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Selecting Crickets: Sizes, Species, and What's Best for Your Needs.

Posted by Marcia Cripps on

Table of Contents

Why should you feed your pet crickets?

Feeding your cherished pets—be they bearded dragons, amphibians, birds, or small mammals—a nutritious diet is essential for every conscientious pet owner. Within the diverse menu of feeder insects, crickets emerge as a standout choice, renowned for their rich nutritional profile and the simplicity with which they can be offered to pets. Yet, the world of crickets is as varied as it is fascinating. This guide ventures into the intriguing distinctions between house and banded crickets, illuminating the path to selecting the ideal cricket species that aligns with your pet's unique dietary needs.

Crickets are celebrated for their robust protein content, an array of essential vitamins and minerals, and their pivotal role in encouraging pets' instinctual hunting behaviors. Introducing crickets into your pet's diet does more than satisfy their hunger; it also adds a layer of enrichment that significantly elevates their overall quality of life. Available at both brick-and-mortar pet stores and through online vendors, crickets are relatively easy to procure and maintain. This ease of accessibility makes crickets a superbly convenient option for pet owners, even those navigating the demands of a hectic schedule.

House Crickets (Acheta domesticus)

Detailed wide-format image of a house cricket (Acheta domesticus) occupying center stage, with a focus on its light brown body and long antennae, set against a simple background for use in educational content and discussions on house crickets in ecosystems

House crickets, scientifically known as Acheta domesticus, are the unsung heroes of the pet care world. Originating from the Middle East and now found globally, these crickets are a mainstay in the diets of a wide variety of captive animals, thanks to their adaptability and ease of breeding. With their light brown coloration and the distinctive chirping of the males, house crickets add a touch of nature's music to the environment. Their popularity among pet owners isn't just due to their nutritional value, which includes a balanced mix of protein, fat, and fiber, but also their ability to stimulate natural hunting behaviors in pets. Easy to care for and breed, house crickets represent a sustainable choice for pet food, requiring minimal resources to produce while offering maximum nutritional benefits. They can be gut-loaded or dusted with supplements, ensuring that pets get a comprehensive diet that closely mimics what they would find in the wild.

House Cricket Pros:

  • Widely Available: House crickets are the most common type of feeder cricket, making them easy to find in pet stores or through online suppliers.
  • Nutritional Value: They offer a good balance of protein, fat, and fiber, making them suitable for a wide range of pets.
  • Cost-Effective: Their abundance and ease of breeding make house crickets one of the most affordable feeder insects.
  • Gut-loading Potential: House crickets can be easily gut-loaded with nutritious foods to enhance their nutritional value before being fed to pets.
  • Versatility: Suitable for a wide range of pets, including reptiles, amphibians, and birds, offering a versatile feeding option.
  • Calcium Dusting: They readily accept calcium and vitamin dusting, allowing pet owners to supplement their pet's diet as needed.
  • Feeding Control: Easy to count and monitor, helping pet owners control portion sizes and prevent overfeeding.

House Cricket Cons:

  • Noise: The chirping sound, while natural and often pleasant, can be considered a nuisance by some pet owners.
  • Disease Risk: If not properly sourced or cared for, house crickets can carry parasites or diseases that might be transmitted to your pet.
  • Lower moisture content than banded crickets, which might not be ideal for all pets.
  • Escape Artists: House crickets are skilled at escaping from enclosures, which can lead to infestations if not managed carefully.
  • Shorter Lifespan: They generally have a shorter lifespan than some other feeder insects, requiring more frequent purchases.
  • Cannibalistic Behavior: Without adequate food or space, house crickets can turn cannibalistic, reducing the number available for feeding.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies: On their own, house crickets might not meet all the nutritional needs of certain pets, requiring dietary supplements.

Banded Crickets (Gryllus assimilis)

Hyper-realistic illustration of a banded cricket (Gryllodes sigillatus) prominently displayed against a monochromatic background, showcasing its distinct light to dark brown body and band patterns for educational and entomological blog posts.

Banded crickets, or Gryllus assimilis, stand out in the feeder insect world. They're larger than the common house cricket, making them a hearty meal for bigger pets. What sets them apart visually are the distinctive dark bands wrapping around their bodies, a nod to their name. Originating from warmer climates, these crickets are well-adapted to thriving in heat, which contributes to their resilience and long lifespan under captive care. This durability makes banded crickets a reliable food source for pet owners, reducing the frequency of replenishment and offering a practical benefit. They're particularly favored for their higher protein content and the moisture they provide, making them an excellent dietary choice for a wide range of insectivorous pets. Their robust nature, combined with their nutritional benefits, cements banded crickets as a premier choice for those looking to diversify and enrich their pets' diets.

Banded Cricket Pros:

  • High Moisture Content: Banded crickets contain more moisture than house crickets, making them especially beneficial for hydrating pets.
  • Hardiness: They are known for their robust nature, able to survive longer and under harsher conditions than house crickets.
  • Quieter: Banded crickets tend to produce less noise, which might be preferable for pet owners sensitive to the chirping of house crickets.
  • Protein Content: Higher protein in comparison to house crickets making them a great choice for growing/active pets. 
  • Longer lifespan: Longer lifespan, sometimes twice as long as other crickets 
  • Better Climbers/Jumpers: Their ability to climb/jump better can provide more entertainment and exercise for pets that enjoy hunting their food.

Banded Cricket Cons:

  • Availability: Banded crickets may not be as readily available in all areas, which can make sourcing them more challenging than the more common house crickets.
  • Cost: Due to their sometimes limited availability and the costs associated with their breeding and distribution, banded crickets can be more expensive than house crickets
  • Nutritional Imbalances: While rich in protein, banded crickets may lack in certain vitamins and minerals essential for the health of reptiles, amphibians, and birds, necessitating supplemental dusting or gut-loading.
  • Risk of Overhydration: For pets that do not require a high moisture diet, the higher water content in banded crickets could potentially lead to overhydration issues.
  • Predation Stress: The active nature of banded crickets might cause stress to more timid or less aggressive pets, making feeding time less efficient and potentially distressing for the animal.

Feeding Crickets: A Guide for Reptiles, Amphibians, Birds, and Small Mammals

When it comes to feeding your pets, especially if you have reptiles, amphibians, birds, or small mammals, crickets are a popular choice. They're not just a source of food; they bring a slice of the wild into your pet's daily routine, encouraging natural behaviors and providing essential nutrients. But there's more to it than just tossing crickets into the enclosure. Let's break down what you need to know to make cricket feeding a success.

Reptiles and Amphibians: The Calcium Connection

Reptiles and amphibians have unique needs, particularly when it comes to bone health. Calcium is key, and one way to ensure they're getting enough is by dusting crickets with calcium powder before feeding time. This simple step can significantly boost the nutritional value of the crickets, supporting your pet's overall health.

Birds and Small Mammals: Hunting and Foraging

For birds and small mammals that naturally eat insects, crickets are more than just food. They stimulate natural hunting and foraging behaviors. Birds like finches and robins, and small mammals such as hedgehogs and sugar gliders, benefit from the physical activity and mental engagement of chasing live crickets. It's not only healthy but also entertaining to watch.

Storing and Feeding Crickets Properly

Getting the most out of feeding crickets involves a bit of prep work:

Temperature: Keep your crickets in a well-ventilated container at a cozy 70-75°F to keep them alive longer.

Feeding Your Crickets: What your crickets eat, your pet eats. Feeding them nutritious food ensures they're a healthy meal for your pet.

Hydration: Crickets need water, but not too much. Use wet sponges or cricket water gels to prevent accidents.

Gut-loading: Feeding crickets nutrient-rich foods 24-48 hours before they're eaten boosts their value as a meal.

Dusting: A light coating of calcium or vitamin powder can enhance the crickets' nutritional content.

Eco-Friendly Choice

Choosing crickets isn't just good for your pets; it's good for the planet. Compared to traditional livestock, cricket farming is more sustainable, requiring less land, water, and feed. So, feeding your pets crickets is a step towards more responsible pet care.

Choosing the Right Crickets

The decision between house and banded crickets comes down to your pet's specific needs and your own preferences. House crickets are a common choice, but banded crickets offer benefits like higher moisture content and less noise. Understanding your pet's needs is crucial in making the best choice for their diet.

  • How often should I feed my pet crickets? It varies. Younger pets usually need more frequent feedings. Adjust based on your pet's species, age, and health.
  • Can my pet live on crickets alone? Variety is crucial. While crickets can be a big part of their diet, adding other feeder insects, vegetables, or commercial diets is important.
  • How do I keep crickets disease-free? Buy from reputable sources and keep their container clean to minimize risks.

Feeding crickets to your pets can add an enriching aspect to their care routine. With the right approach, it can enhance their health, satisfy their hunting instincts, and even reduce your environmental footprint.


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