How Many Calories in a Cricket?

In the middle of the night, a cricket chirps. Amplified by the hardwood floor, the sound resonates like a dentist’s drill in your head. So you get up. slide the dresser away from the wall, and squash the little sleep-breaker with a Kleenex.

But that’s not what a Titi monkey would do. A Titi would eat the cricket. In fact, so fond are Titi monkeys of crickets-an appetite the monkeys share with cone-headed lizards, poison arrow frogs, and soft-billed birds-that the Dallas Zoo is spending almost $13,000 this year to keep them all happily in crickets.

“They arrive by mail, alive in cardboard boxes with screens for air circulation-about a thousand per box,” says Dr. Bonnie Raphael, staff nutritional-cricketologist for the Dallas Zoo. “Some we use right away, some we freeze for bird diets, and we have bins to keep others alive. And we feed them Zeigler Cricket Diet.”

For the novice, Zeigler Crick-et Diet is the Purina Dog Chow for crickets. It seems that the standard-issue cricket is not nutritionally complete. The Zeigler Diet adds calcium, producing a cricket that can serve as a sole food for zoo creatures.

Fluker’s Cricket Farm in Port Allen, Louisiana, won the zoo’s 1987 cricket contract. “We raise Acheta domesticus, which is the house cricket.” says David Fluk-er, son of Richard Fluker, who started cricket fanning in 1960. “They’re not even close to the crickets in the wild.”

The Flukers have ten employees who feed their crickets corn meal and lots of water. And David Fluker is proud that his crickets are good zoo food. “A cricket is 60 percent protein, 35 percent fat, and 5 percent carbohydrate,” he says.

And how many calories are in a cricket? “That’s really off the wall,” says Raphael. “1 don’t know. If I had to guess, I’d say maybe one calorie per small cricket. So ten crickets equal one saltine cracker.”

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