidity approaching zero percent. Depending on your location, this can be rather hard to achieve but a highly humid environment is a leading cause of colony failure. In all honesty, most climates will be fine, especially indoors. Otherwise running an indoor dehumidifier in the room they’re in should generally suffice.
Obviously, if you’re not already using one, a dehumidifier can be quite an investment to make. Adequate ventilation is the best way to combat the build-up of humidity, but it’s not going to lower it any more than the ambient humidity in the room. There are also commercially available dessicants which can be placed in the enclosure which will absorb some of the ambient moisture and you may want to take a look at these.
Keeping the humidity down isn’t just vital for your crickets, it will also help to keep the smell to a minimum which makes things easier on you.
If you’re keeping crickets, it really is a simple affair most of the time. Keeping the best crickets possible on the other hand requires some level of control over their environment in order to ensure that they stay happy until they meet their inevitable end as feeders for either you or your pets. It really is a fairly simple matter, but it’s always good to be aware.