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
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
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
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 together.
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
If later you
Then hold your
Crickets are 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.