Crickets are nutritious feeder insects that almost everyone desires to breed for their pets and other commercial purposes. Practically every breeder knows that these feeder insects need substrates and other care to ensure a running colony. However, most breeders do not find the best cricket substrates leading to unsuccessful breeding. Luckily, finding the best cricket substrate isn’t that hard as shall be seen below.
The best cricket substrates include vermiculite, sand, paper towels, bark, pine shavings, bare bottom, egg crates, newspapers, moss, and coconut fiber. Go for a substrate that controls the moisture, provides hiding places, and comfort, and needs less cleaning. Change the substrate at least weekly.
When setting up a cricket habitat, provide various facilities such as a suitable substrate, food, and playing items such as empty toilet paper tubes.
What is Cricket Substrate?
A cricket substrate is bedding or material used on the floor of crickets’ houses. It is ideal for any cricket house to have substrate as it helps crickets comfortably walk on, poop on well, and lay eggs.
Also, crickets may start producing an unpleasant odor if the crate is poorly ventilated or when they are congested. That’s why crickets need substrates. Always consider choosing the best cricket substrate as it will affect the efficiency of its purpose.
Among other purposes of a cricket substrate are:
- Moisture retention.
- Maintaining humidity levels.
- Provides hiding space and a place to lay eggs.
- Offers more comfort to crickets on plastic or glass surface.
- Minimizes cleaning tasks for the crickets.
A good cricket substrate is essential for the growth and development of your cricket farm.
Best Cricket Substrates
Here are 10 well-selected effective substrates any cricket breeder can use for their crickets:
Vermiculite is a hydrous phyllosilicate mineral that expands significantly when exposed to heat. It’s also known for its high absorbent ability. This high absorbent ability makes it the best cricket substrate.
Its dryness is helpful as it prevents bacteria caused by rotting food, dead crickets, and cricket poop. Notably, it has neutralizing ability to remove any odor left behind by crickets. Since fragrances are mainly from the accumulation of cricket poop, ensure you always keep track of them.
Crickets are known to enjoy a semi-humid environment and vermiculite easily maintains a balance of non-dry and non-moist conditions, making it a perfect substrate among the options. Crickets are not harmful unless let loose and, in their habitat, they shouldn’t be harmed by the substrate either.
Placing a layer of between 1 to 3 inches of vermiculite gives crickets comfortable bedding to walk on. Large colonies require this substrate to be replaced at least once in 6 months. Researchers have proved high-quality vermiculite to control the odor of up to 2000 crickets without causing any harm to them.
2. Coconut Fiber
Also known as coir, coconut fiber is a natural substrate of ground-up coconut fibers sold as a compressed brick. When placed in water, coir reacts well. They expand when placed in water and become an excellent substrate for your crickets. It is a renewable resource that does not need to be replaced often if you clean it periodically.
When wet, these fibers offer excellent air circulation and water absorption. It also has antifungal properties that are advantageous to cricket crates where loads of bacteria grow.
This substrate can be mixed with other substrates such as sand, moss, or pine shavings to form a perfect blend for your colony of crickets. Coconut fibers can spoil when left wet for an extended period of time. Therefore, ensure regular checks to the dampness of the area. That will enhance the successful reproduction of your crickets.
Various types of moss substrates are available at your reliable garden and pet stores. Sphagnum, also known as peat moss, is a common type of moss substrate that comprises up to 380 species. It has excellent water retention ability and is sold as bales or bricks.
Other types of moss are not reliable water absorbents and are primarily used for decorations. Ensure you have adequate information about the moss substrate you want to purchase before committing.
It is preferably the best moss substrate if you come across Sphagnum moss. You can use one cup of moss to spread at the bottom of the cricket enclosure. Most suitably, always place the substrate on top or under the egg crates to allow crickets to burrow their eggs during the breeding season. Since this substrate has a high water absorbency rate, always be aware of high humidity conditions when dealing with it, as crickets react worse with such environments.
Sand is a pale yellowish-brown color substance made of loose granules. It can be used as a substrate when alone or when blended with other substrates such as moss, coconut fiber, soil, or vermiculite to help them be firm enough.
Some people use sand that seems to work well with crickets. When using a sand substrate, always ensure you clean the crate every week to remove any debris or poop to minimize odor build-up.
Newspaper is an easy substrate to set up and access. You can get some at your local supermarket or recycling center for free or at a lower price. It is advisable to shred or crumple the newspaper substrate to increase the surface area for the crickets to hop around.
It would be best if you cleaned the newspaper substrates regularly to remove unwanted bacteria that may pose significant risks to you and your crickets. Always place the substrate on the floor of the cricket crate to ensure it does not accumulate dampness.
Excess dampness can make the newspaper heavy and soggy. Also, when placed incorrectly on the floor, the newspaper may suffocate or bury your crickets.
6. Paper Towels
Paper towels are a good substrate option for anyone with a low budget. They are precisely easy to set up as they require only to be crumpled and kept at the bottom of the floor. They are challenging to change, but crickets love munching on them.
Paper towels can be mixed with moss substrate but always ensure to check the humidity levels in the crate regularly. Also, paper towels need to be changed periodically since they have low density. If not changed regularly, they can become a breeding site for bacteria and kill crickets. If not daily, you need to change this substrate weekly, depending on the number of your crickets, to keep them happy.
Bark substrates are made up of a mixture of tree bark and a high-water retaining material. It is commonly mixed with coconut fiber, peat moss, and perlite materials. Among cricket owners, fur bark is the most common substrate. Recently, it was a natural substrate option for certain types of animals.
Firm bark is also referred to as orchid bark since it enables orchids to bloom, appears genuine, and has a high retaining humidity ability to your cricket enclosure. It is well known to decrease odor and requires to be changed a few times annually. Always ensure you dry out the bark slightly before pouring it into the cricket enclosure.
Since crickets are edible even by some vegans, using natural bark helps in ensuring the crickets aren’t exposed to chemicals which may harm the final consumer.
8. Pine Shavings
Pine shavings are an excellent substrate for crickets as they has a unique natural scent and excellent absorption. The scented substrate leaves the enclosure with a fresh smell that minimizes the growth of fungus, mold, bacteria, and cricket poop.
This substrate is perfect since it does not emit dust when poured into the enclosure and it is easy to clean. Shredded aspen substrate is an alternative for your cricket’s needs. Also, throw in some egg crates to create more space and make crickets enjoy the habitat.
9. Egg Crates
Egg crates are a well-known suitable substrate for crickets. Their three-dimensional structure provides a hide-out for crickets during breeding and forms their habitat. They are necessary for the cricket’s enclosure since they prevent congestion that may lead to crickets eating each other. Therefore, this substrate should be used in various areas of the cricket house to increase the surface area for crickets.
10. Plain Bottom
Some cricket owners prefer not to use any substrate since plain bottom is a perfect substrate for crickets. Some recommend using complex substrates during breeding time, such as vermiculite, coconut fibers, and cardboard egg crates.
It can be pretty challenging to use plain bottom since crickets’ waste dry and harden on the ground of the surface enclosure, making cleaning demanding.
Here are the best crickets care tips you should know:
- Use high protein food sources for your crickets.
- Maintain a temperature of between 70 degrees Fahrenheit (for large crickets) and 90 degrees Fahrenheit (for small crickets).
- Provide fresh water for crickets to cut off odor and enhance a growth environment.
- Always keep the enclosure tidy.
- Provide a hiding place for your crickets to hide and breed.
These should create a healthy cricket habitat to ensure a healthy colony. Since many pets including cats eat crickets, proper care ensures healthy crickets.
Crickets are nutritious feeder insects for your reptile pets. Therefore, they should be given good care and attention to ensure a long-running colony. Cricket substrates are ideal for running the territory to supply endless feeds for our pets.
With the various cricket substrates discussed above and good care practices for the feeder insect, you can easily choose the suitable substrate for your crickets depending on their availability and budget. Also, you will be able to manage your colony effectively. Now, get started in the successful management of your cricket colony.
University of Florida. House Cricket.
University of California. The effect of substrate on prey capture does not match natural substrate use in a wolf spider.
University of Illinois. Neurotheology: Fly Hearing.