Raising Feeder Crickets For Your Geckos
Published 20th February 2007
If you want to keep a fresh and continuous supply of food on hand for your pet you may want to consider raising your own. Not only is it cheaper to raise your own food, it will give you a better sense of satisfaction and involvement with your pet.
Geckos are insectivores. The most commonly used food source for geckos are crickets and mealworms. Waxworms can be given as an occasional treat, but, as they have a very high fat content, they aren't recommended to be given as a regular diet. Older geckos can even be given a small mouse from time to time as a special treat.
Try to follow a regular schedule with your feeding. Early evening is the best time as geckos are naturally nocturnal animals. If you feed your gecko on a regular schedule it will quickly learn when it is feeding time and will often come out of their hiding places expecting a meal. Feed your gecko as many crickets or mealworms as they will eat at one time. When first starting out give it a few at a time to learn how much it will eat. If there are any insects remaining after your gecko has finished eating remove them and put them back into their cage for later feedings.
Leopard geckos also need a good supply of calcium. Calcium powder may be purchased at your local pet store or online. You may dust the crickets or mealworms with the powder or put it into a shallow dish; the gecko will actually lick the powder directly from the dish.
There are many advantages to growing your own crickets. Raising your own crickets can be cheaper, more convenient, and will allow you to gut load the crickets before they are fed to your gecko. Gut loading refers to feeding the crickets nutritious foods that will, in turn, be provided to your lizard when it feeds on them.
Cricket food, as well as products made specifically for gut loading, can be purchased pre-packaged, but you can get by much cheaper by feeding your crickets things you probably already have in the house. Good sources of nutrition for the crickets are things like mustard greens, potatoes (the peelings that you would normally throw away are great for cricket food), sweet potatoes, carrots, apples, and other fruits and vegetables. You may also feed them tropical fish food or dry cat food. Offer the crickets a variety of food and sprinkle it with a light dusting of a good reptile calcium and vitamin supplement.
A water source can be provided using a small container such as a jelly jar lid. It is also recommended that you spray the interior of the aquarium with a spray mister occasionally to help keep the humidity up.
Crickets are really easy to breed and raise once you get them set up. A ten gallon aquarium can make a perfect habitat for your cricket colony. Be sure to get a good, tight fitting, screen or lid for the tank to keep them from escaping. To provide the female crickets with places to lay their eggs put about one inch of potting soil or sand in the bottom of the aquarium. You will want to give the crickets hiding places. Pieces of tree bark are perfect for this, but you may use whatever is handy.
Temperature is the one most important factor to consider when raising your crickets. A small "hot rock" will provide sufficient heating for the cricket colony. It is a good idea to lay long thin sticks across the hot rock to give the crickets places to cling to. Keep in mind that the crickets will have a tendency to climb the power cord of the hot rock and gather at the bottom of the lid or screen, one way to avoid this is to lubricate that section of the cord with Vaseline.
You can see that raising your own crickets for your gecko is quite easy and it will provide both you and your pet with many benefits.