If you thought rats were nothing more than dirty, smelly, sewer rodents, think again.
They are intelligent and highly social animals, capable of forming close bonds with their caregivers.
It’s no wonder they’re becoming trendy pets.
However, they have complex needs and require lots of care.
So, what can you feed them? Can rats eat crickets? Read on to find out.
Is It Safe To Feed My Rat Crickets?
Yes, you can feed your rat crickets.
Crickets are high in fat and protein; the perfect energy source for your pet rat.
However, you should not excessively feed your rats crickets. Only feed your rat crickets as a treat on a weekly occasion.
Why Should I Feed My Rat Crickets?
Crickets are packed full of nutrients, especially protein.
In fact, one recent study suggests that crickets have a higher protein content than other livestock, such as chicken, pork, and beef.
Crickets are also high in calcium, zinc, and magnesium. These nutrients, in healthy quantities, positively contribute to your rat’s health; from bone strength to hair growth.
Did you Know?
Crickets are known as “complete proteins”. This is because they are thought to contain all 9 essential amino acids needed for mammals. These are the amino acids that mammals must derive from their diet.
Live crickets are an affordable way to treat your rat; especially if they are locally harvested from your own garden! Try looking under leaf piles, rocky areas, or outhouses.
Crickets have more nutrients than any other common animal protein. They are healthy treats for your rat. Source: USDA SR-25 and paper by Rumpold et al, 2013.
However, refrain from using only crickets in your rat’s selection of food. A rat, like us humans, needs a varied and balanced diet, full of fruits, vegetables, fiber, and protein.
Alongside crickets, try feeding your rat greens, leafy vegetables, and legumes.
Live Or Dried Crickets?
Rats can eat both live and dried crickets.
But which one is best to feed your pet rat?
Well, that depends on your specific rat and how old it is.
In the wild, rats are opportunistic omnivores. This means they will eat whatever food source they can get their paws on.
Introducing live cricket to your rat can be a rewarding treat for the pet rodent.
Not only are live crickets a better energy source they also provide enrichment for your pet rat, keeping their brains stimulated. Introducing live prey allows your rat to practice natural hunting instincts.
However, you should extend caution. Crickets can be quite feisty; especially in a life-or-death situation. They have powerful legs and wings especially camel crickets, which they use to leap and fly.
They are also equipped with some fierce mandibles, which can cause some damage if they were to bite your rat.
Carefully monitor your rat’s reaction when introducing live crickets. Some rats will go crazy and immediately pounce on the cricket. Within a flash, the cricket will be greedily gobbled up.
Some rats are more timid when it comes to tackling novel food items.
Here, you should introduce freeze – dried cricket into their diet.
Freeze-dried crickets are readily available at most pet stores. Before purchasing, ensure the crickets are pesticide-free, as pesticides may harm your pet rat.
You can also introduce freeze-dried crickets to the diet of younger pet rats. It would be advisable to grind dried crickets into a powder to introduce them to your rat’s diet.
Remember – as well as a good protein source, crickets are high in fat. Without proper care, your rat can quickly gain weight when on a diet of crickets. Ensure your rat receives plenty of exercise.
Freeze-dried crickets can be bought online or in most pet stores. They are a great treat for your rat (and humans!). Photo credit: Exotic Nutrition.
Crickets are an excellent addition to your rat’s diet.
Crickets not only provide extra protein, but other important nutrients such as calcium, zinc, and magnesium.
Feed crickets to your rats as part of a balanced diet. Do not feed your rat a diet solely consisting of crickets. Only feed them crickets as a treat.
- Frontiers in Nutrition, PubMed Central, Jan 2021
- ResearchGate, PDF article: protein quality, May 2018
Katarina Samurovic is an environmental analyst by education and a freelance scientific writer by choice and passion. She specializes in conservation biology, biodiversity, insect ecology, and trees.
Earthlife.net does not provide medical advice. We do our best to help users understand the science behind living beings; however, the content in the articles and on the website is not intended to substitute for consultation with a qualified expert. By interacting with the website and/or our email service, you agree to our disclaimer. Remember that you must consult a specialist before using any of the products or advice on the web.