Action: Carnivores: Provide live invertebrate prey, including in feeding devices
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For some carnivores, providing live invertebrates is a good form of feeding enrichment as it stimulates natural hunting behaviours. For example, providing crickets in a dispenser which is put under a mound, or placing crickets inside a pumpkin are methods which have been tried with some small felid species.
Wooster, D.S. 1997. Enrichment techniques for small felids at Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle. International Zoo Yearbook, 35, 208-212.
Supporting evidence from individual studies
A small replicated study in 1986 of fennec foxes Fennecus zerda in a zoo in the USA found that feeding live crickets increased explorative behaviours compared to meat being cut into smaller pieces, extra sand in the enclosure and less noise during cleaning. When fed live crickets, explorative behaviours increased (80 minutes/day) compared to the median of other conditions (40 minutes/day). Four fennec foxes housed in pairs were fed daily at 13:30 h on a commercial diet, fruit, eggs, fish bones and mealworms (only the two males’ data statistically analysed). Behaviours were assessed based on 24 hour video recordings during five to eight 10-day periods. The conditions included: 1) added sand, 2) provision of live crickets, 3) meat was cut into smaller pieces, and 4) no excessive noise made during cleaning. Behavioural categories included pacing, digging, exploring, burying food and resting/sleeping.