Feeding Your Snake Frozen Mice and Rats

Rat Bite
Rat Bite

Why Your Snake Deserves F/T rodents

There's usually a big debate over frozen or live rodents. Personally, I prefer frozen, but I have a picky snake, which I'll explain later. First off, snakes aren't the only reptile who will munch on a mouse every now and then. Monitors, tegus, bearded dragons, and even gecko species will eat various sizes and ages of mice and rats. Except for the thrill of watching your reptile hunt, kill, and eat a live rodent, in general, frozen's better for your pet...

Reason number one: Rodents bite... If your snake does not initially grab the rodent in the right spot, it can turn around and latch on, while it's being suffocated by the snake. And, once your snake has fully killed the rodent, and begins to find the head for proper swallowing, the bite is usually noticeable. The bigger the snake, the bigger the rodent, and the bigger the bite.

One of my friend's boyfriend had a Burmese python. He feed it live jumbo rats. And one day, Natas was bitten by a jumbo rat, who broke a few of her ribs. My friend's boyfriend was rather perturbed thinking his baby was hurt, and immediately, acting on instinct, killed the rat.

Initial bite was in a back artery, luckily the snake wasn't bit.
Initial bite was in a back artery, luckily the snake wasn't bit.

Reason number two: Frozen rodents can be kept in the freezer, versus having to buy live rodents every week or two. It is more convenient to feed F/T rodents because you can purchase more at a time, and not have to worry about having to take care of them. But, you never want to keep large numbers of frozen feeders in your freezer if you only need a few because the longer they're frozen, the less nutritional value they have for you reptile.

Many petstores carry packs of three frozen pinkies, fuzzies, mice, etc., which can be the ideal situation for someone with one baby kingsnake, or one juvenile monitor. A person with several snakes would use the entire package if not more at one feeding time, which is why there are several online stores for people who can purchase 50 or more frozen feeders.

Reason number three: Many people believe that by freezing the rodents, the parasites are killed. Now, some parasites will die from freezing them, but on the other hand, some parasite eggs will continue to survive. The best way to avoid feeding your reptile a parasitic rodent, is to make sure you're getting your F/T's from a clean environment, with disease-free animals.

If you are able to purchase a few females and one male, you could breed you own feeders, and find humane ways to kill the feeders before throwing them in the freezer yourself. This would ensure that what you're feeding your reptile(s) is (1) disease free and (2) healthy prior to freezing.

Snakes are the only ones who eat rodents. My bearded dragon eating a thawed pinkie mouse.
Snakes are the only ones who eat rodents. My bearded dragon eating a thawed pinkie mouse.

Thawing F/T Rodents

When feeding frozen rodents, fully thaw them out, but do NOT microwave them as it will just blow it up, which I've done. I have placed a pinkie mouse in a small cup of water in the microwave and the guts popped out a tiny hole, but luckily the hole was clogged by the end of the 10 seconds, so it was still usable. To thaw out a frozen feeder, place it in hot water until it's fully thawed.

Feeding Snakes

If your reptile will not eat the F/T rodent, try placing it in his hide, so that he feels more secure when eating it. You can put towels around the tank, again making him feel secure enough to eat the frozen. If all else fails, try dipping it in tuna juice and drying it; this way it has an extra odor, and by drying it with a hair drier, the rodent will be extra heated for the reptile.

If you're adamant about your reptile eating frozen, then you can force feed him for a while to get him used to it, and eventually he will do it on his own. Before you try force feeding, though, I would let him go without food and the option to have food for at least a week or two, before trying again. When you do try to give him a thawed rodent, give him the chance to take it on his own before trying to force feed.

Alternative

An alternative to feeding F/T mice and rats, is to feed freshly killed rodents. You can purchase the live feeder and flick it at the base of the head or by holding the base of the tail (so the skin doesn't come off), thump the rodent on a hard surface to kill it. By feeding a freshly killed rodent, it will still be twitching, and warm versus a still, thawed rodent. The twitching movement of the rodent will further attract the snake to it. Also, because it's freshly killed it cannot harm your reptile in anyway. Many people, myself included, cannot do this.

Freshly killed rat. My python is trying to find the head. He bit the rat on the back leg; you can see the bite in this picture.
Freshly killed rat. My python is trying to find the head. He bit the rat on the back leg; you can see the bite in this picture.

My Experience

If you're a lucky person who is able to get your reptile to eat a frozen rodent, more power to you! When it comes to my bearded dragon's received a snack, I guess I can be considered one of those people, but when it comes to my ball python... Forget it...

For the first two weeks that I had my ball python, he went without food, as he refused to eat the pinkie mice I had bought him. We tried everything except putting him and the thawed pinkie in a pillowcase (which is another technique to getting a snake to eat F/T). The tuna juice wouldn't work, the hide, or towels. After two weeks, I became worried that my small 12" snake would starve. I bought the smallest live mouse at the petstore, and after an hour, he snatched it. From then on it was live all the way. He has boycotted rats before, and I had to degrade him to mice, but he's back on rats. I'm so worried he'll be bitten again (the first pic is him after being bitten), but worse. I sit and watch him until he fully kills and begins eating the rodent (rat or mice).

If I could, I would definitely switch to frozen feeders, but I've tried since those first two weeks, and he refuses to take any of it.

Update

I would like to add that since this article was written, my ball python has started taking thawed frozen feeder rats. This pleases me greatly, as it is much cheaper than buying live rats every week. Also, I no longer have to watch him kill the live ones. As rats are one of my favorite animals and pets.

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Comments 96 comments

Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 3 years ago from Georgia Author

Unless you're feeding whole chicks, I wouldn't suggest feeding a pet snake the chicken breast you bought at the grocery store.


Maria Cecilia profile image

Maria Cecilia 3 years ago from Philippines

why feed them mice of thawed mice, i guess chicken or dressed chicken will be ok... no problem storing inside the ref since it is a lot pleasant than mice...


snakeluver 3 years ago

Should I feed my snake a pinkie if it is kinda decaying? tho I'm not positive... I REALLY don't want to because I'm scared that she could get sick/die. Plz reply!


Zoe 4 years ago

I don't have a snake yet and am saving for one. I am fully allowed to but my mum/mom isn't sure about keeping dead mice in the freezer. Any tips?


tasha 4 years ago

my snakes not eating its pinkys but how long can i leave it in the tank for?


kaywolf12 4 years ago

i have a western rat snake about 10" long and he/she has a super small mouth can i feed it pinkies or wat??

btw how do u tell if it's a girl or a boy i really wanna know

something funny ^.^


Shaddie profile image

Shaddie 4 years ago from Washington state

I've spent over $300 buying my three Brazilian rainbow boas. They are beautiful works of art, and I would never in a million years consider throwing a living, gnawing, scratching, biting rodent in the mix with them. There's no way I'd risk having those snakes' scales ruined from a rat's destructive teeth. Some scars never go away!

My love for my reptiles keeps them safe because I use frozen/thawed, EVERY time!


gauge 5 years ago

wait so about how long can you keep the mice or rats in the freezer before they go bad?


Azu434 5 years ago

D3: it could be that your niece's snake had mouth rot, or maybe a respiratory infection. often signs of respiratory infection are foamy saliva, troubles breathing, decreased appetite, and bloating. Mouth rot can be a form of fungal, parasitic, bacterial or viral origins. poor husbandry, incorrect temperatures, mites/ticks, poor nutrition can be one or multiple causes contributing to it. Vets are always the best way to find out if anything is wrong.

I've had my snake not eat in 2 months when i first got him but now he eats 2 rat pups f/t every week. I find f/t easier for my life. Snakes can also go extended periods where they fast because of seasonal changes or mating behaviors. i haven't had any problems with him eating since, which i find is lucky. He'll soon be 2yrs and continually growing :)


D3 5 years ago

My niece's snake died had blood coming from mouth didn't eat for almost two weeks, any ideas on what happened?


CO2 5 years ago

People, get real! Snakes eat rodents. That's it. People eat chicken too. The word "humane" is one big fat lie. There's no such thing.Humans kill.And CO2 is not dangerous to the snake.There's no lingering effect. CO2 is a part of our atmosphere and we breathe it out of our lungs all the time. The dry ice is solid CO2 it sublimes directly into gas when heated up to -78'C.


koolpopjones 5 years ago

do whatever it takes to make your snake happy. i've tried the frozen/thawed route and my snake just doesn't like it. Luckily,he's pretty good and striking live prey. ITS OKAY TO FEED LIVE,but just monitor the feedings and make sure the prey is dead. thats all.


Jammy135 5 years ago

Why are some people on this thread even reading it? Its incredibly stupid of them to read an article about feeding mice and then saying its inhumane xD I've heard that some picky snakes can have their food dipped in egg yolk i was wondering if this is just for pythons or if corn snakes can have it too.


shaggy 5 years ago

i have a red tail boa she got bit 3 years in her head the rats teeth went all the way thro she wont touch any thing that she didn't kill so i just let her do her own thing


Phoenix Borealis 5 years ago

I really don't see that much of a difference between pre-killed and live prey (other than the obvious safety issue). The only difference between the two is that we don't see the pre-killed prey die. It happens behind closed doors. But that doesn't change the fact that it still happens. It's not like you're eliminating an animal's death by making sure that someone else has killed it. It just means that it has happened before its time of use. I have a pet hairless rat and a pet feeder mouse (that my brother's snake refused to eat). I love my pets and would do anything for them, but unfortunately they can't all be lucky like mine were. Some become pets; some become prey. If you can't handle playing a part in the aspects of "prey," steer cler of animals that warrant it for their own survival.


Mike 5 years ago

so I have a Caye Caulker boa that is acting real strange. He won't eat F/T mice or rats, wouldn't eat live baby rats, basically won't eat something unless it is running around. Anyhow, went to feed today and put him in a box to feed and he has been wrapping his face with his tail tip. He killed the mouse without any problems and nos seems totally disinterested. Being as this is a site on feeding dead mice, I'm hoping someone a) knows what is up with the wrapping his face and squeezing himself, and b) how to get him to eat both the mouse he just killed and F/T mice in the future.


kingRose 5 years ago

At school i help care for a mexican black king, he is full grown with a bad attitude. We typicaly feed him warmed frozen mice(we cant find rats in the area). He gets about 3 mice a week(3" mice) plus one live mouse(very small) a month. He tends to perffer the live but its dangerous and we know it. we only feed him live because he will stop eating frozen for a few weeks after reciveing frozen. I normaly will try to at least find fresh kill but the stores dont always do that. Today marks his last day with live. He slipped up and grabed the tail of the mouse and the mouse grabbed his side. The mouse did no damage but i will be killing any live mice from now on with a chamber kill. the way he killed thismouse was weird to me. He held tight to the tail and then clamped(not coiled) his body around the mouse and then folded it in half effectivly breaking its spine. The other students were not to parshil. He held this for about 5 minutes and even pulled the tail while streching the neck. It was unneccesary for the mouse to die that way so i will no longer feed live.


Unknown 5 years ago

I don't have a Ball Python let; I just reading up. Helpful info!!! :)


denise 5 years ago

You hippies are stupid... do you think those frozen mice/ rats were born dead? No.. they were also killed. A responsible reptile owner looks out for their their pets preference.


slick 5 years ago

I've had my ball for a month now,captive bred,8 months old,he's only been fed live,the pet store a purchased slick from said I should use the thump method,I don't have a problem doing this since I tend to take the side of the frozen's were once alive,I even say a prayer for the feeder,anyway,my question is,wouldn't live be better,or freshly killed?I don't want slick to be injured,but I feel feeding him frozen would be in comparison to us eating a thawed tv dinner,as opposed to a freshly cooked piece of deer meat,are there preservatives in frozen mice?


josefina 5 years ago

my snake eats live rodents and I love to see her hunt. I have never had her be able to eat frozen. my snake is my pet, my friend, my son. I am a show girl and my snake is with me all the time so I feed him the best.


DLW 5 years ago

Three feedings ago my corn snake ate two small mice. The last 2 feedings it only ate one. I feed once a week. How long should I leave the second mouse in with my snake? They are not live mice by the way - frozen, thawed. Also, how consistently should my snake be eating 2 mice before moving up a size? Thanks


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 5 years ago from Georgia Author

The snake will not starve. By waiting it out a few weeks, she should take the F/T otherwise try tuna juice or another method to entice her to the f/t.

Some snakes, though, just won't change to f/t after being fed live for so long. It doesn't hurt to be persistent though.


Sunshine's Mom 5 years ago

We just got our snake last week. She is 2 years old. We tried feeding her a thawed frozen mouse last weekend and she would not take it and showed no interest in it. We tried wiggling it, dangling it and making it jump-nothing. I left the mouse in the cage overnight and it was ignored. She hasn't eaten for almost 3 weeks now. A friend who is an experienced snake owner told me that she will eat when she becomes hungry enough but I can't help thinking that this is cruel to leave her hungry. I just found out that she was a live fed snake for 2 years, this was after I tried the frozen. Any suggestions on getting her switched from live to frozen would be GREATLY appreciated. Thanks!


burmese owner 6 years ago

i have had many snakes my first a corn and over the years i have had royals boas and now a burmese. The natural instinct of rodents when cornered is to fight. If your snake misses the first strike it can quickly become the food, all snake sites say if you cant get a steady supply of rodents dont get the snake. It may be personal preference but when your pet is being attacked by a rodent you'll quickly wish it was f/t


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

I'm perfectly aware of what you have said in regards to feeders losing nutritional value. They actually loose value after about 6 months. I order mine from a good supplier online who freezes a few days before shipping them to you.

Not all snakes grow the same.

She wasn't suffering, or doesn't sound like she was suffering.


Lisa 6 years ago

I didn't push growth on her I was just wanting her to grow normally... All the other baby corns that I have watched grow never stayed as small as she did for so long.

Also if you had read this properly you would have read that the longer they are frozen the more nutrition they loose. So as they also stated you have to have a reputable place to get your f/t feeders from. My story would be one of those that at least for a long period of time I didn't have any f/t feeders that had enough nutrition. When you live in a rural area where most everyone is amazed you even have a snake let alone 4 of them you won't have any pet stores either. in fact the nearest pet store is 2 cities away in one direction and 5 cities in another. Finally in the town next to me they have a once a month reptile get together that all reptile owners in that area can get their supplies.

I have not changed my habits since it started as both babies like the routine that they are on. They are my babies and what they want they get... lol but seriously after her having so much trouble I cannot bring myself to do anything less as I don't want her to ever suffer again... (should it happen again)


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Corn snakes are cannibalistic, and you risk one snake eating the other. Don't push growth, as this is unhealthy. I have snakes that have been raised on F/T feeders, and they have grown normally and grown just fine. I actually have three that are this way. They have grown just the same as my BP who will only eat live.


LIsa 6 years ago

I got my corn snake as a baby and fed her frozen pinkies while my husband was feeding his adult corn live mice. I noticed that she was not growing like my husband's snake. After 6 months of this and she only shed once and only grew a 1/2 inch I switched her to live pinkies whenever available (about twice a week once a month) and frozen the rest of the time. Needless to say my baby started growing and quickly. After 6 months of this routine she is finally able big enough to be in the same cage as my husbands adult.

I guess my point is that you never know with frozen if you are giving your snake enough nutrition. So now unless our snakes are too small we feed live (between all of us in our house we now own 4 snakes). My corn is almost ready for regular mice so she will soon be on full live mice leaving one baby on this diet of mostly frozen and occasionally live.

Now as to freshly killed well for our Ball python that doesn't work too well.. as everyone says they are picky eaters... When we switched him to rats as the mice were too small we were also worried about him getting hurt. So we would stun the rat before feeding it to him. Unfortunately, as i am sure you all are aware, if you hit them too hard it kills them. He didn't touch it and looked at us like "are you nuts! I don't want this now that you have ruined my food!" It was kinda comical. So like someone above mentioned we watch as he eats.

I am not telling anyone what to do or what to believe when it comes to the decision of live or f/t. I am just sharing my own experience with both. Everyone's experiences can be different based on first the snake and second what is available and last the quality that is available.


Jennifer 6 years ago

Dear Anita, you must not realize that death is part of life for predators. What's it matter, if it's a quick kill? That's how predators do it - one bite to the back of the neck and then instant, painless death. Feeding frozen-thawed is not as natural to the snake, or any creature, for that matter. Perhaps it is you, who shouldn't own any pets, because obviously you must think predators NEVER hunt and kill their prey. They must hunt to survive. Much like our ancestors once did. So your bloodlines run just as clear with "cruelty" as do the predators.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

All animals can bite. It's a matter of taming, if possible. Corn snakes are fairly docile snakes, that are considered pretty good beginner snakes. The pain will depend on the size of the snake and your pain tolerance.


lisa 6 years ago

heyya, im getting my first snake soon, its a corn snake, i was just wondering if snakes bite much? and if it hurts alot? im 15 lol


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

I'm glad that I could help.


Jessie 6 years ago

Alright, thank you so much! Also your article had a lot of great advice for new and old snake keepers. I know not all the people were happy about how you were giving advice on how to kill or paralyze live feeders but every reptile owner needs to know this just in case they wont eat the F/T. I also showed some of my friends who wanted to own a snake but weren't sure about the feeding and they thought this was very helpful!


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

Some people just let the frozen feeder sit out to room temperature, which can take a while before thawing larger feeders. I prefer to use hot water. Depending on how large the feeder and how hot the water, it may take a few minutes to properly thaw out. It is possible that the snake will eat the F/T. Just get it really hot, and do whatever you did when feeding the dead mice. You may have to dry it off, but give it a try.


Jessie 6 years ago

So I have been feeding my ball python live mice that have been thumped for the last 5 yrs but I always had my dad thump them for me and well I just can't do it hard enough the first try and want to switch my snake back to frozen like we tried yrs ago. Now since this is my first time using frozen mice, how long does it usually take to have it be fully thawed and warm enough that the snake would eat it? We think he will eat them because last time I went to feed him live mice, they died in the car during the 10 minute drive home from the heat. (I have no ac and had all my windows open) And well he ate those, so would he eat the frozen since he ate those mice with no problem? I'm just kinda done trying to thump the mice and having an eye always pop out when we thump.


Binky 6 years ago

the to feed live or not to feed live?

in zoo's there are rules about live feeding.

it comes down to the animal that is being used as the food. if you put a live rat/mouse in a snake tank and the animal is not imeadiately eatten the animal suffers from stress because it can not escape the predetor it smells. so its not the same as in the wild.

if you must live feed your snake, give the snake a time limit to eat it in. if it doesn't remove the mouse from the enclosure.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

You can leave it in overnight. Throw it away if it's not eaten. They are not good if fully thawed and the re-froze.


kimberly 6 years ago

how long should I leave the frozen/thawed rat in the cage before I take it out and should I freeze the rat again if the snake did not take it???


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

He needs a larger prey item more than likely. You can feed as large as the widest girth on the snake. You can offer two fuzzies if you'd like, and if that's what you've got on hand to use up inventory. You can offer one, let him eat it, and then offer the other once the first is down.


slick 6 years ago

First time feeding my ball python since i got him(2 weeks ago, he shed perfectly 3 days ago)... He's 1.5 feet long male, and approx 8 month old(or so i've been told by his previous owner). I put a f/t fuzzy in a zipper bag and dipped it in hot water for a couple of minutes. He got it right away. He had it at the start of the night, and i noticed that after about 2 hours there was quite a bit of movement in the vivarium. Is that normal after he had his dinner or is it the case that a fuzzy is too small for him as he swallowed it quite easy and fast and he's normally bigger that the size of the fuzzy. If that's so, then should i feed him 2 fuzzys(and how?) and how long do i have to wait(if at all) to offer him the second one? I know there is larger pray available, but don't know exactly if he's ready for it and it might be few weeks before i can get any.


Nelson32 6 years ago

Istarted my snakes on frozen mice, optional black or white and they have always eaten. Even when they have turned their nose up for a month or so, i've only ever offered frozen re-heated and eventually they take.

I would never feed live. They will eat eventually, even if I have to at extremely rare times, especially with my very shy milk snake, cut the mouse for the snake to smell the blood.


Jenn 6 years ago

Wow controversial subject....all I was looking for was help humanly killing rats for my snake...

Miles dear...you just went adamantly in the opposite direction from the people you are disgusted with...

We can love all animals and yet be on the fence in this rat killing debate none the less and one doesn't need to lose all respect for the feelings of the furry just because they are a reptile enthusiast....Damn people lets all just live in peace!

...and in fact I do often think of the cow that gave itself to make my burger taste so yummy..I'm sorry that that cows feelings are ignored just because it was destin for slaughter. I think those that give for us deserve it more than any..


Scott 6 years ago

I came across this while looking for ways to switch my seven year old Ball to f/t. He doesn't like it, at all, because I've fed him fresh pre-killed rats exclusively for his entire life. My comment for this is about pre-killing and the ways I've done it.

1) The whack against a hard surface method works well if the rat isn't a fighter.

2) Put the rat in a pillow case and whack it against your front porch. Don't do it too hard or the rat might split open but, that's only happened to me once. The trick, like #1, is doing it hard enough to kill the first time. It takes practice.

3) The homemade gas chamber. All you need it a big zipper baggie, a container big enough for the prey, a large diameter aquarium hose, baking soda, and vinegar. I like to use at least half a small box of baking soda. Put the baking soda in a bowl and enough vinegar to activate it all in a cup, then put them both in the zipper bag. Put the hose in and seal it up as tightly as possible without cutting the circulation. Put the prey and the other end of the hose in your container (a tea pitcher works well) and leave the top cracked so the CO2 can replace the O2. Activate about 1/4-1/3 of the baking soda to knock the prey out and then finish the dose. Done properly there's almost no trauma to the prey and the dirty deed is over in a few minutes.

For the record, my wife and I owned pet rats for the last five years. You just have to learn how to separate food for your snake from your pets.

Also, it's better to feed rats to a BP because one rat more nutritious than a few mice. It also helps them stretch and grow.


Miles 6 years ago

The very first comment in this thread was from Anita, dated two years ago, who admonished you for advocating killing the prey prior to feeding.

I want to address the concerns of people like her.

I HAVE killed rodents prior to feeding them to snakes, and I've found two useful ways to do this. Either put the animal in a ziploc baggie, roll it up tight and put it ion the freezer. The animal suffocates as it would if being killed by the snake, but without the trauma. The other way is to hold it firmly by the tail and strike its head against the edge of the table. If you do this right, death is instantaneous because the neck is broken.

(For the record, mass-market frozen feed distributors put batches of animals into a chamber and fill it with carbon dioxide (CO2 gas). The animals die without shock, trauma or injury.

Is it humane to kill the animal? I have two thoughts here. One, cats naturally kill mice too - and they play with their prey before finally killing it. The snakes way is really more efficient and less traumatic for the prey.

My other thought is that if you were concerned about the humane aspect of feeding your pet, you wouldn't have an animal that eats meat. Dogs, cats, snakes, tarantulas, even goldfish, all require the meat of another animal to survive.

If that's your worry, go buy an herbivorous animal like a rabbit or a horse.

Did you agonize over the cow that gave his life for your hamburger?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

You are actually at higher risk of the snake taking out the instinct on you. When used to eating moving things, the snake can potentially be more prone to lunging at your moving hand.


Live feeder 6 years ago

I love feeding my snake live rabbits. he has an instinct to eat live animals, and i would much rather him take his instinct out on a rabbit than on me, seeing as how he is 15ft long and could easly kill me.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

If you're not keen on feeding rodents, I wouldn't suggest a snake. As for frozen, not all breeders feed frozen and no wholesaler feeds frozen (which is where most pet store reptiles come from). If the BP isn't used to feeding frozen, you'll have to get it used to it. Most BPs are captive now days, but that doesn't mean anything if the breeder/wholesaler/petstore/etc didn't start the snake on F/T. You can convert a live eater to F/T but it takes work.


Marriah 6 years ago

Hi Whitney,

I am very interesting in getting a ball python. However, after reading this, the possibility of the snake not taking the frozen rodents freaks me out. I think I will have trouble feeding the snake frozen rodents, let alone any living. So that for me is simply out. How often, in your experience, does a ball python not take to eating the frozen food? Also, wouldn't ball pythons who are captive bred be more suseptible to eating frozen?

Thanks


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 6 years ago from Georgia Author

I have not heard of that. Generally, they are sold frozen unless you have a CO2 chamber and plan on killing your own. Generally, you don't want them frozen longer than 6 months, so as for how long after killing with CO2, I'm not sure. I have never heard of illness caused by lingering gases, but I don't doubt that is a potential problem.


MouseLover 6 years ago

I have heard that reptiles who are fed rodents killed with co2 can potentially become sick due to the lingering effect of the gas. I have also heard that freezing the rodent prior to feeding will help. Have you ever heard of this? Is it better to freeze the rodent "just in case"? If so how long should it be frozen before consumption?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

I wouldn't really feed large rats to a corn snake. In many cases, medium can be too large. It's better to go smaller than larger. Get smaller rats instead of larger.


Chris 7 years ago

Hi whitney, today i went to get some medium rats for my 2 year old corn but all they had was a large (about 3/4 of a foot) i am worried incase he attempts to eat this and hurts himself, what would you do? store owner saidto cut the damn thing in half but i dont really fancy having rat guts allover my room


Brandon 7 years ago

I feed my snake f/t small rats but you better bet that if he refused to eat a f/t then I wouldn't think twice about feeding him a live or at least a live stunned rat


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Snakes in captivity have nowhere to go when feeding live prey. Just look at the link below to see what happens when you feed live. You are leaving your snake at high risk of injury from larger prey. Even small snakes and smaller prey can cause injury or death.

http://geckoforums.net/showthread.php?t=49710


Brandon 7 years ago

To all that say it is so inhumane to feed a live rat to a snake is just crazy. Number one, If there was a rat that hadn't do you think he wouldn't try to eat you and could care less if it's inhumane. It's a rodent that has a purpos to eat and be eaten. That's it's basic life. No matter how the rat is killed it is still dead one way or another. Now no I don't think you should just kill an animal to kill an animal but when you have a snake and you have to choose let my snake die or let the rodent be killed by my very beautiful Tiger retic. I choose to let the stupid rodent be killed. It happens in the wild so stop thinking it's inhumane to help do something that happens everyday in the wild.


John 7 years ago

Feeding a snake a live animal is highly inapproproate behaviour, and in places such as the UK is illegal. Those caught doing it face legal sanctions, such as a fine, imprisonment, a ban on keeping animals and a criminal record. In many cases, the "thrill" of watching reptiles hunt a powerless "feeder" animal thrown into the confines of a herpetarium indicates a developing or developed psychopathic personality disorder. There is an entire youtube culture revolving around ever more cruel and grotesue ways of feeding prey to animals (live rats being thrown into piranha tanks for example).

So don't do it.

Most reptiles will accept humanely killed prey, which should be killed by a professional, not by banging the animal on a table ledge. If your pet won't take humanely killed prey, this is because it is not a domestic animal, and you should consider buying a cat and admiring the snake in its natural environment.


ZooSnakes 7 years ago

Working in the reptile area of a zoo we used to feed live. However, because it is not fair to the mouse to be trapped in the cage without a chance and the potential harm that can be done to the reptile we have made the swith to F/T. It is cheaper too! We do have some retiles that had problems with the thawed and we quickly found out that it has a lot to do with the temperature of the food. Since many snake use heat pits along their jawline to find food in the wild, room temperature prey just doesn't work. You can find online or at many pet stores heat lamps. Lay the mouse/rat under the lamp after thawing it for a little while to warm it up. This has made a huge difference!


CarnivoresRus 7 years ago

People like Anita are myopic. Something has to die to feed most pets. Just because it is kibble, doesn't mean there wasn't a chicken that went into it. Duh! And remember, the frozen mice were ALIVE at one time!


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Consider F/T it'll cut down movement. Ball pythons are the world's worst feeder, yet because of they're temperament are considered good beginner snakes. In terms of feeding and diet, I wouldn't necessarily consider them great for beginners.


aarenchan 7 years ago

well we went to a shop that specialized in reptiles and amphibians and they said that we should be giving him rat fuzzies. They are about the size of a mouse hopper, but my snake doesn't like his food being too active so we thought the rat fuzzies would be better. He wont eat unless it has been over 2 weeks since he last ate. I know they can go that long and be fine but I hear a lot of people saying to feed them once a week. This is my first snake so im kind of new to how they act. I've had many other kinds of pets before but none of them have every refused food. I know I might be over reacting but he's my baby and I love him, I want him to be healthy.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

As long as the snake is eating and is not losing weight it should be fine. What size are you feeding and how often do you think the snake needs to eat?


aarenchan 7 years ago

I have a ball python and he is still young. maybe about a year old. He doesn't like frozen so we have been giving him live but sometimes he still doesn't eat them! I dont know what to do and I have been worried about him. He does eat but not as often as i think he should. Is there anything that you think would help get him to eat?


Art 7 years ago

It's funny all the comments about feeding F/T vs Live. Yes I have raised all sorts of rodents for food and pets. Rats are really smart. With that said. Do you know how they kill the rats and mice before they freeze them? They suffocate them with Co2. Alot of the time with dry ice. So not only do they have a "humane" death by suffocation. They also get to freeze. I had to kill a rat recently for my bull snake. I can promiss you I killed him alot more humane than freezing. Oh one more thing if you have a problem with the food chain. DON'T GET ANIMALS THAT PREY ON OTHER ANIMALS!!!! Duh!


Cerena 7 years ago

As a person who owns plenty of pet rats, I have to tell you all that they are the sweetest animals I've ever owned. They are extremeley affectionate and loving. I know that snakes have to eat, so if you HAVE to feed your snake, please buy the frozen food. A rat gets scared when put into a snake cage and it is pure terror for them. They are like little dogs, very intelligent and caring. I'm not being a crazy anti snake person, but please don't feel your snakes LIVE animals. Its just inhumane.

-Cerena


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

I believe I have mentioned these options in my hub about feeding Ball Pythons, and how picky they can be.


Everyday Miracles profile image

Everyday Miracles 7 years ago from Indiana, USA

I haven't read all of the comments, but mouse droppings rubbed on a thawed rodent can help palatability for your reptile. If you have a pet mouse or rat, use the bedding and this can help to get the snake or lizard to eat.

As I stated in one of my reptile hubs, however, Royal pythons can be picky. We lost two to food issues, one because it wasn't started properly. The best cure is prevention!


radar357 profile image

radar357 7 years ago

To this day i can never forgive myself for putting a live junbo rat in with my 12 year old boa. Could only find one large rat in the county, and it was live. Always fed f/t. to her. Needless to say i did not stick around to monitor the feeding. When i got home i found my boas intestines hanging out of a gapping hole in her belly. And the rat munching away on some part of her inerds. Still alive i took her to a vet, but she could not be saved. Still chokes me up to this day 20 years later. Now i keep my freezer stocked with rodents purchased from a reputable breeder. Now if i purchase a live rodent i just invite the ex over to bitch em to death__lol.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

What is wrong with the snake?


Nagini's mommy 7 years ago

I agree stupid people like Anita can stick where the sun doesn't shine, it's the circle of life. But I have a question, I gave Nagini a bath & wrapped her on a towel to dry & she ate the towel. She is 7ft & 3yrs old. Is my baby going to die without surgery? Cause it's $2400.00 Please tell me what to do mrscgstevens at aol


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

He is actually a very good guy. He no longer has the snakes because they were getting very aggressive towards him and his girlfriend. They are now with more experienced keepers.It wasn't to watch them feed and watch an animal suffer but more towards just feeding them. They kept a few of the feeders as pets (weren't bred just solely pets).

I do prefer frozen, but on occasion my BP won't eat frozen to save his life, so he gets live once in a while, and I can't watch though. I wish I could get him constant is F/T feeders. That is the main reason I like my rosies better; constant F/T feeders.


Dwight 7 years ago

Whitney - I'm glad you feed your reptiles frozen instead of live. As a fellow rat owner, they are wonderful animals, highly intelligent, and very loving. I understand what you are trying to do here and I appreciate it. My issue in general is with the sadistic people that enjoy seeing animals suffer and life destroyed. Who in their right mind enjoys watching a snake kill and eat a rat??

The fact that your boyfriend's friend named his snake Natas (Satan spelled backwards) tells me everything I need to know about him and why he has a snake.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

In many cases, feeding frozen is not the matter of feeding another animal, but feeding safely as live rodents can be dangerous to a snake. I've seen live jumbo rats break ribs on burmese pythons. It's just not pretty. But, like you said, if you don't lke the idea of feeding an animal in any form to another animal, then find another pet.


ben 7 years ago

so here's a question for oyu? how did the frozen mice that you buy become frozen? someone killed them... why would it be any more or less humane to kill a mouse and/or rat that is bred to be killed versus one that was bred to be kept as a pet? what they were bred for doesn't make them different animals, the only difference is that someone deemed one to be sold at a higher price as a pet, and another to be sold at a lower price as a feeder, and then a third at an ever lower price as a frozen feeder, and yes someone did kill it in order for it be frozen for your self righteous pleasure. if you're that adamant about rodents not being killed, then don't own something that requires them to be killed in order to stay around. i get that some people cant bring themselves to do it and that's a personal preference, i have absolutely no argument with that whatsoever. but don't act like you're better than someone else who feeds "pre-killed live rodents" you're feeding the same exact freaking thing, yours has just been dead longer.

that argument is nothing more than a hypocritical moral gray area. get off your soap boxes people.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

It's only been two weeks. Give it time. If they claim the snake was eating frozen, then stick with that. Typically, all you have to do is just thaw the mouse in just hot water; you don't need to put it in the fridge.

Sometimes it will take reptiles an adjustment period, which can alter feeding habits.

Plus, coming from a pet store you really never know what you're getting.


HAKS 7 years ago

Ive had a BP for two weeks, and hes not eating... the pet store i got him from said they were feeding him frozen adult mice. I had a BP many years ago that ate live mice and i NEVER had a problem feeding her. she also never got hurt. My question is perhaps im going about feeding her the wrong way? ill thaw the mouse in the fridge overnight then warm it up in some warm water, the first time i tried feeding him, i dangled the mouse in front of his cave for about 15 mins, until my arm got to sore, then i just left the mouse in there for about and hour.. he never ate it.. i tried warming it up a little bit again, then i picked his cave up off on him to get his attention and yet again nothing.. this week i went straight for taking the cave out and dangling the mouse there and still nothing... so i just left it in the cage.., im startting to wonder if i should switch him to live mice... any suggestions?


gecko beans 7 years ago

to ibuhalo,

most rats you see in pet stores were not intended on being pets, they were most likely bred to be breeders for food, and wouldn't breed, or are not 'fancy' enough to be for show. The same go for any other pet you see in the stores. They are the animals uaualy unwanted by the breeders, and were only made because someone wanted income.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

Reptiles aren't like dogs and don't really associate one thing with another from what I've noticed, but if he hit the glass or something it may make him weary f it. Give him some time, and try again with a smaller thawed rat or something Also consider leaving the thawed rat in the cage/feeding area for a while.


Huge mistake 7 years ago

Hey, guys, I know some people are going to majorly disapprove of what I'm about to say but here it goes...my snake grew up eating live mice for two years and then I switched to frozen rats once he was big enough..well before feeding him a frozen one afternoon, I guess i let my guard down and he bit me...well my reflexes caused me to kinda "pop" him back...i know, i know...it was instincts...what sucks is that once i tried to feed him the frozen that day he did not eat and after trying to feed him two weeks later he still wont eat it...have i caused him to to associate frozens with pain or something...how can i get him to eat again?


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 7 years ago from Georgia Author

He could probably eat frozen-thawed fuzzies. You just want to stick with no larger than the widest girth of the snake. I would stick with smaller until you can successfully get the snake eating frozen, as it will be much harder to attempt to forcefeed a mouse versus a thawed-frozen fuzzy.


kevin 7 years ago

ive had a ball python for about 2 weeks... id say he is about 14 inches long and the pet store says feed him frozen pinkies but he isn't eating them so today i force fed him.what could i do to get him to eat? he could probly eat mice but i haven't tried them yet


Snakester 8 years ago

For all those who think it is cruel to feed live (although ALL my reptiles are on froze/thawed) snakes in the wild WILL NOT take carrion - only food they've killed themselves. As for it being illegal in the UK to feed live - it is ONLY illegal IF you turn the feeding into a 'side show' - ie. inviting others to watch - Reptile breeder/keeper of over thirty years experience


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 8 years ago from Georgia Author

It's going to be much harder for you to switch the snake over to frozen. You want to start frozen now before it gets too late and it will be harder to switch he snake over.


Christoph 8 years ago

Got my ball about 1 month ago, at the time I tried everything from dipping it into chicken brother to throwing the two of them in a pillow case(The mouse and the snake :x) We had to force feed her 4 times... Then I tried a small live mouse and she took it within 15 seconds! Ever since then I have been feeding her live mice and as she gets older and will eventually move to rats I plan to feed her more mice and no rats, that way she can have 2 meals per week and not any rats.. Although I do plan to try and move her to frozen because it is better for the snake(Injury wise) However, I wonder if they would rather hunt live prey or eat it frozen without the thrill of the hunt? If I could I would move her to frozen right now but my latest attempt, she still didn't take it so I am going to try some more methods to convert her in the coming weeks.


Niko 8 years ago

i have a 4 month all python. I have never had a problem with feeding it since i got it. i started feeding it live mice until about 2 weeks ago he got bit in the eye by a large mouse. i didn't want my snake to get hurt anymore so i fed it f/t. he ate it nooo problem and now i have been doing some research about feed snakes f/t and it makes more sense to feed frozen thawed. once your snake gets severely hurt, you will learn your leason


ibuhalo 8 years ago

My favorite argument is when people say that of course it is OK to feed live rodents to snakes, because snakes eat live rodents in the wild. Well, then let the snake go after some wild rats, it would do our cities some good. It IS inhumane to feed Pet (or fancy) rats live to rodents, or to bring them home and kill them for that purpose. It is inhumane to go to a store like PetSmart or Petco and buy the rats that are bred to be PETS and then use them as food. Believe me, rats are so smart and affectionate, they are like little dogs, and it is sickening to think someone would take a pet rat that is probably happy and excited about its new home, and throw it into a snake tank.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 8 years ago from Georgia Author

You can try putting the head of the fuzzy in the python's mouth. Ball pythons are very picky eaters.


Ashley 8 years ago

My family and I have a 4 ft. red tail boa and a hatchling ball python. Our boa is eating f/t very well. Our python has not eaten since we brought it home almost 3 weeks ago. We even dipped the f/t fuzzy in the "juice" off of the f/t medium rat (Out of the ziploc bag that we were thawing it in) that we were feeding the boa. We have left the prey in the enclosure overnight (we use newspaper), wiggling the prey in front of it, and when we thaw we heat it basically as warm as we can safely get it. I'm starting to think that our only option will be to try live and then to convert.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 8 years ago from Georgia Author

You can try some of the times that I mentioned above. Try tuna juice, wiggling the thawed mouse. try sticking it in his mouth, sometimes that'll get them to take. Try leaving the boiling hot mouse in a small container with the snake. Try leaving the mouse in the tank throughout the nice, as long as you aren't using a wood shaving bedding; for this case, it's best to put the mouse in the tank at night before bed.


benny 8 years ago

hey i have been trying to feed my ball python with frozen mices and he dont eat it how i can do to teach hem how to eat them


hbair profile image

hbair 8 years ago from Boston, MA

All my cornsnake gets is pre-frozen, thawed rodents. Even if she COULD take live (she seems to have difficulty understanding that food can in fact move), I wouldn't be able to bring myself to do it. Its cruel to the rodent, and there is too much risk to her.

I do have a tip though... To get difficult animals to eat pre-killed, soak it in hot water until its at body temperature. If they wont take the mouse or rat, wait until the next week to feed. After thawing, dip the rodent in chicken broth. It sounds crazy, but it works nine times out of ten!!

Good luck all!!


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 8 years ago from Georgia Author

Ravyn, I'm actually ok with live mice, but I can't do live rats. Use to be able to, but can't anymore. I've been lucky to get my BP on frozen mice. He used to heat frozen rats, but he prefers the mice. Once a month or so, I do give him a live mouse.


RavynSteel profile image

RavynSteel 8 years ago from North Wales

*agrees with SnakeMommy* Feeding live or fresh bait to snakes is not something I could do - not because i'm squeamish but because it's actually illegal in the UK - but I do believe it's good for the snake as it gives them a little variety - like mostly feeding mice and now and again the occasional rat. And Anita, you disagree with Whitney's description of how to kill the rodents...culling them is a lot more humane than putting a little mouse in with a big snake and letting it be killed - like what happens in nature. It's the food chain - fact of life.


SnakeMommy 8 years ago

Anita, were you a bit more educated you would take your agrument and put it where the sun doesn't shine. :) This is a good article with useful information. Thanks.


Whitney05 profile image

Whitney05 9 years ago from Georgia Author

The entire article is about feeding frozen mice, rats, and other feeders to snakes. I am in no way condoning feeding live feeders, but sometimes you do what you have to in order to feed a snake. Some snakes refuse to eat thawed feeders. Some snakes refuse to eat freshly killed feeders. Are you supposed to starve a snake becuase it won't eat thawed? Some snakes will get very stressed if you force feed. As a pet parent, you do what you have to do, and if that means feeding live, then you must. I do not condone it, and always recommend trying frozen first. And, again, this article is NOT about killing rats or telling the world to feed live feeders, but the PROS of feeding FROZEN!

I would like to say that I am a GREAT pet parent to all my scaley and furry children. I do have PET rats as well as snakes, and love them both equally. My pets are my children, and everyone of them gets loving attention as well as the best that I can afford.


Anita 9 years ago

What is wrong with you? Live feeding is bad enough, but them you are telling people how to kill the rodents? Jesus christ!!!! You dont just bang the animal on a table or flick the base of its skull. People like you shoulsnt have animals at all. God forbid someone takes your advice and breeds their own feeders. You people that live feed just suck ass.

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