There are many different cricket species being sold today – the brown cricket (Acheta domestica), the Jamaican Field cricket (Gryllus assimilis), and the Banded cricket (Gryllodes sigillatus). Currently the Crazy Reds (Gryllus locorojo) have not been approved by the FDA for shipping across the United States but are legal for purchase in California. So what is the best species of cricket to feed your pet reptile?
Let’s start with the first cricket to arrive on the market and the most common – the brown cricket (Acheta domestica). It was the original cricket that started the cricket farming industry in the 1940’s. Fishermen first began using the brown cricket for fish bait because of the number of bream they could catch when using it. Fish preferred the odor and activity level of the brown cricket to other cricket varieties. As the popularity of the brown cricket grew, zoos started using the brown cricket to feed captive animals as well and the cricket farming industry began.
The brown cricket (Acheta domestica) has 3 primary benefits: it is preferred by reptiles because of its odor and activity level, it has a soft exoskeleton for easy digestion, and it is nutritious. Brown crickets are non-aggressive and unless they are unusually larger than their predator, the brown crickets will not bite. The Acheta domestica moves at a steady pace that is perfect for the reptiles to chase and catch but not too fast. The brown cricket can survive the heat and cold in transit with the proper packing. A virus hit the cricket industry a couple of years ago that affected the Acheta domestica. Many growers could not grow them due to the virus. When fed to reptiles the virus does no harm to the reptile. However, the virus was detrimental to some cricket growers’ supply so they began to introduce new species of crickets into the market.
The Jamaican Field cricket (Gryllus assimilis) became approved by the FDA as a feeder cricket and was popular among cricket growers during the virus outbreak. It grows larger than most feeder crickets and withstands variations in temperatures during shipping better than some of the other crickets. Depending on what it is fed, it is nutritionally equivalent to the Acheta domestica with a slight edge on protein content. The Gryllus assimilis has been reported to be more aggressive and if large enough can put a bite in human hands. This can be due simply to hunger issues, so if used to feed your pet make sure they are properly satisfied before introducing them. The Gryllus assimilis doesn’t seem to be as well liked as a feeder cricket by reptiles as the Acheta domestica but some herps do enjoy them.
The Banded cricket (Gyllodes sigillatus) is the smallest of the three crickets listed here and newest to the market as they have been approved by the FDA only recently. They are very lively and high jumpers, something your pet may enjoy as they give a good chase. Their nutritional content is again, about the same as the others depending on what the Banded cricket has been fed. One drawback of the Banded cricket to growers is that they do not live well during transit because they are more susceptible to cold temperatures. More information as to how reptiles prefer the Banded cricket over other types of crickets will be gathered as they stay around longer in the market.
Armstrong Crickets started with the Brown cricket in 1947. We are one of the few cricket growers who guarantee our specie of crickets to be only the Original Brown Cricket. When purchasing crickets as feeder insects be sure your grower specifies what type of cricket they sell and make sure it is the best for your reptile’s needs.