By: the Invertebrate Editors at Pet Care
Feeding Purchased Frozen Mice and Rats to your Reptile
Because of the potential for injury or parasites inherent in
feeding live rodents to captive animals, many experienced
pet owners recommend feeding only dead food. Some reptiles
tend to refuse dead prey, but usually that can be overcome
if you will hold the thawed mouse or rat with a pair of long
tongs and wriggle it in front of your pet as though it were
One exception to the no live food idea is pinkie mice. They
are often the best choice for getting young snakes or lizard
to eat, and pinkie mice are too young to injure your pet.
But if you do feed pinkie mice to your young animals, begin
as soon as possible to train them to take dead prey, and you
should have no problem.
If you purchase pre-frozen rodents online or from your local
pet store, all you will need to do is to thoroughly thaw
them, preferably to eighty to one hundred degrees Fahrenheit
(twenty-seven to thirty-eight degrees Celsius). You can do
this by putting the food animal under a heat lamp, onto a
heating pad, or into a waterproof container or plastic
zipper bag submerged in hot water. Don't use the microwave
or oven, the insides of the animal might get hot enough to
injure your pet when it eats it.
Feeding home grown frozen Mice and Rats to your Reptile
and Amphibian Pets
If you have many carnivorous pets or don't have a good
source of live food for your pets, you may decide to raise
and freeze your own mice, rats or other rodents for live pet
food. If so, you should kill them as humanely as possible.
The recommended method for killing small animals is to build
your own gas chamber and use carbon dioxide. This method
suffocates the animal quickly and painlessly, and leaves no
contamination for your pets. A newspaper-lined box of a
suitable size, the box must have a lid, and a CO2 tank with
a regulator from a welding supply company will work fine.
(Keep the chamber and tank out of the reach of children.)
Simply run a hose from the tank to the box and keep the gas
on long enough to make sure that the rodents are completely
The newly dead rodent should be immediately fed to your pet
or quickly frozen and packaged in freezer bags. If you are
going to store a large number of frozen rodents, you might
freeze a quantity separately on trays, then fill up a large
freezer bag, seal it, and put that bag into a slightly
Keep the most of your stored frozen live food in your deep
freeze and just keep one bag easily available for feeding.
Keep the bag in your refrigerator freezer if your family
will allow it; just put the plastic bag into a paper bag to
hide the contents if someone is squeamish. That way the bulk
of the frozen rodents will stay hard frozen and will last
longer and avoid freezer burn.
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