American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

This article is from the WSSF 2013 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.

Critter Critiques

Bone-A-Fide/Buckey Bites/Critter Chew All Natural Antler Chews Review
Bone-A-Fide antler chews
Some of the Bone-a-fide antler chew pieces.

Karen Robbins, Winnetka, CA
This product is one that we first became aware of from an e-mail sent in by veterinarian, Dr. Gregory J. Costanzo. He found the tips of the antlers were the perfect size for mice, rats, squirrels, etc., and he had good results giving them to his own little ones. He partnered up with the company and they had just finished a nutritional analysis with Cornell that found they have a pretty high-quality product. We were initially sent a small box of samples, then later we got a box of packaged samples of Critter Chew All Natural Antler Chews that we were able to hand out at a couple of our shows to several of the exhibitors to try out and give their feedback.

The product label says this:

Critter Chew All Natural Antler Chews.
Veterinarian recommended.
For healthier teeth, coat, joints, and kidneys.
For rats, mice, squirrels, and ferrets.
Product of USA. Critters love them!
The perfect treat for your pet.

Critter Chew All Natural Antler Chews are nature’s perfect chew for the critter population! Cut from 100% North American shed deer or elk antler. No animals are harmed in our processing. An excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and calcium for your pet. They support bone, joint, and muscle health. Particularly helpful for your pet’s dental health as well. Non-allergenic and 100% natural. They are odor free and will not splinter or chip. Your pet will love them!

Buckey Bites claims are supported by University Study.

Warning! Always supervise your pet when chewing. Take antler away from your pet if it becomes a swallowing hazard.

I first gave these to a cage of rats. At first they smelled them and seemed interested but the other treats I also gave at the same time needed their attention first. After the treats were gone, then they went back to checking out the antler pieces and started chewing on them. I then gave them to other cages of rats and they all showed interest in them right away with many carrying them off to start chewing on them.

Rat eating antler
This Black Variegated female rat LOVED these. Rat owned and bred by Karen Robbins.

These are small pieces that are just the right size for each rat or mouse to carry it off and have their own chew piece. The sample bags had a pointy piece as well as a round center-cut piece. The rats all seem to like the pointy pieces better as I could never find those pieces when I cleaned the cages, but would often find the chewed-on center-cut pieces.

Mouse eating antler
The mom-mouse that started chewing on the piece right away after putting it in the cage. Blue Self Standard owned and bred by Karen Robbins.

I gave them to several cages of mice, and in one cage the mom right away took the pointy piece and started chewing on it. Most of the males showed interest right away and a couple days later there were several pieces that had been chewed on, though in one cage it didn’t look like it had been chewed on very much. Being mice, they didn’t chew them up as fast as what the rats did. However, it looked like some of the individual males had stopped chewing on them after a few days so a few weeks later I took them out and gave to others to try out.

Rat eating antler
The Black Variegated female rat at a different time chewing on one of the center-cut pieces. Rats owned and bred by Karen Robbins.

Overall, this is a good addition to other chews such as wood or edible bones (real bones or Nylabones). They are very hard which takes the animals a while to chew through them, and being all natural, they are getting additional minerals and vitamins. You can order them online through the Buckey Bites web site (the Critter Chews are the rodent size).

Immediate Success

Jozzette Hagemann, Jozzy’s Rat Pack Rattery, Rowland Heights, CA
I have a small rattery. I like to keep my ratties happy and healthy. I was at an AFRMA show and I was given some samples of the antler chews for my ratties. I put them in all of the cages that night and it was an immediate success. The sounds of the rats working away at the antler chews was like piano keys being jostled around…all night long! A few days later, on cleaning day, I found maybe two nubs…the rest had disappeared. I guess they liked them!

“Critter Chew” antler chews samples.
The “Critter Chew” antler chews samples.

Rats Enjoy Chews

Esther & Craig Kinzer, Riverside, CA
Both our girls have enjoyed chewing the antler chews, and neither have displayed any negative effects from doing so. Anneka, who is always chewing something, has been very persistent in her efforts to consume the various pieces. She has spent at least as much time on the antler chews as she has on the rawhide chews we’ve provided. Febe seemed a little wary at first, as she does with most changes to her environment, but warmed up to them after a second introduction. She doesn’t expend as much time or energy in chewing them, but that may be because she is not as avid a chewer as her sister.

There is always a little pile of crumbs left when one of the girls has left off chewing, something I never noticed with the rawhide chew.

For the brief period of time that the girls have had the antler chews, they have shown less interest in chewing the baseboards and door molding, which is a very positive side effect in my opinion.

Male vs. Female

Lisa Jarosek, Doll Baby Rattery, Diamond Bar, CA
The Antler chews I tested out in 4 cages—all rats were over the age of 6 months old. I provided 4 antlers in each cage and replenished with 4 more when it was determined they were consumed. If the antlers were left, I noted and removed the leftovers and provided fresh antlers and noted consumption.

  • Cage 1 contained a breeding group of 1 male and 2 females
  • Cage 2 contained 3 males
  • Cage 3 contained 4 females
  • Cage 4 contained 2 males

All cages were given the chews on the same day/time. I provided them in the afternoon before their feeding time as I feed on a scheduled basis.

  • Cage 1: The females ignored the chews on day 1, the male chomped a little on one but I found most of it in the cage later in the evening with the other 3 chews intact. Day 2, I noticed one of the females eating a chew. No other noticeable activity but the next morning all chews were gone.
  • Cage 2: The males started investigating the chews immediately and by the next morning all 4 chews were gone.
  • Cage 3: None of the females nibbled on the chews. The next day I noticed they were slightly chewed on. All 4 remained in the cage for the next 2 days.
  • Cage 4: Two of the chews were consumed that evening and the remaining two were consumed by the next evening.

Replacement 3 days later with 4 more chews per cage:

  • Cage 1: After 2 more days, two chews were gone.
  • Cage 2: After 2 more days, all chews were gone.
  • Cage 3: After 2 more days, 1 chew was consumed, the remainder were hidden in the bedding, with only slight nibbles.
  • Cage 4: After 2 more days, all chews were gone.

With the remaining chews, I continued to disburse to other rats and noticed that most of the chews were immediately consumed by males more often than females. Most of the females chewed on an antler, dropped it and found another one to chew on, and then subsequently dropped and moved on to another randomly. I also found more leftover nibbled on chews in more of the female groups than the males.

Need Larger Pieces!

Kimberly Millspaugh, Ratty Rat Rattery, Ramona, CA
I received several packages of antler chews that were about 1–2 inches long and about one-half inch in diameter. I’ve given large antlers to my dogs before, and they loved them. It wasn’t a surprise that the rats did too! I gave each cage of about 5 rats 2–3 pieces of antler, and they were running about, stealing them from each other. Occasionally, someone would find a good hiding spot to sit and hold the antler between their paws and chew on it, and it really seemed like they enjoyed them a lot. The next day, I looked around each cage, and had trouble finding all the pieces I had put in, I found a few, but either the rats hid them really well, or they ate them. At the end of the week at cage cleaning, I couldn’t find any of them, so the rats definitely made good use of them. I think my rats would have enjoyed larger pieces, which maybe they do come larger normally, and mine were just a sample size, not sure. That would be my only criticism, need larger pieces!

MORE INFO: Bone-A-Fide Antlers, Inc., 102 Rainbow Circle, Buhl, ID 83316-1241. Critter Chew All Natural Antler Chews, Buckey Bites LLC, 6130 W. Flamingo Road, Unit 538, Las Vegas, NV 89103, phone number (800) 509-3956, e-mail Their web site is *

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Updated December 15, 2021