Home | Bird diet | Collecting and Using Live and Processed Insects for Finches and other Pet Birds – Part 2

Collecting and Using Live and Processed Insects for Finches and other Pet Birds – Part 2

Please see Part I of this article for information on collecting insects for pet birds.

Today we’ll discuss breeding invertebrates at home, and take a look at some useful insect products.  Please see the articles referenced below for further details on each of these topics.

Raising Invertebrates

In addition to being an interesting endeavor, established colonies of invertebrates will provide you with a year-round supply of (largely free) live food.  Also, you will have access to individual insects of varied sizes, an important consideration to those with mixed collections or nesting birds.

Nutritional Value

Home-raised insects can be “nutrient loaded” (please see below) so as increase their value as a food item, and can be selected when they are at the most nutritious stage of their life cycle (i.e. newly molted and pupating mealworms).  The plumage of birds fed upon live insects often takes on a brilliance not seen in their “less fortunate” cousins (please see photo of Strawberry Finch).

Available Species

Crickets, mealworms, wax worms and fruit flies are the most commonly reared insects, but there are numerous other species to consider.  Roaches, despite their bad reputations, should not be ignored (only .3% of the world’s 4,500 species are household pests).  The soft-bodied orange spotted roaches are slow moving and, unable to climb glass, rarely escape their enclosures (please see below).

Sowbugs and earthworms are among the most useful and readily accepted of all invertebrates.  Widely kept by zoos and European and Asian aviculturists, they are, for some reason, largely overlooked in private collections in the USA.  Both are very easy to rear and breed; starter cultures are available commercially or may be collected.

Canned and Freeze-Dried Invertebrates

Canned grasshoppers, caterpillars and other invertebrates and freeze dried flies and Daphniamarketed for pet reptiles and fishes, offer very useful options to enterprising bird keepers.  I cannot understand why they are not more widely used (I keep hammering away at the point in my articles!), but hope they will come into their own soon.

Further Reading

Please see the following articles for further details on prepared insect products and invertebrate breeding:

Feeding Insects to Pet Birds: Anole Food Dried Invertebrates for Birds


Raising Orange Spotted Roaches

Breeding Mealworms

Prepared Diets for Crickets


Images referenced from Wikipedia and originally posted by Shyamal and Rasbak 

About Frank Indiviglio

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I believe that I was born with an intense interest in animals, as neither I nor any of my family can recall a time when I was not fascinated by creatures large and small. One might imagine this to be an unfortunate set of circumstances for a person born and raised in the Bronx, but, in actuality, quite the opposite was true. Most importantly, my family encouraged both my interest and the extensive menagerie that sprung from it. My mother and grandmother somehow found ways to cope with the skunks, flying squirrels, octopus, caimans and countless other odd creatures that routinely arrived un-announced at our front door. Assisting in hand-feeding hatchling praying mantises and in eradicating hoards of mosquitoes (I once thought I had discovered “fresh-water brine shrimp” and stocked my tanks with thousands of mosquito larvae!) became second nature to them. My mother went on to become a serious naturalist, and has helped thousands learn about wildlife in her 16 years as a volunteer at the Bronx Zoo. My grandfather actively conspired in my zoo-buildings efforts, regularly appearing with chipmunks, boa constrictors, turtles rescued from the Fulton Fish Market and, especially, unusual marine creatures. It was his passion for seahorses that led me to write a book about them years later. Thank you very much, for a complete biography of my experience click here.
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