Breeding a Cricket Supply to Feed Your Cuddly Frog
November 29, 2012
Alright, for those of you interested in breeding crickets for your amphibian and/or reptiles, this blog will give you one possible method for doing so. There are certainly other methods out there, and they are available on the Internet. The method I am giving here, however, is the one I used myself because I found it to be one of the easiest, cheapest, and most importantly, provided the easiest setup to clean.
As far as supplies, the first thing to do is to stop throwing away those cardboard egg cartons and to start asking your friends and relatives to let you reuse theirs. The number you will need will depend on how ambitious you get with your breeding and how often you clean your tanks. Then you will need to gather some big items, at a garage sale if possible. This includes two or more ten gallon fish tanks, one or more infrared heat lamps, a reptile water bottle for each tank, and one or more air temperature thermometers. You will need a steady supply of cotton balls and food for the crickets.
To set up your breeding farm, first make sure your set up stays at 85-90 degrees F. To do this, set up your tank in the location you want the farm to be in. The best location is one that stays a steady temperature and is away from the main living areas. I kept my tanks in the basement. Place your heat lamps in a location where they will heat your tanks evenly. Over the next few days, keep an eye on the thermometers in the tanks and adjust both the distance of the heat lamps from the tanks and the length of time you keep the lamps on until the temperature in the tanks is maintained between 85-90 degrees F. If the temperature gets colder than this, the eggs will take longer to hatch. And, if it gets too hot, the eggs and crickets will likely dehydrate.
When you have a nice steady temperature, you are ready to complete the setup of the farm. Put in your egg cartons, cutting holes in the sides for the crickets to enter them and stacking a couple on top of each other. Place cotton balls in the tank for the crickets to lay eggs in. It is important to keep the cotton moist – if it dries out, the eggs will dry out and not hatch. Place a reptile/amphibian water bottle in the tank with a sponge stuck in the bowl to prevent the crickets from drowning. Make sure the crickets can get into the bowl of the water. Alternatively, you can you moisture pillows made specifically for crickets.
Once you are ready, head to the store and pick up your crickets. You probably want to start with 50. While you are at the store, you can also pick up some cheap cat food, which is a good protein source for the breeding crickets. Place the crickets in the tank and provide them with some food such as fruits and vegetables and a bit of the cat food. Place the food in a shallow container such as the lid to a yogurt cup, which can be easily removed and replace with a fresh one every couple of days. Make sure the cotton balls stay moist and the water bottle has clean water in it. Remove any dead crickets on a daily basis. Soon the crickets will start laying eggs in the cotton balls. The eggs will start hatching within a couple of weeks if the temperature is kept steady. When the tanks start to get dirty, move the cotton balls to a new tank, change out the egg cartons, and do your best to clean the tank with slightly soapy water and an aquarium brush while the crickets go nuts around you. This way the eggs will hatch in a separate tank, and you will have a separation in the size of crickets instead of having adult and baby crickets all in one tank.
As you gain experience, you will learn how many adults to set aside to maintain the number of crickets you need to feed your reptile or amphibian friends. Make sure to account for friends who learn you are breeding crickets and start asking you for some when they are in need, too!