At university, I had pet frogs. I just adored them but I had a side project too. I kept crickets to feed my frogs. The funny thing was that I found keeping crickets just as interesting (perhaps even more so) than frogs. They always appear in a hurry, they make beautiful sounds that put you to sleep at night and they’re really fun to watch. I knew I wanted my children to experience having crickets as pets too.
Why keep crickets as pets?
Crickets make great pets for families, classrooms and even kindergartens. Here’s why:
- They’re readily available in pet shops
- They’re easy to maintain
- These crickets don’t bite you, so it’s perfectly safe for little fingers to do the feeding and cleaning
- You can get hands on by holding them. You just have to be quick!
Keeping crickets will teach you a lot about them. It’s perfect for children who love insects or are learning about minibeast. Here’s what they can learn:
- Generally, only the male crickets chirp. They don’t use their mouth or legs to make the noise but their wings.
- Females have an ovipositor (the long stick-like body part at the end of her abdomen)
- Males have two wings and no ovipositor
- The males chirp to find a mate
- The females lay their eggs in damp dirt by pushing their ovipositor into the dirt. They can lay up to approx. 10 eggs a day.
- Insects have a head, thorax and abdomen and six legs
- Crickets shed their exoskeleton when they need to grow
Where can you buy crickets
Reptiles are becoming very popular as pets, and so pet shops supply containers of crickets (as food) anywhere from $10 – $15. Won’t it feel nice to walk in there and save some crickets from being fed to lizards? Instead they will live out their lives being well fed and taken care of by you!
What you need to keep crickets
- Live crickets
- A plastic enclosure like this works well.
- Two small containers, one for food and one for water (bottle caps are the perfect size)
- Paper towel
- Toilets rolls or objects placed in their enclosure to allow them to hide
- A small container filled with moist dirt or sand (to allow the female to play her eggs)
- Food: vegetables and a dog biscuit (they do need a little bit of meat or they’ll start to eat each other). You can also buy specifically made cricket food from pet shops. They also like fish food too. A varied diet is good for the health of your crickets.
The set up
Put some paper towel on the bottom of the enclosure. This makes it easier to keep the enclosure clean. Just replace the paper towel every 3-4 days. In the enclosure, place the container filled with sand and the objects that will allow the crickets to hide. Make sure the sand stays damp if you want baby crickets one day (see below to learn more about breeding).
Add a wet tissue to the container you’ve got for water. Crickets can drown in water, so it’s best to keep the tissue moist and replace it when it starts to turn brown. Add in their food container too. Now you’re ready. Let your children add the crickets by gently tipping them in.
- Remember to wash your vegetables. Insecticides will kill your crickets.
- Using insecticides around the home can kill your crickets too. Put them outside if you’re spraying chemicals.
- Crickets don’t like extreme cold or extreme heat. Try to keep them in a location with a fairly constant temperature. A heat lamp (you could use your study light) can encourage them to breed.
- You can breed crickets. It’s not as hard as you think. Check out that link. The babies are tiny and very cute.
- Keep them in a dry environment.
- It’s important to remove any dead crickets you find.
- Always get your children to wash their hands after cleaning, feeding and playing with the crickets.
Keeping crickets as pets has been a lot of fun. For the first time though, the girls have been a little more nervous to hold this animal. I’m surprised because they loved holding the mealworms when we had them as pets. Still, they do love watching them and letting me hold them close to their faces so they can have a good look. We’re going to try breeding them next. Fingers crossed I’ll have a few baby photos to show you soon!
Would you keep crickets as pets?