Many reptiles and amphibians
have a variety of insects in their diet. Crickets are fairly
cheap to from shops and mail order, however locusts are
more expensive sometimes costing from 30p per adult. In
the short term the set up will cost you a few pounds to
build, and to establish a breeding colony. You will soon
be able to recoup your cost and may be make a profit by
selling surplus stock on to a few friends.
The basic set up can be
used for both crickets and locusts, although locust will
require a larger set up. I would recommend two or three
( explained later) well sealed wooden or glass vivariums
of 90- 120 cm x 40 x 60, with good ventilation. It should
have a light bulb suspended from the roof or sidewall to
provide heat and light. For faster reproduction cycles
temperatures of 85-90°F is recommended. If the bulb
on its own does not achieve this then the addition of a
heat mat on the outside of the tank may raise the temperature.
Do not put in on the inside a locust can nibble at it.
The vivarium should have
lots of branches for the insects to climb on. The more
branches the greater the surface area and the more insects
you can keep.For substrate Newspaper is effective, cheap
and easily replaceable. For food any green leafy vegetables
can be used, but make sure they are thoroughly rinsed,
as any residues of pesticides can wipe out an entire colony.
Alternatively wheat can be germinated on damp tissue or
newspaper and allowed to grow to about 10cm then placed
in the viv. This is quite a good source of protein and
vitamins too. Water can be provided by placing damp cotton
wool in a plant saucer. However most locusts appear to
obtain adequate moisture from the leafy greens. Do not
put a bowl of water in. These insects are very stupid and
will fall into the water, and as they breathe through the
spiracles on the side of the body they will often drown.
To establish a breeding
colony of locusts it is better to by sub adult or large
hopper size insects rather than adults. This is because
you know that there is life in the younger animals, but
the adults may be just days away from death. Buy at least
30 insects to give a good stock, as accidents do happen
and it allows a good bloodstock and mix of sexes.
Laying boxes can be 1 -
2 litre ice cream tubs, filled with damp sand; bird or
play sand is best. These dry out very quickly due to the
raised temperature and will need regular spraying. You
will notice that when the locusts become mature wholes
will appear in the sand. This is where the female has bee
mated and used her ovipositor to implant the eggs into
the sand. Keep the box in the viv until the surface is
peppered with holes, and then remove them to a second vivarium
to allow them to hatch. This can take a week to a month
depending on temperature but if kept at the adult temperature
ten days is average. They take up to 7 weeks to mature.
Having three tanks you
will have one with breeding adults, who once laid should
be fed or sold on as food, one with hoppers and one with
eggs, and so the rotation continues.