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General Business Discussions This is a general purpose forum open to business related topics concerning Reptiles and Amphibians that are neither appropriate for the Board of Inquiry, nor sales, purchase, or trade solicitations.

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Old 01-22-2014, 11:45 PM   #1
Rodent Breeding Facility

I am contemplating leasing a older industrial building for rodent production. The building would be between 800-1500 SQ ft, I currently breed rats/ mice for myself. My question is... If anyone had any feedback? bad ventures/ experiences, words of advise? I guess my biggest question is.... With that amount of space, "super rough estimate".... What would I be capable of producing? I currently have a 300 Sq foot room in a office type situation, Its great for my herp collection and the rent is pretty much zero at the moment.... Rent for a building in my area is about $800-$1200.00 a month. I really do not make money on my reptiles, I am not currently producing anything of high value reptile wise.... I would simply want the space for my expanding hero collection, to be able to feed all my animals with the rodents being produced, and use the income from the extra rodents to pay the rent bill....

Any feedback would be appreciated.

Ive asked a few friends with reptiles to partake in half of the operation and a chance to keep their collection in a facility with no luck, One of my biggest fears would be signing a lease, assembling everything, and not having the extra cash to pay "high rent" due to low production/ low sales.... Also, where I am now, the rodents are a bit stinky, so I am looking to ramp up my own production for myself a bit but I cannot because of the smell effecting the business I am in.

Thanks in advance

Old 01-23-2014, 12:10 AM   #2
It takes a LOT of rats to have enough to sell on a regular basis. Say you need 50 meds every week and a med is 5 weeks old. That means you need to have 250 rats on the way up just to be those 50 every week. Need a couple hundred smalls? You'll need another 600 or so coming up. 200 pinks, 200 pups, and 200 smalls. Just to produce that 250 rats you need 850 in the queue, so to speak. It takes time to get them up to size and if you have a wipe out, it takes a few months to really get back up to speed. Too hot, too cold, water line problems, disease, food, lots of fun things to consider. Then there's the time involved in cleaning. It's a serious commitment.
Old 01-23-2014, 12:39 AM   #3
Serious commitment, indeed. That's an understatement.

You will probably find that you can't afford to hire someone (or ones) to help, so you will need to plan on doing all the labor yourself. Are you prepared to devote your life to this? We raising a LOT of mice in only 240 square feet but it was a full time commitment. We couldn't leave for any longer than three days MAX before water bottles would be dry. So that meant no vacations. For something like 20 years. No time off being sick. Christmas? The rodents need attention, so get to it.

If you lease a building, you better find out whether the neighbors are going to object to the smell before you have the health department beating on your door. The further you are away from anyone else, the better. They WILL stink. And so will you after working with them. You will likely lose your sense of smell. What will you do with all the old cage bedding? You will need to cool the building substantially in the summer months, because a large number of rodents can produce an astonishing amount of heat. What happens if the AC dies or the electric feed goes out? You've only got several hours before the inside of your building goes thermonuclear, killing everything. I had to put in a large automated backup generator because I came REAL close to that happening to me. And I just got tired of worrying about it. Couldn't have just one AC unit, I needed to have two in case one of them failed. Which then DID, about every year or two. The ammonia in the air from the rodents will make short work of the coiling coils in an AC unit.

And be sure to check zoning regulations as well. Not every location will even allow animal production of any sort. Find this all out UP FRONT before ever even considering going forward. You will not appreciate the possibly unpleasant surprises lurking.

Cooling might not be as big of a problem for you living up north, as you can probably get away most of the year with fans to draw hot air out of the building. But those fans will also be pulling the smell out, and distributing it even further, bringing to front the issue mentioned earlier about irate neighbors.

What will the cost of bedding material and rodent chow cost you? With our colony, we were spending around $700 every two weeks. For you that will be on top of your monthly rental for the building. What is that going to leave you for "profit"? How many rodents will you have to produce to sell in order to make ends meet?

Seriously, the breeding of the rodents was always much more of a pain in the ass than the breeding of the reptiles for us. But we had no other choice. You will be taking on some serious work and responsibility by going commercial with it. Will you make money? Maybe. Will it be worth the time and effort you have to put into it? Maybe not. You could probably go work at Walmart and make more on an hourly basis and not have all the headaches associated.
Old 01-23-2014, 01:04 AM   #4
Great points from both of you! Many of these things have crossed my mind... and it has made me very hesitant. I've been in the same "room" in a office building for the past two years and its worked out GREAT (mainly the herps) Rich, while reading your input it really made me stop and imagine in my mind what you were talking about.... I could smell the ammonia in my mind, and I know all too well what its like to "feel" body heat from "too many animals". It actually makes me wonder how bigger producers even do it ($$?)... I originally wasn't thinking to go all out ballistic, but what you were saying Wes makes a lot of sense, I really would have to overstock based on time lapses occurring with gestation, weaning, and possibly other factors. I also know any spike in the demand aspect and wanting to appease customers could send me back ten fold just by overselling and under stocking... Also lastly, the neighbors.... Though I hadn't put much thought into that as much as zoning and city regulations, thats a great point! I couldn't imagine having to deal with complaining neighbors, or feel bad dumping tons of stinky shavings and waste into a "shared" garbage dumpster.

Thank you both for the input, I will take all of what you both said into consideration.
Old 01-24-2014, 08:35 PM   #5
I used to help out in a rodent breeding business in Arlington Tx. , and we were in an industrial warehouse complex like you are considering. Even there, there were regular complaints about the smell, escaped rats, etc. There were regular visits and inspections by animal control, health dept., and building inspectors. I'm not sure exactly about the finances, but I know that there were constant economic pressures. If not for volunteer labor like myself, I'm sure the place would have gone out of business much sooner. I volunteered because I wanted to learn as much as I could from the owner about colubrids since he had written several books about kings and milks. It was worth it.

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