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Feed, Caging, Supplies & Services Discussions concerning the feeding requirements of any of our critters, the cages they need to live in while in our care, and all of the supplies and services needed to do this right.

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Old 04-21-2005, 01:02 PM   #1
Mouse/Rat breeding tips?

When I started buying snakes I didn't have enough to warrant breeding my own, frozen was more economical at the time. Now that I have more snakes it makes sense to start breeding my own, if not to provide 100% of my need but at least to supplement and cut costs some.

Now I know the fundementals of breeding rodents- male + female = babies. What I am looking for is suggestions on keeping rodents for mass production rather than as pets. How do I cut costs? What are my alternatives to reg mouse/rat food without depriving the snake of certain nutrients? I can buy Sunseed Mouse/Rat Blocks for $1.50 per 2 lb bag locally (employee discount through a friend) there something even cheaper that provides the same basic nutrition (maybe something in a 20 lb bag). What are you using for bedding? Anything being used to supplement the mice with the intentions of it being passed onto the snake?

What's everyone's preferred method of euthanizing? CO2?

Any tips for freezing them, especially since we are working with a reg freezer versus a quick freeze solution like Rodentpro and the like would use?

Any help would certainly be appreciated.
Old 04-21-2005, 01:50 PM   #2
Scott Nellis
Talking rodent breeding

I just started breeding my own rats for my ball python collection and they are starting to take off! Ok, to do it on the cheap, I bought a bunch of those 66 quart plastic storage containers (under $5/ea), cut a big hole in the lids and bolted a heat return register ($6/ea) over the hole for escape proof ventilation. The only problem is a few of the rats tend to gnaw on the molded bottom of the container and create holes. I plan on epoxying metal screen over the holes to fix that. A hanging water bottle ($6), ceramic food dish ($3), and pine bedding ($11/40# bag) for litter completes the setup. This will hold 1 male and 2 female rats comfortably. For food, I buy Mazuri/Purina rat chow in 25# bags ($11) at my local feed mill...or Harlan chow in 33# bags ($19) at my favorite reptile store. Look up Maruzi.Com for locations near you to buy. I supplement the rat chow with a blend of premium bird seed ($10/50# bag) and rabbit chow ($15/50# bag). I think I got a very nutritious mix because my female rats regularly throw litters numbering 12-15!! The largest was 17 pups!!

For mice, I use 10 gallon aquariums with metal screen tops....same food, same litter, same water bottle setup. Only with mice, you can go with 1 male to 4 or 5 females. Mice seem to fare better if they are in small groups. I never had much luck with the 1+1 = babies formula....1+4 works better.

Euthanasia is acomplished with CO2 gas. I bought a 10# tank with regulator at a local welding supply store. The initial outlay was expensive ($179), but the gas refills are cheap ($17). I also bought a food vacuum bagger ($70) to vacuum pack the rodents after gassing. I don't have a quick freeze freezer, but haven't had a problem tossing the still warm vacuumed packed bag in a normal freezer. Works well for me.

Most of this stuff can be bought at WalMart or PetCo pretty cheap (except the CO2). I'm sure there are other ways of doing this, but for me, it was cheap and it works well.

Scott Nellis
Old 04-21-2005, 01:57 PM   #3
The other good thing is the store I get the food from also sells me the big $10-12 bundles of pine for under $4.

I currently have 1.4, is it possible to in a larger container have even more females or are there issuses with cannibalism?

Thanks for the tips on that food, will check out the local Agway for that stuff.
Old 04-21-2005, 02:27 PM   #4
Scott Nellis
Talking overcrowding

Cool deal on the bedding!! Yeah, mice tend to canniblize more often than rats, but I've found that if there's enough food, water and space, that you can keep more of them together. In my 10 gallon aquariums, I have a few that have 2 males and up to 8 females.....but that's pushing the space limitations to the max. With that many females, they tend to "community" nest....several females having their babies in the same nest spot. The problem with that big of a nest is that some babies will not be able to nurse and will probably die due to the intense competition for an available teet. Of course, if you have a 20 gallon long or bigger container, it shouldn't be a problem. Just double up on the water bottles and food bowls to make sure everyone gets their fill.

Another'll need to cull the baby males as they mature. They are very territorial and will fight, no matter how big their enclosure is. 1 or 2 males per enclosure is more than enough.

As the baby mice grow and are weaned, you might want to set up a "holding tank" enclosure to keep them in till they are the size you want, before gassing them. That way, the breeding tank females can give birth to the next litter without a bunch of weanlings trying to continue nursing. They will most certainly kill the newborns by trampling on them when trying to nurse.

Scott Nellis
Old 04-21-2005, 03:09 PM   #5
Was planning on seperating them as soon as they can live on their own. Good tip on culling males, thanks. I have 1.4 in a 10 gallon and was planning on setting up a few larger spare tanks I have, a 40BR and a 55.
Old 04-21-2005, 03:54 PM   #6
I have to add my expertise here First off check out for local feed stores. I raise and show rabbits so I know where to get the good deals. Look for an agway or something of that nature. Ask for a bale of shavings....forty pound bag 3 dollars, then get a fifty pound bag of any rabbit feed for about 8 dollars. I find the mice will soil there crocks so check out for cheaper housing supplies. THey can custom build just about any caging system you like. Or get a huge rubbermaid roughneck tote from walmart. Hope this helps....feed stores are always cheaper!! And with the shavings they aren't on the shelf (the ones that are are expensive) as for them by bales at the counter and if you can't find a feed store look at horse tack shops!
Old 04-21-2005, 05:20 PM   #7
where did u get the vacume packer?
Old 04-21-2005, 06:31 PM   #8
Originally Posted by stupidclauton
where did u get the vacume packer?
You can probably find one on Ebay or at Walmart. They also used to sell them on infomercials a lot so finding one on a TV ad at 3am might be possible......start brewing some coffee so you can stay up for it. :P
Old 04-22-2005, 12:31 PM   #9
Scott Nellis
Talking vacuum packing

I got my "seal a meal" vacuum packer (Foodsaver brand) at WalMart. Target and Fleet Farm also carry them (if those stores are in your area). I got the 8 inch wide one with a roll of bag material. That way, you can cut the bags to whatever length you need. In hindsight, I should have spent the extra money and got the 11 inch model. The bags are bigger and easier to stuff mice into. They're extremely easy to use and work very well! I have some mice that I vacuum froze in early January...sor far, no frost or freezer burn!

Scott Nellis
Old 05-11-2005, 11:46 AM   #10
can you just ziplock them or is the vacuum sealer a must? if so I will get it I am just getting into the breeding mice now that I have 30+ snakes

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