Cricket Care Sheet
Crickets are of the easiest livefood to keep and by far the most commonly used livefood, they have a high meat to shell ratio and moisture content. There are three species or cricket commonly available, these are brown, silent brown and black. Black crickets tend to have a much more aggressive temperament and with their bulkier body shape they tend to be slower and much worse at jumping.
A hatchling brown house cricket. As you can see it is almost transparent in colour and it was very difficult to photograph! Just a few hours after they hatch the skin pigment darkens and hardens, giving them better protection.
To the right is a photograph of three first instar brown house crickets feasting on some green veg. As you can see they are slightly larger and have the brown colour skin. At this stage they are very sensitive to humidity which will kill them unless they are kept in well ventilated areas.
 Housing and Heating Crickets
The best way to house crickets is in the biggest plastic tub you can find (of course glass is fine), as long as its deep enough to prevent the crickets escaping then it will be fine. Ventilation is greatly important to crickets so make sure the lid is filled with holes, you can do this with a drill or a soldering iron. As crickets prefer to perch a substrate really is not necessary, so a simple stack of egg crates does the trick and also provides hiding places. I usually lay a few kitchen rolls on top of the egg crates, this way when I want some crickets I can just shake them out of a roll - no mess. For water provide a dish of damp kitchen roll, this prevents drowning and is easily changed when it gets dirty.
When it comes to cleaning time after a week or two, there are several options. You are probably best lifting out the hides slowly and transferring them to another tub while working around the crickets to clean the tub. Shake the crickets off the egg crates and throw them away, swap them with clean ones and you have a nice clean tub of crickets. Alternatively you could just use as many of the crickets as you can and then throw the whole lot away!
Some cricket keepers come with special rough sides up until half way up, this enables the crickets to climb half way so when you clean the floor, they will just perch out of the way. Keep crickets at a temperature of 18 - 22C (black crickets prefer slightly higher temperatures) and in a dry environment to prevent fungal infections.
Crickets will eat almost and including anything. You want to provide them with a good supply of dry foods, "bug grub" is a cricket feeder that has a mixture of ingredients designed to be fed to insects so that they have a good gut content and provide ample nutrients to your pets. Alternative foods can be used such as bran, weetabix, digestives and bread. Fruits such as grapes, apples or vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes and cabbage provide extra vitamins and moisture.
 Breeding Crickets
Adult female crickets have a long egg laying tube called an ovipositor, she will find a damp place and deposit 1.5mm long torpedo-shaped cream-coloured eggs. You may notice them on the kitchen roll used as a water dish. Provide a moist tub of soil for her to lay in and after 5 days move it into a hatching tank and add another moist tub so they can lay again. Since the crickets have no other substrate in the cage, the crickets tend to burrow into the nesting medium and disturb the eggs. If it is packed gently, the crickets will only disturb the top Â½" or so and their eggs will be just below this. Use a container at least 2-3" deep so the crickets can lay their eggs down below, where they will not be disturbed.
To incubate the eggs, place the nesting tub somewhere warm and with plenty of ventilation. Tiny pinhead or micro crickets will hatch after 20 days depending on the temperature and humidity. The resulting hatchlings are highly prone to dying out and should be provided extra ventilation and moisture but not at the cost of making the air too humid.