At some point most snake keepers will wonder if it would be more efficient to breed their own rodent supply. Due to the current economy, more and more pet owners are looking for ways to cut back on the cost of our pets. While the majority of pet owners wonder how to save money on bagged or canned commercially prepared food, reptile owners come across a different issue of how to become frugal when it comes to buying rodents.
Rats and mice are the most popular rodents on our scaly pets menu. While they can easily be purchased at most pet stores, both local and chain, over time the price will add up. The size and number of snakes will greatly affect the cost as well as be the biggest deciding factor of whether to breed your own rodents. Generally, if you only have one or two small snakes, breeding your own rats or mice will cost more than purchasing them. If you have large boids or a sizable collection of snakes in general breeding your own rodent supply will save you money in the long run. For example, breeding your own mice or rats “pinkies” or “hoppers” for a pair of snakes will cost much more than only spending a few dollars every month. Whereas breeding a small colony of rats for your large boas or pythons will save money rather than spending $40 or more every month buying them from a pet store. Other decisions that need to be made is how many rats you’ll need, how much feed will cost and how much will their cages cost. You’ll need to ask yourself a few questions.
– A healthy mother rat will usually produce between 6 to 12 pups. How many rats will you need? Will you be able to freeze the extra rats or will your snake only eat live? Most people start off with one male and a trio of females. While unlikely, what if every mother rat produced 12 babies? If you only have 2 or 3 snakes what are you going to do with 36 rats?
-While rats won’t need much space to produce babies they should be comfortable and have room to play and run about. Would you go with a rack system to save money? Or would individual cages be your plan? Will you use tubs or wire cages? What if the rats chew out of the tubs you use? Do some homework and find out how much bedding will be for the rats. Where are you going to put all of the dirty litter? Will you have the time to clean out cages every few days as well?
-Rats, especially growing babies and pregnant moms, will eat quite a bit. They will also need nutritious food. Many people feed their feeders a good quality dog food supplemented by grains, cereals and fresh fruits and veggies. Will you go that route or purchase expensive rat food that they sell at pet stores?
There are many things you must consider before deciding to breed your own rodents. Besides the basics stated above you must also think about vet care if one of your breeders falls ill, what method you’ll use to put your feeder mice or rats down, as well as many other things. You’ll need to set aside time everyday to check your rodents, their cages, make sure they have feed and water. Most breeders will agree that once you start breeding successfully, the hardest part is not wanting to keep every cute rat or mouse you produce!
Remember that you can never do enough homework nor talk to too many breeders and ask for their own personal experience. Google every concern you have, join knowledgeable forums and ask tons of questions, or even visit your local reptile store and ask for their help and advice.