Cricket Paralysis Virus!?!

So recently I bought some crickets from Petco. My area has no other reptile or pet company around that I can buy crickets from, so Petco is my only option. This batch of crickets really worried me though, they were dying rapidly and appeared to be having seizures. I found four dead, and six twitching on their backs in two days. They were on their back, like they normally do when about to die, but they were twitching. I tried to lift them back on their legs, but they hobbled and twitched (similar to trying to relearn how to walk) and then they all would flop back onto their backs. They only rapidly died from there, and I decided not to feed them to my veiled cham. Normally I have some die from overcrowding (there isn't a lot of air flow for them), but this was strange. I released them all into the wild and did some research. The biggest thing I saw was the possibility of cricket paralysis virus. Though the virus is said to have no real symptoms. I'm at a loss, and I am unsure of what to do from here. I plan to call Petco and tell them about my situation, but until then: What is this that is happening to these crickets? Are they still safe for my chameleon? What should I do if this happens again? (Is it common?):confused:


Chameleon Enthusiast
Yup odds are its the virus. It kills them all off within a week. Odds are petco gets their crickets from multiple sources, and you got the cross contaminated ones.
Good news is it wont hurt the cham even if you feed them the dying ones.
I would look into switching to banded or Jamaican crickets, since they are immune. Im not even sure how to sterilize the tubs once the virus strikes. When it hits a cricket farm its game over for that section of the plant or even the entire plant, till the end of time. There is a reason why it knocked out 90% of the population inside of year.
Hmmmmm.... I guess I'll contact the Petco and let them know of this issue I had. I can try to look into online ordering some different cricket breeds, but nowhere around my home sells them. The only pet place for miles around is Petco, so I'll figure something out. Thanks for your input though, at least she can still eat them for the future. Do you know if my cage is now contaminated? If so, how should I approach cleaning it?


Chameleon Enthusiast
I would buy your crickets in bulk, do you just have one chameleon? I think you should buy something around 200-500 for one. Depending on how old it is. Buy a rubbermaid bin and make an enclosure for them in it, and it will keep them healthy and happy. Just provide lots of air flow and there shouldn't be much issue with smell if you clean it every week or so, and there shouldn't be as many die offs. I don't buy crickets online because I feed crickets as purely an enrichment feeder. I buy maybe 16-18 once a week and feed them to my panther. Otherwise my main diet is roaches. Maybe someone else can chime in for a good place.
Hahaha, yeah that's too many. But I'll check it out anyway, thank you!!! :D If anybody knows if my cage for them is contaminated now, is it still usable?
Thank you!! I'll try this. I contacted Petco by the way, and the guy I talked to was a new employee, but has multiple reptiles and has shopped there for years without this problem. Before my strange incident with crickets, I had never heard of the Cricket Paralysis Virus, and neither had he. But he said he's never experienced anything like that at this Petco location. So, as he said to do, if this happens again I will bring the crickets relaying this strange behavior with a receipt and something will be done about it.
Did you have any fruits or vegetablesomething in the container that could have molded? Lots of fungi produce many toxins and it could have caused neurological symptoms.
If you had any fruits and vegetables that weren't bad, it could have been pesticides.
Also any cleaners left over if you happened to clean their cages out, or something you use could have gotten into your tank.
You did the best thing releasing them because if it was a toxin, your Cham would have ingested it. Crickets are small but if it eats a bunch of them the agent would build up in his body and cause damage.

I'm not sure it's a virus because it seems they all got sick at once. Granted one cricket could have had it, died, and then been consumed.

That said, what nightanole suggested is standard accepted procedures for sterilization.
Yeah, I thought it could be pesticides too, I have another batch of crickets from petco. Nothing moldy in there, and the last time I cleaned the tank it was only with soap and water. Thanks for the info! If nothing goes wrong with this batch, I'm just going to assume that the issue was that I received an old batch of crickets with failing nervous systems.


New Member
This is interesting because I too bought some crickets at petco and had the same issue this past week but oddly enough I went back 2 days ago and got more and these seem much healthier and aren't dying off like the last ones ... Not totally sure what the deal is but I would say if it keeps happening then definitely get them somewhere else - it doesn't happen too often to me though where way too many die way too soon
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