You’ve defrosted a mouse or rat for your ball python to eat but he or she wasn’t hungry and decided not to feed when you offered it the meal. What do you do with the defrosted rodent that your ball python refused to eat? Do you throw it in the garbage or can you possibly refreeze it again for use at a later time? This is a topic that’s debated quite frequently amongst ball python keepers. If you’re wondering whether I’m going to “set the record straight once and for all” and give you the correct answer in this blog entry, well, unfortunately this is one of those rare occasions where I can’t advise you one way or the other. However, what I can do is give you arguments from both parties, the ones that will refreeze and the ones that will not refreeze and you can make your own judgment call accordingly.
Don’t think you’re the only one that has wondered whether it was okay to refreeze a defrosted rodent for use at a later time. There seems to be two camps when it comes to refreezing a thawed rodent. The “it’s okay to refreeze” camp and the “no way in Hades will I refreeze” camp. The latter group, the “no way in Hades will I refreeze” base their argument on bacteria. Bacteria slows in cold environments and speeds up in warmer environments. Their argument is that the thawing process enables bacteria to multiply and grow quickly. Freezing splits cells and split cells facilitate the expedience of a rotting carcass. They feel that if the ball python doesn’t feed, refreezing the rodent will only make the bacteria process worse due to the load that has developed prior to refreezing and how the load will compound in growth during the next thawing process.
The “it’s okay to refreeze” camp agrees with the rationale offered by the other camp but their argument has to do with how ball pythons in the wild feed on some occasions. We all know that ball pythons constrict prey but many of us do not know that they are also opportunistic feeders that will feed on a dead prey item if encountered. I’m not talking frozen thawed dead, I’m talking about “crawling through the bush in Africa, spot a dead decomposing rodent and consume it”, dead. The “it’s okay to refreeze” camp feels as though it’s a natural phenomenon so it’s okay to have a high bacteria load in a rodent as a result of refreezing. Their other argument has to do with the cost of discarding rodents over a period of time. Some feel that an annual dosage of de-wormer medicine such as Flagyl, Panacur and the like, will deal with any internal problems posed by the feedings.
I feel like Morpheus from the move “The Matrix” speaking to you, Neo, right now. I’ve given you both sides of the argument so it’s now up to you as to which camp you’ll join.
“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill - you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”
-Morpheus, The Matrix (1999)
but you didnt tell me which camp you are in!
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