Lots of animals enjoy the crunch of crickets, but amphibians and reptiles in particular feast on them as a staple in captivity. A diet of crickets is healthy, but the insects lack calcium that amphibians and reptiles need. Dusting the crickets with calcium solves that problem.
Many reptiles and amphibians that chow down on crickets need a calcium supplement to keep their bones strong, promote bone growth in youngsters and prevent certain bone diseases. Since stuffing a calcium pill down a bearded dragon's throat or persuading a pacman frog to open wide isn't in the cards, dusting crickets with calcium powder is your best choice to keep your pet healthy.
Types of Calcium
Calcium powder comes without vitamin D3 or without it. Vitamin D3 helps your pet make use of the calcium you give him. Amphibians typically need calcium with vitamin D3 occasionally -- typically once or twice weekly -- but not every feeding. Tetrapod bodies produce vitamin D3 when subject to ultraviolet rays. Reptiles who bask under ultraviolet lights are thus at the center of arguments among hobbyists and medical professionals as to whether supplemental vitamin D3 is necessary. Some people believe providing oral vitamin D3 can cause a vitamin D3 overdose, while others believe occasionally dusting your pet's food with calcium that includes vitamin D3 is vital. To avoid health problems and false information, talk to your vet about the issue. He can give you his professional opinion and reason for his decision.
While you can brush calcium powder over your crickets, it's a whole lot easier to dump some of the powder into a sandwich bag. A little powder goes a long way. The crickets don't need to be caked in powder, just dusted. Grab only a fraction of the crickets you plan on feeding your pal and drop them in the bag. Give the bag a gentle shake so a dusting of calcium powder covers the crickets.
Once the crickets have a nice dusting of calcium sticking to them, plop them into your pet's enclosure one at a time. Once he finishes those crickets off, grab more and dust those. Repeat until he finishes off his recommended portion of crickets. Never dump the crickets in or try to dust your pet's entire portion of crickets at once. The former will result in a bunch of powder falling into the enclosure. The latter will result in crickets who jump around so much before your pet eats them that their coatings of calcium fall off. Always research, or better yet, ask your vet, how many crickets your pet needs, how often he needs them and the frequency in which he needs them dusted. Every species is different.
Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.