I am nowhere close to purchasing my first snake (darn college years), but I am very Type A and love to occupy my time with research so that I can make sure I am well prepared for when that time comes.
I plan to start my collection with cresties and potentially a BTS, which are both generally easy to source food for.
With the snakes I am interested in, they all eat rodents, which will involve some new activities for me.
I currently work in a rat lab, so I am experienced in the following aspects of rodent care (should I chose to raise and breed my own):
- General rodent husbandry (food, water, bedding, cleaning)
- Weaning and sexing
- Proper handling, health checks
In my lab, we euthanize using CO2 or rapid decap, neither of which I am involved with (student liability), so this is where many of my questions lie:
- If you create a CO2 chamber for euthanasia, where do you even buy the big tanks of CO2?
- How long do you need to let the rodents “gas off” to allow for CO2 release before feeding or freezing?
- If you plan to freeze, what is your process? Do you cool to room temp, then fridge, then freezer? Or straight to the freezer?
Those are my big ones, thank you in advance!
Excellent questions @cmills
I have gassed my own rodents and frozen them, so I think I can answer most of them. Now my method may be different to someone else, so you might get several answers to your questions
We purchased our CO2 chamber from Airgas. Our canister was 5 pounds (not big at all).
We allowed the rats to “gas off” for about 5-ish minutes
You put them immediately to the freezer after your “gas off” time. We vacuumed sealed and froze asap
(you need to get them into the freezer as soon as possible just like food for food safety - same rule applies)
Edit; I should say this is for African Soft Furs and not rats.
Clean once a week or as necessary based on your population density.
Feed a lab block like Mazuri, OH Kruse, Volkman, etc.
Remove weanlings at 4 weeks old.
You won’t have a hard time sexing them.
I worm once a year, otherwise, just keep an eye on hygiene. Rats that keep themselves clean are healthy, dirty rats have something going on usually.
I share a lot tips in this thread
For euthanasia, you need to use a CO2 regulator with a flow meter. If you’re not measuring the flow of gas, you’ll suffocate the rats instead of humanely euthanizing them.
This is the AVRMA guide to humane euthanasia
Within the guide above you’ll find a formula for calculating the correct flow rate per the size of your chamber.
A chamber can simply be a large gasketed snap top tub that you poke a hole in and seal the gas hose into.
Thank you this is exactly what I needed!
Excellent! Thank you for the helpful links!
Do you get new/new blood breeders from pet shops, other reptile owners, etc? Lab strains are super expensive, so I know that’s not the way to go for feeder rats I think our Sprague Dawleys are $50 a pair, not including shipping
I’m so glad there are smaller options, I had no idea! Our lab cannister is probably 5 feet tall and super heavy, which seems like such overkill for a home operation
I’m partners in a feeder rodent company and we don’t add any new blood. We started with rodents from another commercial producer and once we had an established population we stopped bringing things in. We’d like to eventually have the option to sell to labs and most labs won’t buy from you until you’ve had a completely closed colony for years.
Gotcha! Thank you for the info!
You received a lot of good information. Both are are combination of what we do. Just a small 5-8 lbs canister, regulator, hose, and container is all you need. Any welding place should have the container and can refill.
I must also throw it that if you are only gong the have a small number of snakes, it is best just the buy your feeders as needed. 8 snakes up, you. Might want to raise your own feeders. If you do want raise your own, have a place to sell off your extra. If not, you will be storing way more then you can go through. Until you get your setup gong, you will need to find a food source. As you know, it can take months to get a setup going to where you have enough feeders on a regular basis.
Awesome advice, thank you!
Do you guys raise them up outside? I can’t imagine the stench. I know keeping things clean helps a bunch but I can’t get past the smell even of the few I get.
I started out keeping in the garage. This was ok as long as you kept everything clean. I have since built a shed for everything. Has nothing but home made racks and rats, 2 water source, tubing with rabbit water feeding ends, place to keep bedding and food. Heater from the cold nights/days. I leave the doors open during the worm days. In summer I replace a section of the wall with a wire mesh wall for constant air flow. I will see if I can find some pictures to post.
Here are a few I found. Does not really show the water system, but gives you an idea of how it was ran. The back mesh gets removed in winter and the original wall goes back up. I have 10 male/bins for breeding and each has 4 female at any given time (not counting the mothers on the grow out side). In total 10.50 on average. All breeding is on one side. The other is all grow out. It can hold 30 tubs with shelf space for bedding, food and water. (I might be moving the supplies out and adding more tubs).
I love this, and feel like this is such a reptile person thing. You’ve heard of the dad shed, the man shack, the she shed, well here’s RAT SHED, its full of RATS, on PURPOSE
@d_y_python That’s actually gorgeous! Holy cow! I guess I was picturing stuff that I’ve seen on Craigslist for sale like rat racks and stuff.
I actually have my girl snakes on a diet but back in May I was spending almost $160/month on live for 8 ball pythons. There’s a personal reason I feed live but keeping and raising makes so much more sense
I am not set on just live or f/t feedings. All of mine where on f/t until I started breeding rats. Then I switched them to live. As long as it is done safe with live, then in some cases it makes better sense. Cost was the reason we started breeding our own. Now I don’t have to worry if I can get food that week or what to do with the ones they do not eat. All my extra are sold off to cover the cost of breeding them. It is a win win all around.