Keeping Reptiles Newsletter
Vol 2, Issue 4    
March, 2006
Taking Care of Crickets
In this Issue

Adapted from an article by Christina Miller

Acheta domestica, Common Cricket







 Vit C mg/kg

Ca mg/100g









Crickets are the most common feeder insect. They are relatively easy to care for, cheap, and readily available. They aren't picky eaters, either. This allows you to gut load them easily on nutritious foods so that your reptiles will benefit.

Crickets on Vermiculite

Your cricket enclosure can be anything from a ten gallon aquarium to a large plastic garbage pail, depending on the size of your colony. The cricket must have enough space or surfaces so that the insects do not have to pile on top of each other. For the cover, use aluminum screen, as crickets have been known to eat through many other alternatives.

The most efficient hide spots would be paper towel tubes and cardboard egg cartons. One of the benefits of cardboard egg cartons (the base only or the large trays) is that they can be stacked if you have a lager number of crickets. They are cheap and easily disposed of (please remember to recycle). Also, you can easily shake off crickets as needed.

Substrate often not used suggested. Many keepers find the enclosure much easier to clean without substrate, and some say that the offensive odour of a cricket enclosure is lessened without substrate. A good substrate that does absorb moisture and reduces odour to some degree is vermiculite. This can be obtained through garden or horticulture store and some larger hardware stores.

These insects enjoy temperatures higher than the average room temperature, about 26-32 degrees C (80-90F). However they seem to live longer when kept at a cooler temperature.

Crickets will eat nearly anything you give them. A good staple food for the insects is tropical fish flakes, but also feed them bits and pieces of fruits and vegetables (apple, banana, orange, strawberry, collard greens, dandelion greens, cabbage, broccoli, etc.), bread, dry alfafla pellets, and other supplemental foods so that the crickets get a balanced diet. A good long lasting food is carrot. This can last two or three days if you are not able to change the food. Old food should be removed and replaced regularly. It sounds obvious but this will keep your crickets alive much longer.

Place all food in a shallow container in the bottom of the cage. If their nutritional requirements aren't met, they have been known to prey upon each other. Whichever food high in the nutrients that you want to get to your reptile via the crickets, feed about 24 hours before so that the crickets will have absorbed the nutrients.

Water is often a problem area in the container. Provided the vegetables and fruits have enough moisture you may not even need to have water. Too often will you see crickets drown when trying to drink from a dish, and dirty water is usually the cause of the cricket's odour. An easy way to prevent drowning is to fill a small, shallow container with water, then fit a sponge or cotton balls tightly inside of it so that the crickets will not drown. There are also new products available which are water in a jelly form. To date, no long-term affects have been observed from using one of these products.

Christina has always been interested in animals, but at nine years old discovered reptiles and amphibians to be the most intriguing. For her tenth birthday she received two Gekko ulikovvski, or golden geckos. Since then, she has moved her way around the reptile and amphibian kingdoms, now owning seven herps. Currently studying animal health (veterinary) technology at Vanier College, she is alsoin the process of writing a detailed book about the care of leopard geckos.

Pro Line Quick Connect Kit

An Interesting Dilemma

This question was sent to me recently by a friend. I answered her as below (with minor edits). I think this is an issue that will continue to raise itself and one that will concern herp owners for some time to come. I would be interested in hearing your comments on this subject. Drop us a line and let others know what you think.

I have succumbed to my impulses recently and acquired an ornate flying snake from the area of Indonesia. A local distributor had it available for a good price and I just "had to" have it. It is something I have wanted since the first time I learned about them from the nature shows on T.V. I have been feeling just awful about it as it is wild caught and I did not purchase it with specific research needs in mind or to study it's captive breeding needs or something useful... Instead, I just plain wanted it for its "cool" factor. It's just a really neat snake! I am having trouble coming to terms with this impulsive purchase and am not sure what to do about it. Part of me wants to keep it just because I like it and it's something new and exciting. Part of me thinks I should create a reason to keep it, like I want to breed them so there would be a captive-bred supply of them to protect the wild specimens from being de-populated, and part of me thinks I should donate him to an honorable public organization for education & display, but I just can't decide what to do! Any thoughts?

That snake is a really interesting animal. It's a hard question, the one you ask. On the one hand I envy the freedom to be able to get whatever you want. I think in theory that should allow for a lot of animals to be bred and continue the species, but you're right. Countries like Indonesia and the surrounding South-East Asian countries, African and South American often decimate their local populations to feed hungry markets across the world. I would like to see the US regulate its imports a bit more but that is such a huge job.

The poorer countries cannot do it for the most part. Australia is a relatively wealthy nation, yet even it has difficulties preventing smuggling. Some of those other countries must just about give up or re-prioritise as they have more important things to attend to and allocate scarce resources towards. I'm not sure how one tells whether it's even a legal wild caught animal but I know there are regulations in place to try and prevent that.

I honestly don't know what to tell you. I know we all keep them for exactly the same reason you bought it. In an odd way we are all as guilty but people have been doing it for as long as we could. Where does the buck stop? If you didn't buy it someone else would. If no one bought wild caught animals that would stop the trade, but that's not going to happen quickly, nor without educating people about the need to buy bred animals and intervention from government.

Equally, how can animals be bred if there are no domestic populations from which to breed? They need to come from somewhere to begin with. There also needs to be a suitably sized DNA pool from which to develop a breeding program that will not lead to genetically deficient and in-bred populations.

As an example, perhaps Australia should begin and develop a regulated export program. There is a demand for Australian herps and as long as they only exported captive bred animals there could be a thriving, lucrative and carefully managed trade.

Maybe many of the developing countries could actually benefit and realise better prices for their animals and better care for the animals in transit. Maybe they could develop markets and internal breeding programs that would help the local population and protect the wild caught populations.

I understand how your conscience is being eaten up with this. Mine would be annoying me too. I sometimes even question the keeping of captive bred animals.

I think donating the snake to an educational institution is fine but it would need to be one that wanted it for research an educational program. I'm of the mind that says you may as well keep it and care for it. It would probably have just as good, if not a better life that way. Maybe you will find another one. Who knows these things? Some things just happen for a reason (and I'm not even superstitious or religious). Maybe you'll find a breeder who is looking for one. Who would you give it to, if you did give it away and how would that be better?

Frequently Asked Questions - Runny Poop

Over the last couple days I have noticed the skin on my ball python getting a bit milky looking, now her eyes are hazing over. I know this means time to shed. My question is, how long does the whole process take? And, when and if I should worry about providing increased humidity or anything like that.

You're right, it sounds like it's shedding time. The length of the entire process can vary, and another problem in counting the exact number of days is that the starting point is subjective. (At what point do you start counting?) Since this animal is new to you, it had probably started the cycle a couple days before you noticed it. After more experience with this snake, you'll see it coming sooner. Basically, the short answer is that it takes a week to two weeks. Extra humidity during the entire shedding cycle can be very beneficial (even necessary), but I can't comment specifically on your setup since I don't know what conditions you are currently providing to your snake. Offering a shedding box may be a good idea since you don't know for sure what this particular animal's needs are yet.

You can use the experience of each shed to determine what your snake needs, and then you can attempt to provide better environmental conditions the next time it becomes "opaque". After a couple of cycles, you'll know what conditions this animal requires to ensure a trouble-free shed. Also, in case you don't know, you should refrain from handling and feeding this snake until the shed is complete.

buy supplies 

A Little Story


Not long ago, I became the proud mum of a beautiful Murray Darling Carpet Snake. I named her Karma. And she was the friendliest, happiest most affectionate little thing, nothing would faze her.

Murray Darling carpet

Then I had my horror month....... I was holding her in my hands when the boyfriend unexpectedly broke off our relationship... no prior warning.... this led to looking for a place to live, financial woes, motorcycle accidents (I had two in two weeks), the bank "accidentally" losing my entire pay.... so on and so forth..... everything that could go wrong? Yep you guessed it....
Karma got out of her cage, and has not been seen since. That was 6 weeks ago. She's only just had her first feed. Of course I thought it quite ironic that her name was Karma.

Anyhow, for the first time in my life, I have been taking every negative, and trying to make something good come off it. I feel good, but I miss Karma dreadfully.

Last night, a friend came over with a 4 month old coastal carpet and gave him to me, saying, that you can lose everything except your baby. I have named this Snake Alex, and he is a happy, hyperactive, though shy baby.

I had a new cage, in the hope I would find Karma, that had locks and everything, and I have put Alex there.... only Alex, seems too big for this cage... so its time to make one.... me with no tools, no skills, and no idea...... so I will really be putting the reptile cage plans to the test....

Meanwhile, I still search and hope that Karma is still out there.....

From a rreader - I just liked this little tale....Ed.

In the News
Tell Us What You Think!

If you have a story about one of your critters, funny or serious, found a great web site, found a great article or would like to contribute in any way, please contact me. I'm friendly, don't bite and would welcome your contributions.

And of course, if you have any suggestions for upcoming issues that you'd like to share with us, please send those too!

These could include:
- Great herp web-sites
- A fantastic herp article you know of that should be shared
- Why you pet reptile is fantastic
- A great idea you had
- Funny things that happened
- Dumb**s things that happened
- Images you'd like to share
- Care sheets for your herp

Remember - there are lots of people who would love to hear your stories. Just e-mail me at: Reptile-Cage-Plans

buy supplies 

Tell Us What You Think!!

Thanks to those who have given me feedback. I always want to
know of your achievements, good and bad.

I've just added a section on making cages waterproof. There
are a number of ways to do this and I have covered some of
those options.

I have also added "How to Make a Reptile Cage Stand in Five
Easy Steps" to the bonuses. Those of you have purchased the plans
are welcome to download it. It is about 25 pages and has detailed
steps. It is aimed people who have not made something like that
before. There is a picture on the website of what a finished
stand would look like.

I am currently finalising a book on making glass vivariums
and should have that available within a month or so.

I have also some plans for a 3'x3'x18'' display type cabinet
with side doors. This should also be available within a month
or two.

Thank you to those people who continue to give me feedback
and help others in their endeavours. You know who you are
so well done!!

I have a few ideas for some other additions to the book and
perhaps some other publications but I would love your input.

These could include:

  • Great herp web-sites
  • Why you pet reptile is fantastic
  • Funny things that happened
  • Dumb**s things that happened
  • Images you'd like to share.

Remember - there are lots of people who would love to hear your stories. Just e-mail me at: Reptile-Cage-Plans

buy supplies 




Sign up today for our FREE fortnightly "Keeping Reptiles" Newsletter.

  • Jam-packed with ideas and tips
  • Stories and information on keeping reptiles.
  • Ideas for cages
  • Keep informed and learn about reptile keeping.
  • Web-sites and places of interest.

Sign up now and I'll send you a bonus FREE gift of "15 Top Snake Keeping Tips"
(Value of $16.95)

First Name:

Last Name:

E-mail Address: