How to Breed and Raise Crickets

Why keep buying crickets to feed your pet when you can breed your own?

Crickets have two main functions in nature: to eat and to be eaten. Fortunately this makes them ideal as pet food. It is actually very easy to breed and raise crickets if you can stand the racket they make, here’s how you do it.

Housing

Crickets can chew through plastic window screens and cardboard, and they are impressive jumpers, so you’ll need a container with strong, smooth walls and a secure lid. I find an aquarium with a metal mesh lid works fine. You don’t want something air tight because of the smell and heat they give off that can build up and kill them. In order to maximize the area the crickets can move around in, pile up several paper towel roles in the enclosure. This also makes it easier to deliver the crickets into your pet’s enclosure by simply picking up a tube, and shaking the critters into a new tank. You can also use old egg cartons like pet stores do, but I find that it’s harder to get the crickets out of these things. You don’t need any kind of heater or special light for crickets. Regular night and day is fine for them, and large numbers of them produce plenty of heat. I do, however, recommend keeping them out in a shed or a basement as the sound and smell they produce can be overwhelming at times. At the bottom of the enclosure, you should have about two inches of very loose soil. Peat works well.

Feeding

Crickets are omnivores and eat just about anything, but since you are probably feeding them to your pets, you want them to be eating good foods so your pet benefits from it. This is called “gut loading” and will help keep your pets healthy. A small dish with oats, fruit, and even a piece of dog food should keep you crickets fat and ready to be eaten. Though if you just want them as pets, a slice of potato can keep them alive. Keep in mind that if you don’t keep crickets well fed, they will pray on each other.

Water

This is what causes the biggest problem for most people. Crickets have an annoying tendency to drown. So much so that I got a crayfish for my frog tank to clean up all the dead ones at the bottom of the water. Fortunately there are several ways to provide these chattery critters with a drink without killing them. The simplest way is to wet down a folded up square of paper towel, wring it out a bit, and put it in with the crickets. They will suck the water out of it at no risk to themselves. You just have to change the paper towel every other day. The method I prefer, however, is a tad more technical, but you can leave it alone longer. You take a small plastic soda bottle (12 oz.), clean it out, and cut a rectangular notch in the rim. It should be about half an inch deep. Now take a jar lid that’s rim is taller than the notch you cut, put a ring of paper towel around the inside of it that will fit around the bottle top. Now you fill the bottle with water, put the jar lid over the top, and turn the whole thing upside down. If down properly, the paper towel will be damp, but the water won’t overflow. You only have to change the paper towel and water from this setup about once a week. Just make sure you place it in a corner to learn so the whole thing doesn’t fall over.

Breeding

Male crickets are the ones that chirp to get the females attention. You can tell which is which by looking at the rear end. Females have a long, stinger looking thing called the ovipositor. This is used to lay her eggs in soil and is not actually a stinger, contrary to what some of my coworkers seem to believe. There are cricket breeding kits out there, and though I have never used one, I’ve heard bad things, so I’m going to tell you how to do it yourself. There really isn’t much to it. You just need a loose soil which you should already have in your tank, keep it good and moist, and you females should stick their ovipositors into it and lay their eggs. I am also told that short, dense carpet is good for egg laying, but I haven’t tried it myself. The eggs are long, white little things that tend to be laid in clusters. they hatch in about two weeks, and the babies are about the size of a pinhead. You might mistake them for some kind of mite pests. As long as you keep your crickets well fed, you can keep the babies with the adults. If you want them separate, then instead of putting the soil on the bottom of the tank, put it in several dishes that you can remove from the tank after you observe the females laying eggs. you can place the babies in their own container. If you do this, I recommend keeping the babies warmer than the adults, this will help them grow faster. Remember to keep the soil moist, and don’t use potting soil as it is often treated with pesticides. You should be able to find a suitable substrate at the pet store, or you can just get some moss off a tree. Crickets don’t go through a wormy larvae stage like some insects, they simply hatch and start running around. They will shed their skins and grow steadily, but don’t expect them to go from baby to adult over night. It can take a month or two for them to grow into adults. You may still need to buy adult crickets from time to time, but using these methods should help reduce the number of trips you need to take to a pet store.

Other Stuff

Although crickets don’t have a stinger, they can bite if you handle them roughly. If you do need to pick one up, try cupping it in your hand rather than pinching it between your fingers. Crickets make their chirping sounds by rubbing their wings together, and you can use this chirping to guess the surrounding temperature. Count the number of chirps in 15 seconds and add 37 to that number. The result should be pretty close to how warm or cold it is.

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  1. Poppyhop

    On October 21, 2008 at 7:02 am

    I bought crickets from the pet store. My mom is doubtful that I can breed crickets from the pet store. Also, how many should my little tree frog eat?

    Poppyhop

  2. Togot

    On October 22, 2008 at 1:40 am

    Poppyhop, crickets from pet stores are perfectly capable of breeding, and if you follow the instructions, you shouldn’t have any troubles. as for your frog, an adult frog can eat 3-5 large crickets a day and be healthy.

  3. Heather

    On February 20, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    Ive tried breeding crickets but have had no luck. How moist do you keep the soil? This may be my problem.

  4. Togot

    On February 21, 2009 at 1:18 am

    Heather, you should mist the nesting material daily and provide a heating pad underneath it with a piece of cloth between. After 4-days you should start to see tinny little white crickets about the size of a pin head inside the nesting area.

  5. Andris

    On May 8, 2009 at 5:01 pm

    Hey Togot, your information has been very helpful, but I have a fwe questions. After a cricket molts, how long does it take for its exoskeleton to harden, and can you make a cricket mature faster if it’s not a newborn? And how can you control the sex of the unborn crickets?

  6. Togot

    On May 9, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    Andris, it should only take a few hours for a crickets shell to harden, but during this time they are especially vulnerable. The only way I know of to help crickets grow is provide them with warmth, and plenty of nutritional food to eat. I believe that temperature plays a role in determining sex for crickets, as with many egg laying animals, but I do not know which sex is produced by higher temperatures.

  7. br1993

    On May 23, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    the little brownish crickets u get from the pet shop…they are breeding and i dont even have any soil in it…could someond explain why this might be happening?

  8. Togot

    On May 24, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    br1993, crickets continually breed and lay eggs, even if their is nothing to lay them in, but the eggs are most likely to survive in moist soil. I’ve had them lay eggs in the plastic bags i bought them in, but only a few of the eggs survived to hatch.

  9. br1993

    On May 24, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    yeah…but i had 3 crickets in the tank and i look 2 hours later and there was 3 more and they werent pin heads…they were small bu not tiney?

  10. Togot

    On May 24, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    br1993, i’m afraid i honestly can’t explain that one. my only guess is that other crickets got into the tank somehow

  11. br1993

    On May 25, 2009 at 8:48 pm

    oh? well idk

  12. jason

    On May 26, 2009 at 4:10 am

    what size crickets should i buy to breed or can baby ones breed aswell thanx

  13. Togot

    On May 26, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    Jason, full grown crickets that can chirp are usually best. young ones tend to die before they mature if you’re inexperienced at caring for them.

  14. phil

    On August 13, 2009 at 11:20 am

    I bred crickets for about 2 years for my bearded dragon. The only problems i ever encountered were the cage with the crickets in it was left in sunlight and they were all cooked rather quickly with a terrible smell! The bigger issue was that the crickets you buy from the store are wingless, but after several generations of breeding they develop wings like most crickets in nature. These wings contain high levels of cretin which is toxic to most captive bred reptiles in large amounts. Feeding these crickets on a consistent basis to any animal is posing a huge risk to your pet! It is possible that the cage was contaminated by wild crickets but i dont think that is very likely. USE CAUTION AND LOOK OUT FOR WINGS!

  15. mak

    On October 5, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    We have crickets and only some of them have wings is it bad for our Anoles and leaopord geckoes?

  16. mary

    On October 5, 2009 at 9:14 pm

    Or will it even bother our pets?

  17. Togot

    On October 6, 2009 at 3:06 am

    Mary and Mak, after reading Phil’s comment, I’ve been searching the web for confirmation of his information since it was something I had never heard of, but I have been unable to find anything that supports cricket wings being toxic to animals. Many of the crickets I buy from the store do in fact have wings and I also feed them field crickets from outside and I have never had a problem. My gecko remains fat and happy.

  18. Mak

    On October 8, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    ok that is good because all the one we get from the pet store mostly have wings. And in the sommer time we feed our leapord gecko field crickets and kadidids. And he is still happy and in good health.

  19. Mak

    On October 8, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Oh P.S. Togot what kind of gecko do you have? Just woundering

  20. Mak

    On October 8, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    Oh another thing is we are breeding our crickets. It is going good so far and our mother and father crickets are eating the eggs. I took the out and put them in a shoebox with a heat rock on the under side. Is that good enough for our babay crickets. P.S. I spray the nesting material every day and if it looks like it is getting dry

  21. Mak

    On October 8, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Oh this i Mak again I just want to say if you want to learn how to take care of Anumber of reptiles, Amphibians, Birds, dogs, cats, and fish visit http://Petoskeypet.yolasite.com. I found it on he web and it is pretty true with all it says. Please visit it

  22. Togot

    On October 9, 2009 at 3:36 am

    Mak, that sounds like it should be ok. crickets will eat just about anything including each other. i’ve found the best way to avoid this is to give them planety of other food to eat instead.

  23. Mak

    On October 9, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Yeah we buy ours in bulk (Like 2,00 at a time). And the big ones usually try to eat the little ones. But we keep tyhem well fed.

  24. Mak

    On October 9, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    I meant 2,000

  25. Elizabeth

    On May 29, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Is there a ratio of how many crickets per how much space?

  26. Ravisha

    On March 19, 2011 at 6:16 am

    Hi There
    We have been trying to breed crickets. We had a first batch of pin heads, about 500 of them, I estimate.

    It has been 3 months (banded crickets) and they are quite small in size. How long does it take to grow to full size?

    Another question, do we have to use a heat pad, and how can you increase the growth of the crickets?

    Any advise will be helpful

    Tx
    Ravisha
    South Africa

  27. Togot

    On March 23, 2011 at 3:50 am

    Ravisha, they should grow pretty quickly. Using a heating pad under their container should also speed up their development, and giving them a good diet will help as well. The hardest part is preventing them from drowning. Providing them a damp paper towel that you will have to replace regularly as it starts to grow mold usually work well

  28. Joseph

    On March 10, 2012 at 12:13 am

    Hi TOGOT I havnt breed any crickets yet so before I start breeding i want ask some questions.will they start eating each other or will they mate? Also what’s the best kind of container should I use? And,I have the new product that are jello thing like that contain water,or should I stick to what you said a paper roll with some water in soaked in it. And my last question is what would happen if my crickets don’t have any wings?

  29. Joseph

    On March 10, 2012 at 12:13 am

    Hi TOGOT I havnt breed any crickets yet so before I start breeding i want ask some questions.will they start eating each other or will they mate? Also what\’s the best kind of container should I use? And,I have the new product that are jello thing like that contain water,or should I stick to what you said a paper roll with some water in soaked in it. And my last question is what would happen if my crickets don\’t have any wings?

  30. Joseph

    On March 10, 2012 at 12:15 am

    Sorry about the extra one I probably clicked twice.

  31. Joseph

    On March 10, 2012 at 12:38 am

    And if we had a hygrometer how moist should it be 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 or 100 percent?

  32. Joseph

    On March 10, 2012 at 12:50 am

    Sorry for so many question but this is the last question so… After that I wont bother you. How big does the crickets size does the crickets size they have to be before breeding? And also how can you tell if they are healthy?

    From,
    Joseph

    To:TOGOT

    Date: 3-10-12

  33. Togot

    On March 18, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Joseph, they will eat each other if they are not fed enough. They will even eat their own hind legs if they are starving. I’ve used the jelly things myself, they dry out quickly and grow mold if you don’t refrigerate the jar, I wouldn’t recommend relying on them to keeping the crickets hydrated. I prefer a glass aquarium because I find it easier to clean when need be. I don’t know the exact percentage but it doesn’t need to be too humid, just warm. As long as they have water to drink, they should be ok. Crickets without wings can’t chirp, so they might have trouble attracting mates, but other than that, there shouldn’t be a problem. Most crickets don’t get wings until they are sexually mature, this is the sigh that they can mate more than their size. If they are active, you can assume they are healthy.

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