Your ball python needs to feed like every living organism on our wonderful planet but unfortunately rodents are quite expensive at some pet stores and that expense adds up quickly if you have to feed more than one ball python. Most pet stores buy their rodents in bulk from a rodent breeder and mark up the retail price 100% or better in some cases. The price of rodents vary from pet store to pet store depending on your geographic location and I’ve heard reports of small rats being sold for $4-5 a piece in some areas. I’m also told that many of the larger retail chain pet stores make you sign a form indicating that the rodents you purchase will not be used as feeders.
Local Rodent Breeder
There are a several ways you can save money on feeder rodents. One is to know someone who breeds them and if you’re on good terms with the person, he or she may give you a couple rats or mice a week if they can spare them. You could also check to see if you have any local rodent breeders in your area that will sell you some. If you only have a few ball pythons or less, they might not do business with you because your orders will be small and not very advantageous to them. If this is the case, you could purchase a week or two supply worth of rodents and house them if you have the space and resources to do so. Another thing you could do is to find a few friends that have snakes and pool your weekly order together for your local rodent breeder. This might increase your chances of doing business with the breeder since your order will be worth their efforts in filling.
Group of baby rats
Frozen rodents are another option you can pursue for feeding your ball python as well. You have to defrost them first and then offer them to your ball python as a meal. I’ve noticed that some pet stores will sell frozen but the cost is the same as live. The best way to save money with frozen rodents is to buy them in bulk. The downside to this is that you need a freezer (or space in your freezer) to keep them in. The idea of keeping frozen rodents next to your T-bone steak in the freezer doesn’t go over to well with some people. If you an extra freezer or don’t mind keeping rodents near your next meal then frozen is a good choice to consider. There are many reputable rodent breeders who sell frozen rodents via the Internet. You have to buy in bulk and the shipping can be expensive because they include dry ice to keep the rodents frozen in transit to your home. You can also find friends that feed frozen and pool your orders together as well in order to save money.
Breed your Own
Breeding rodents is a fairly straightforward process that you can do to so save a considerable amount of money on your rodent bills. The initial expenditures or money needed to get things started will pay for itself over time. The general rule is one female rodent per snake so if you have five ball pythons, you should have five breeder female rodents in addition to a male breeder rodent. You can keep your rodents in a 20-gallon fish tank with a bowl for their food, aspen shavings or rodent shavings as the substrate and a commercial water bottle. It’s best to have 3-4 females per male per cage. Do not house multiple males in the same cage because they could become territorial and possibly kill or injure one another in a battle to mate with the limited females. You can expect a litter of 10 babies or better from each female and it’s usually safe to keep the males in with the females when they give birth to their litters.
Although it’s a very gruesome sight to behold, some females will cannibalize their first litter. Overcrowding can also result in litters being cannibalized by the mother or others in the group. This is a rare situation but it can happen nonetheless so you should be aware that it could occur. Females will often steal each other’s babies over the course of a couple days but they tend to stop this behavior after a week or so. They won’t injure the baby but will help in the nursing process. It’s quite normal for females to nurse babies that are not their own and can help take some pressure off a female that delivered a very large litter. Rodents tend to burn out after several months of breeding so you should hold back some females and raise them as replacement breeders or purchase new stock in order to eliminate successive generations of inbreeding.
You should also clean their cages every three days or so because rats tend to have a very strong ammonia smell from their urine whereas mice tend to have a strong musky smelling urine. A dirty cage can cause urine burns on babies and attract un-welcomed flies and other insects in addition to becoming a breeding ground for bacteria and other germs. You can also add a teaspoon of vanilla extract per gallon of water to help fight the offensive urine smells but cleaning their cages often will help fight the smell as well.
If you need to breed a very large amount of rodents, you should consider commercial lab-type rodent breeding setups.
Large scale rodent breeding
Feeding your Rodents
You can purchase rodent food from your local pet store or you can substitute it for high quality dog food. If you feed them dog food remember to check the ingredients to see if it contains red dye. If it does, do not purchase it because red dye has been rumored to cause cancer in rodents. I feed my rodents a high quality food used by zoo’s and made especially for rodents. There are several high quality rodent foods that you can feed them but I feed my rodents’ food products made exclusively by Mazuri. They come in a 50 pound bag and retail for $18-$25 in certain areas.
50 pound Mazuri rodent food
Their food products are specifically designed for rodents and have the necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients for mice or rats at all growth stages. They're fashioned in small blocks but are power packed with nutrients.
Mazuri rodent blocks
I hope I've been able to provide you with useful information that will help save yourself some money on your rodent food bills. If you’d like to discuss this topic in greater detail you’re welcomed to start a thread in our forum.
This post has 43 feedbacks awaiting moderation...
Leave a comment
|« Dealing with Poor Ball Python Sheds||Ball Python Apparel and Merchandise Launched! »|