So, as my animals grow and food becomes more expensive, I have considered the potential need to raise my own feeders. I know some of you have been in the game alot longer than me, so my question is what has been your experience? Does breeding your own feeders actually save money? Or is it just one more enterprise to have to pay attention to with minimal benefit?
I don’t breed anything.
Assuming you mean rats etc.
But I know a few people who do and they cull themselves etc and obviously it’s saving them a lot of money! They have quite a decent amount of mouths to feeds so works out well for them
It looks like its a large initial investment, but it seems the cost of raising your own is less than buying them, im also reading if extra are produced, they can pay for themselves and feed the snakes. I just wanted to see if anyone here has done it, or if its just a “good idea fairy” thing.
They also sell a lot on too as always got them breeding… Honestly some of them have hundreds
Ive ran a 6 level ars 70 rat rack for a couple years now. I have 20 Boas that eat quite well. I produce a surplus in the nicer parts of the year and my 2 boys tend them, getting the profit from surplus sales. It also pays for the mazuri 6f and bedding. The initial investment sucks but it’s well worth it if you have a decent number of animals to feed.
But yes the initial start up will cost you but eventually depending on the amount you have you’ll be saving money and can potentially sell any others on and make it also.
I have 28 animals currently, so by my estimates i should need to produce at least 56 rats a month to maintain, which i imagine would be a good number of breeding pairs. I was looking at these 2 options, but one says grow out and the other says breeder. Do you need both? Or would the growout function as a breeder as well? I know in high numbers the males can get… fighty… ill definitely need to look up proper care, but if im going to go for the investment, i want to be sure i have the ability to do it correctly. I dont want the animals to suffer neglect, even if they are feeders, i want their life to be enjoyable.
EDIT: Forgot to put up the pictures -_-
Giving them good care to me comes with raising them, you’ll likely find them personable and enjoyable to interact with. We give ours different treats like dried corn, chopped vegetables etc. They don’t get them a bunch, but i try to give it to them a handful of times a month.
As long as you don’t overcrowd them I haven’t noticed much fighting among grow outs. I recently picked up a stock tank that I intend to make my grow out so i can freeze more larges as my hold backs get older.
Sorry, i forgot to actually put up the 2 options i was talking about haha. I was also debating whether to do ASFs or regular rats. I dont know if the cair is all that different. On the one hand, I hear ASFs are like catnip to BPs, on the other hand, i hear switching off of them is difficult, and i dont want to set my future buyers up for failure… im not sure if i should just go woth ASFs since they are harder to find, meaning id be helping people local to me, or go regular rats so my buyers dont run into feeding issues…
@akmorphs i see you have experience with ASFs, any words of wisdom / caution? Recommendations? Ive been reading a bit on your website, and looks like 3 colonies would average to what i need if i went ASFs. But considering its what you do, id love to hear from your personal experience!
I thought I better clarify, my 6 level rack is a custom made one with 6 tubs total. So you will likely be able to get by feeding 28 ball pythons with 2 levels of the rodent racks from ars or freedom breeder.
What is the material you have on top of each level out of curiosity
The rack is made of 1" aluminum tubing with 1/2" hardware cloth. Like you’d see on the majority of wooden racks. I debated building a 2nd one with expanded metal like you find on the ars/fb racks but have found this rack works beautifully with the hardware cloth instead.
I meant the rock looking things haha. Are those to weigh it down?
Those are mazuri rodent chow.
Ohhh, is it grated so they can nibble on the chow? Or how does that work?
Ah! Im surprised they cant chew through it, but i guess if needs are met, they wouldnt really have a need
I’ve been breeding feeder rats for the last year or two using lab style caging on a wire rack. I have 9 tubs and use 500ml water bottles that reptile basics make.
Unfortunately the price on the tubs has more than doubled since I bought them before covid. One thing that is nice about them versus an entire rack is if I decide to not breed for whatever reason they can be stacked inside each other and stored taking up minimal space. I use water bottles instead of a water line system with a reservoir and with only 9 tubs I’ve found it very simple and quick to keep them full. Less than 5 minutes once a day I walk them over to my sink and fill them up. With this watering setup I never have to worry about floods. If I had double or triple the amount of tubs I’d want to start considering a water line / reservoir setup though. A downside to the bottles is I can’t leave for more than a day or two for a vacation etc without having someone come fill them for me.
I am lucky to have a tractor supply store and a feed store less than 10 minutes from me for bedding and feed. For bedding I use pine “pelletized bedding” as a bottom layer with a thin layer of aspen on top. Initially I used only pelletized bedding but I found as they urinated it would become very messy with loose sawdust like consistency and wasn’t great for nursing mothers trying to create a nest. The top layer of aspen also helps with smell. I keep them in my house and have actually found the smell to be not bad at all. They only start to stink if I let the cage go too long and by that time the pelletized pine has raised up to nearly the level of the water bottle and it has to be changed out. We have two ferrets and they small far worse than the entire colony of rats. For feed my local feed store carries FRM rodent diet, which is cheaper than mazuri. I think I pay $17 for a big bag of it compared to $30+ for mazuri. I’ve seen numerous breeders say they prefer it over mazuri so it’s what I’ve always used and I’m happy with it.
I change bedding out at varied rates depending on how many rats are in the tub. Some will need every 3 to 4 days, some will need every 7 to 10 days.
There are two general schools of thought when it comes to a breeding system. Colony breeding or heirloom breeding. With heirloom breeding the mothers are separated into their own personal tub when raising the babies. With colony breeding a number are put together to raise them together. I’ve found that many mothers will have strong instincts and take other moms babies. That mom then ends up with too many babies to maintain and some will die. It is surprising how much will be lost in colony type breeding. So I strive to put only one pregnant mom in her own tub and raise her babies for 2 to 3 weeks before I combine them to minimize loss. I am definitely sold on the “heirloom” style breeding for this reason and when I do invest into racks I will get maternity racks in addition to breeder and raise-up racks. Another advantage is you can accurately gauge which mothers are starting to underproduce and efficiently cull/replace them when necessary.
The way I work my system is I have 3 males in my top three tubs and then 6 tubs below those for nursing moms and grow outs. The top three breeding racks will have anywhere from 2 to 4 females in each tub with the male. I initially started with 2 max females but I found they do great with 3 and I eventually pushed it to 4 with no observable downside other than needing to change the bedding/water/food more often. With the numbers I have I usually only have 4 in there for a short period because there will be a pregnant mom ready to be moved down. I think part of the reason I’m able to keep relatively high numbers in these tubs is because they are kept inside my house with ideal/stable temperatures at 70 degrees.
For my 20 to 25 ball pythons I have currently I way over produce. I used to feed some animals frozen thawed but I dont at all anymore. I have a freezer full of rats I need to try to sell to put them to good use. Each mom tends to produce litters of around 12-15.
I initially started breeding because the rats I got from a local breeder were in terrible shape and I didn’t like feeding them to my animals. The nearest pet shop that sells them is nearly a 1hr drive round trip and same thing, poor quality unhealthy rats. It’s also nice having every size I need always on hand and I’ve been able to experiment with different feeding rates.
I haven’t done a detailed cost analysis but I need to. I’m currently over producing but I suspect after this ball python breeding season I will be under producing with all my hold backs. I know for sure I am saving a ton over buying from a petshop or a rat breeder.
I should also note that these are standard Norwegian rats I’m breeding. I haven’t bred ASF’s or mice at all yet. I’ve had a 100% success rate getting my baby ball pythons started on rats. I know the time will come when I will get picky feeders and require hopper mice to get them going. I plan to maintain a small colony of mice eventually for that reason. I’d also like to breed a small colony of ASF’s for picky feeders beyond babies. For now my setup with standard rats works great and is sustaining my collection perfectly.
I use lab cages for my colonies and then use a rack for nursing mothers. I keep nursing mothers together with other mothers who litters are around the same size. When they are done nursing I put them in whatever cage has room. This keeps your from always breeding the same pairs and keeps your line fresher in my opinion. I wouldn’t want to pay out of pocket to feed my collection would be a huge cost without my colony. And it’s much more handy when you have alot of snakes. This is my rat room I run a carbon filter action to keep the smell down.