|Crickets have been kept as pets for thousands of years,
especially in Japan and China, because, as God would have it, the males
rub their grooved ridges on the underside of one of their front wings
against the sharp edge of their other front wing, producing a chirping
that's found by many to be a lovely sound.
If you want to keep a cricket as a pet, first you have to get one. Most
garden variety crickets that you could catch yourself will do the
trick: in North America the Acheta assimilis species will be
the most commonly found in the wild. The "house cricket" (Acheta
domesticus) and the "field cricket" (Gryllus bimaculatus)
are also good for singing -- the latter having the prettier song, the
former being the type most commonly sold in pet stores or bait shops.
Whatever the species, you want a boy cricket for the tunes. A girl
cricket will have an ovipositor to lay her eggs with. It will look sort
of like a tail or a phallus, and will be almost as long as her body. In
other words, when you see a female cricket, you'd probably guess her as
a male because of the appendage, so reverse your expectations.
What you Need
A place for
him to lay his weary cricket head
An aquarium with
a fine wire mesh lid will work. So would a jar, but be a hero and give
him some Lebensraum. Put some sand, a few rocks and twigs in there so
he'll be cozy and have a few hidey-holes to relax in. Though he can be
kept at room temperature, he will be more active and sing more if kept
on the warm side -- between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping him
near a small lamp might make him happy, but do keep him out of direct
sunlight. Ideally, there should be about 16 hours of light to 8 hours
of darkness for most kinds of crickets.
Keep a damp
sponge or moistened cotton wool in his cage to serve as a drinking
water source. Be careful about leaving any standing water in their
cages as they have very tiny brains, are not very bright, and can drown
very easily in even the shallowest of water. If you want to leave a
container of water with him, put some marbles or rocks in with the
water so he can drink it without standing in it or possibly falling
into it. Another option is to use the same type of water dispenser that
baby chicks use, filling the bowl with marbles or rocks.
If you use a damp sponge or moistened cotton wool, and if you have any
pregnant females, she will lay her eggs on them (see below). So, if you
are planning on keeping crickets of more than one sex, use the dish and
rock set-up or a chick water dispenser, and provide a wet, damp sponge
just for the female's eggs.
preference for Greek food, crickets will eat anything. They are
omnivorous (though in the wild some species are carnivorous by choice)
and they will even eat each other if they are hungry enough. That last
is too ugly to think about and even uglier to witness, so feed them
well with small bits of carrot, potato, lettuce, apple, other fruits
and vegetables and their peelings (no citrus), rolled oats, pieces of
bread, and/or ground up dried dog food. Remove uneaten food so it won't
rot. If you want to highly please him, you can get actual "cricket
chow" from bait shops and cricket breeders. Even if you use true
"cricket chow," throw him a piece of fruit now and again to keep him
His, er, excretions will be the same size as cricket eggs (if you have
any females), but the former will be black and the latter will be a
creamy-white color. The excrement must be cleaned out of the cage
weekly (or more often if you have a lot of crickets).
If you have more than 1 cricket
and they are different sexes
Like, most any
other red-blooded, American bug, Mr. Cricket may wish to marry. After
he becomes one with his beloved, she will want to lay her eggs on
something damp. Once a female lays her eggs, remove the eggs and place
them in a separate container containing moist soil. Keep the soil and
environment of the egg container moist (but not so moist that the
hatchlings drown; their brains are even tinier than those of their
parents), misting it with water daily. The eggs should hatch in about
three weeks (when exactly depends on the temperature), and the babies
("nymphs") will be very small and white.
After they've grown up a bit and have molted a few times, you can put
them in the first container and let them metaphorically "sit at the big
people's table." Some people have bar-mitzvahs for their crickets at
this time, but others think the idea a tad extravagant. I can assure
you that, in either case, your cricket will be entirely unable to
memorize any Hebrew. The good news, though, is that as long as there's
enough food, the young crickets and adults should get along fine
The lifespan of the most commonly sold cricket in bait shops or pet
stores -- Acheta Domesticus -- is 8 to 10 weeks, which is a
very brief span of time to us, but like millennia to them since one day
is as a year to these creatures, and their deaths at 10 weeks (70 days)
is like a human's death at 70 years. So don't cry too hard when their
time is up; just be grateful to have had such good times together.
Italian Cricket Song
Se tu vo' moglie dillo!
Se poi t'un la voi,
Abbada a' fatti
If you want a
wife say so!
If later you
Then hold your
also known as the "poor man's thermometer." You can determine the exact
temperature by counting the number of chirps a cricket makes during a
15-second interval, then adding 37 to the number to get the correct
temperature in degrees Fahrenheit. If he chirps 40 times in 15 seconds,
the temperature is precisely 77 degrees where the cricket is sitting.