5 Reasons for Breeding Your Own Feeder Rats and Mice for Snakes
So Why You Would Want to Breed Rodents?
There are many reasons. I got started because there was an actual nationwide shortage of available rodents! Yes, believe it or not, for a couple of years there was no regular supply to feed to our hungry reptiles. Local breeders that I knew in person had stopped selling altogether, and large online suppliers put you on a waiting list and had limited quantities!
The Five Major Benefits of Breeding Feeders
The following are the five major benefits of breeding feeder rats and mice. We'll go through each one in more detail below:
- The ability to always have the right size, species, and quantity on hand.
- The ability to save money—lots of it.
- The potential to have your hobby paid for or even start a business!
- The prevention of money, time, gas, and food waste.
- The ability to raise higher quality feeders in a more humane way.
1. Always Having Feeders When You Need Them!
So the first pro is supply. Breeding your own rodents will always ensure that you never run out!
Rodent Shortages Can Happen
So why was there such a shortage? There is a high demand for rodents. There is always a steady need for them in the medical field, and the demand for feeders is increasing as the hobby of keeping exotic pets, such as reptiles, continues to grow.
In addition, oil had gone up, which caused corn to become more expensive. Corn is a major ingredient in commercial feeds for rodents. So the breeders had two options: Pay more for feed and lose profit, or have the same amount of bills but cut down on feed and rodents. Breeders also narrowed their client list down, refusing to take any new customers, and compensated on price by increasing shipping.
I was able to usually to get free shipping. Once they had run out of the correct sizes and quantity I needed, I was forced to look elsewhere. I found a company who would sell me what I wanted, but I had to pay for overnight shipping, to the tune of $110.00! Suddenly my usual rodent order had doubled in price.
2. Reducing or Getting Rid of Your Costs
So the second pro is cost. You can absolutely save money by breeding your own rodents. You can avoid the waiting time, price hikes, and shipping costs. You can also save money on feed by negotiating a bulk price with your local feed store or by supplementing commercial bags with healthy kitchen scraps, such as fruits, bread, and vegetables. My rats sit up and beg for raisins. Heck, that's kind of cute and fun.
3. Making That Money!
The third pro is all about profit! Isn't that exciting? Getting set up with equipment can be costly in the beginning, but once your system is set up will you often start producing more rodents than you will ever need. Many people, including myself, sell the extras to help thin out populations in the cages and to earn a little extra on the side.
I have a somewhat large snake collection, about thirty, depending on what I hatch out or sell. My ball pythons would cost about $4,000.00 annually to feed, if I continued to purchase from somewhere or someone else. Thankfully, I breed my own feeders, which would cost me about me about $1,300.00 in purchased food. Except that it doesn't.
Your Rodents Will Eventually Pay for Themselves
My rats and mice pay for themselves. Yes, I earn enough from selling the extras that they pay for the cost of electricity, water, cleaning supplies, bedding, transportation, and food. There is the cost of the amount of time I put in. I'd like to get to the point where I could pay myself an hourly wage. The initial investment of equipment would be amortized over time.
Many people completely cover their maintenance expenses and make a nice side income each month. There are a few people who become so successful that they turn rodent breeding into a business and make a living doing this!
4. Preventing Waste
The fourth major reason, or pro, for doing this would be the prevention of waste. I've had the maddening experience of going through the effort and expense of getting just the right-sized rat, thawing it out, presenting it to the ball python, only for the picky thing to decide that she didn't want to eat that week! Oh, and by the way, none of my other snakes wanted it either! So I had to throw the rat out.
Not only did I waste my time, not only did I just throw money down the drain, but that poor rat's life was wasted. He was born and grown to be a feeder. He was not eaten, therefore his was life was wasted. Now that is a tragedy.
Most people who breed their own feeders don't bother to do frozen-thawed rodents. It's too time-consuming and so the snakes get used to eating live prey. If the rodent you try to feed does not get eaten, you can put him back in his colony to be with his brothers and sisters. No harm, no foul, no waste.
5. Getting Quality Over Quantity
The fifth major benefit is quality. The rats and mice can have better, more varied food, more attention, cleaner housing, and be happier in general. You can feed your reptiles fresher food and therefore, have better nutrition.
Rodents can be a vector for disease. There are some breeders who do massive breeding in suspended wire floors. No attention is paid to the crowding, the stress, or the happiness of the rodent. High mortality rates are common and these rodents will often get sold to customers with respiratory infections or internal parasites, which can passed on to your pet or even you. Ammonia and disease levels are so high that the breeder will go in with a gas mask and a HAZMAT suit on. The place will stink to high hell.
You Can Ensure That Your Rodents Are Healthy and Well-Treated
No animals should live this way, whether they are being raised as food or not. I can keep up with the forty cages of rats and mice that I have. I know all the breeders and what type of genetic mutations they have. I know which ones are good parents with high fertility rates and I know which ones are fearful or aggressive. I know this particular rat loves scratches behind the ears, and one who puts up with it but will crawl onto my hand for raisins.
Doing my method takes more time, labor, and money for the amount of rodents produced but I also have healthy animals not crawling with parasites. They are happy so they don't bite me when I come to clean their cages, and they are not packed together so the place doesn't make people gag when they walk in. Except for on cleaning day, forty cages worth of rodents only smell like fresh pine bedding.
So, Is It Worth It?
That's up to you.
It's a matter of economies of scale. Breeding in massive numbers (think about a million in one warehouse) can produce rodents for $0.50. Breeding my way will produce less rodents over time for about $1.00. I still make enough to pay for my hobby.
Is it worth it? For myself, I can absolutely say yes. If you can't start breeding yourself, support a local rodent breeder and buy from them. You'll have the benefit of being able to see the conditions of how the animals are being raised as well.
Can you think of more reasons or benefits towards breeding your own rodent feeders? If so, leave your comment below, and thanks for reading!
What a Beginning Breeder Set Up Might Look Like
So have you taken the plunge and started breeding your own rodents?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
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