Muscat – With demand for pet food rising, the niche market for live food for pets is growing in Oman. To exploit the market, an Omani startup has ventured into insect farming.
“There is a huge need for live food in the form of insects for exotic pets like bears, rodents and reptiles. Insects are a rich source of nutrition for pets,” said Asaad K al Hassni, the man behind the concept.
Hassni started working on the idea in 2019 and since then has attracted great interest from people all over Oman.
“I breed insects like worms, superworms, crickets, etc as live food for animals (specifically pets) that need to hunt something alive. In my insectaria, we breed insects for reptiles, birds, hedgehogs, scorpions and many other exotic animals. This project was developed to fulfil the demands of all those animal lovers that keep exotic pets at home, specially chameleons and birds.”
He added that main objective behind the project is to provide high quality live food in order to maintain healthy and happy pets.
“We also provide materials and adequate habitats specially designed to fulfil the necessities of these exotic animals.”
The job has its challenges, he said. “One of them is the red ant and the other is heat. Red ants love to feast on crickets. They attack in teams and are very well co-ordinated and though the crickets are big and powerful, they are killed instantly. I also lost almost 10,000 crickets in this summer because of the heat. Anything within the temperature of 25°C to 32°C is fine; but beyond that, they die.”
Hassni believes that the insects also have the potential as the food of the future for humans, “because they don’t transfer diseases to humans as chicken or meat do. They have much more and better quality protein than other sources. It’s production is environment friendly and is very affordable”.
There are about one million of species described and many more to discover, but not all are edible due to toxicity and their hard exoskeleton, said Hassni.
“We breed five species of crickets and two species of worms that are completely safe and free of parasites,” he said.
The insects are bred in a warm temperature and are fed with high quality cereals, proteins and fresh vegetables to give the best nutrition to the pets.
Apart from his business venture, Hassni is passionate about diving, and is the founder of Mobula Dive Centre. He is also an emergency first aid instructor.