Though a pet cricket might seem a tad unorthodox, these insects have been kept as pets since the ancient Chinese period. During the Tang Dynasty, crickets were caught and kept in special containers so their “songs” could be forever captured. Today, some choose to keep crickets as low-maintenance, non-aggressive pets and greatly enjoy raising them, but, sure enough, they won’t be everyone’s cup of tea.
In this post, we’ll explore some of the pros and cons of companion crickets and share some important information about caring for these rather surprising critters.
Why Keep a Pet Cricket?
There are many positives to keeping pet crickets for the young and old alike. Let’s explore these further.
Cricket-Keeping May Benefit the Elderly
In 2015, a study was conducted by South Korean researchers into whether or not keeping pet insects could positively impact the psychological health of elderly people1. Crickets were the insects used in the study.
The conclusion part of the study details how caring for insects “was associated with a small to medium positive effect on depression and cognitive function in community-dwelling elderly people.” The study also described cricket-keeping as “safe” and “cost-effective”.
They’re Great Pets for Kids
If your kid has been begging for a cat, dog, or rabbit, but you’re not sure they’re ready for the commitment, a pet cricket could be a cheaper and lower-maintenance option to start with. Crickets are safe insects and don’t bite, which makes them good to handle and means cleaning their environment and feeding them won’t be risky at all—just don’t forget to wash your hands!
Moreover, they aren’t very difficult to care for and require only a very basic setup habitat-wise, but they still have certain needs, which is why they may be perfect for giving kids a sense of responsibility.
They Sound Lovely
While some find it keeps them awake, some people find the sound of a cricket really soothing at night. Fun fact—only male crickets “sing” (chirp), and they do it to attract females.
Cons of Keeping Crickets & Things You Should Know
There are far more pros to keeping crickets as pets than there are cons, but, of course, there are a few factors that might put some off. One of these factors is that crickets don’t live very long—up to about 90 days.
Moreover, crickets may eat one another if they don’t get fed well enough, so be sure they get at least a bit of protein in the form of a bit of chicken, tofu, or a dog biscuit. You can also give them store-bought cricket food.
Another con is that they can be hard for kids to catch, as they do tend to move quite quickly. This makes them quite adept escape artists, so be sure your cricket’s habitat is ventilated but not with holes so big that they allow them to escape.
What Kind of Habitat Do Crickets Need?
Crickets don’t need a whole lot to be happy. You can make a home for them out of a plastic or glass container, or you can buy a plastic or glass insect enclosure—anything with a lid (a mesh lid is a good choice), that’s ventilated, and that has enough space for them to move around and explore freely. The ideal temperature for crickets is around 86 degrees Fahrenheit.
The bottom of the habitat can be covered in paper towels (for easy cleaning), but place a container of sand or soil inside, too. Wet the sand if you want your crickets to breed. You can change the paper easily every few days. Decorate the enclosure with rocks, leaves, and some bark to give the crickets that familiar feeling. Toilet rolls are great for offering the crickets somewhere to hide whenever they need to.
Provide a small water bowl but be careful because crickets can easily drown. The cap of a bottle could be a good choice for a water bowl, as it’s small and shallow enough for the cricket to not drown in.
Crickets can eat store-bought cricket food, fish food, bits of fruit, vegetables, oats, and cereals, and will also need a bit of protein like a dog biscuit. If you feed fruit or vegetables, wash them first to make sure there are no insecticides on them. On a final note, don’t forget to wash your hands after interacting with your crickets or cleaning their enclosure.
As to the question of whether or not crickets make good pets, the answer is yes, if you like crickets and want an easy-to-care-for, non-aggressive pet. They’re not the best at giving cuddles or sitting nicely in your lap, but they’re pretty interesting in their own way. So, if insects are your thing, why not?
Featured Image Credit: Dr Morley Read, Shutterstock