Why would you care about raising feeder insects? Well, if only you have a pet dog, feeding would have been easy breezy: you buy loads of dog food; pour some on your doggie’s bowl, and ‘bon appétit’ doggie. But, no… you had to choose an insect-feeding bird, fish, frog, and reptile as pets. So now you need to care about natural pet food like feeder insects.
Why Raise Your Own Natural Pet Food
Although you can just log onto the Web and order an entree of juicy, crawling bugs for your exotic insect-feeding pet, there are a lot of reasons you need to consider raising your own feeder insects. First, you can only be certain about getting the freshest, liveliest feeder insects if you raise them yourself. Second, you’ll save money (even make some on the side) raising your own feeder insects. And third, raising natural pet food such as insects is not difficult.
Popular Insect Species as Natural Pet Food
Before you scurry to the nearest pet supply store to get your first stock of feeder insects, do you know what species to get? If not, then here are two popular and easy to raise feeder insects to start:
Raising Crickets as Natural Pet Food
Crickets are relatively easy to breed. With room temperature and proper feeding, crickets grow and multiply pretty fast. Here are the things you need:
1. Sweatbox – A large plastic sweater box with holes poked on the cover and on the sides is best to house crickets.
2. Sand - Place fine sand as substrate, which should be kept damp always by misting water.
3. Hiding place – Crickets don’t like to be exposed. So you need old egg carton, paper towel and toilet paper roll insert, and even old milk carton with one side opened so serve as hiding place.
4. Waterer - Put a sponge on a very shallow water dish to serve as waterer for the cricket colony.
5. Food - Dry dog food, leftover bread, dried egg powder, skim milk, and vitamins and minerals supplement mixed together in a blender is good. When feeding, add a little water to the mix enough to form a pâté.
6. Nesting material - Place 2-3 inches of peat moss or turf in a plastic container and place the container inside the sweater box to serve as nesting material. Always make sure to dampen the nesting material by misting it with clear water.
Anywhere from 200-250 adult crickets is a good number to start. After a couple of weeks, transfer the nesting material into a new sweater box to allow the eggs to incubate and hatch into baby crickets. Replace the nesting material with new peat moss or turf and place it back into the sweater box. Always have clean water and top up the feeder once you see that all foods have been eaten.
Raising Springtails as Natural Pet Food
Another easy to raise natural pet food is springtails. Springtails are very good to feed your insect-eating aquarium fish and water-borne frogs as they float on water tempting your pet’s appetite.
To raise your own springtails, get an old 20 gallon tank, large pickling jar, or even old plastic sweater box to house the insect. Before buying your initial springtail stock, prepare the substrate to mold first to have food ready for the insects. Springtails eat the molds that grow in the substrate. Here’s what you can do:
1. Place about 2 inches of peat moss in the container constantly misting it with water. Be sure the substrate is wet but not dripping: use only distilled water to avoid contaminating the substrate.
2. Sprinkle flake fish food onto the substrate misting it with distilled water.
3. After a week, remove the lid and place another layer of flake fish food and moisten it with distilled water before placing back the lid.
4. Once you see fuzzy white fungus growing on the substrate, you’re ready to place your initial spring tail stock.
5. Continue placing a layer of flake fish food to provide constant food for the fungus, which itself provides food for the thriving springtails colony inside.
If you follow these simple ways to grow your own natural pet food stock, you’ll not only have fresh feeder insects for your pets, you can make money selling them to other insect-feeding pet owners too.