Acquired: Pet store
Posted May 01, 2014
When my daughter first wanted bearded dragons, we knew that we would be required to feed them some kind of insect. After a vast search of our local pet stores, we discovered that we could only purchase silk worms and crickets on a regular basis. That being said, silk worms cost twice as much and the stores ran out of them often, so on a typical week, we were buying 20-30 crickets.
I hated crickets for all the reasons that you’d expect and more. The first is they just looked creepy to me. We had little clear bags filled with crickets and air and they’d just jump around and look awful until we got home. Then we’d have to be careful about releasing them into the cricket keeper because, if one got out (and one always did), it would hide behind the TV and chirp loudly enough that we couldn’t hear the show we were watching. Luckily, these suckers can only live about 6 weeks. Unfortunately, as soon as that one would stop chirping, another would find its way out of the keeper and the process would repeat itself.
Then there was the issue of the smell. I don’t have a good word for the putrid stench that always accompanied the cricket cage. We didn’t keep more than a week’s worth at a time, but when it was time to buy more, there was a cage full of cricket feces, exoskeletons, and antennae. It smelled awful. By the time we decided to find a new food source, we purchased one of the cricket keepers with tubes that would allow the crickets to crawl out on their own, put it at the bottom of the beardies’ cage, and left it there. The result was that our beardies would eat their entire weeks’ “allowance” in about 2 days and then go hungry. We checked with our reptile guys and they said that wasn’t such a big deal.
There wasn’t anything as bad as the smell, but a close second was the difficulty in feeding and keeping them alive. We’d purchase small to medium-sized crickets which meant they were still juveniles and should have a couple weeks to live (as demonstrated by Mr. Chirpy), but we could never keep all of them alive because, when crickets get hungry, they cannibalize one another. We had the cool little algae cubes that they were supposed to eat, and we’d put a handful of them in a time. The crickets would eat all of them in less than a day and then kill and eat each other. Sometimes, they’d ignore the food and just go straight to cannibalization. We’d have husks of dead crickets lying next to the dehydrated algae cubes.
Crickets aren’t just violent to each other; they can also bite and harm your pets. One of our beardies got fairly ill, and in trying to get her to eat again, the crickets would start to attack her. By the time we got her eating, we also had to deal with cricket bites on her belly. That was a nightmare.
In the end, we switched to Dubia roaches and were thrilled with them for all the reasons that we hated crickets. I’d never use crickets as feeder insects again!