I’m new to keeping a ball python, about a month ago I got a normal female. She’s eating F/T fine so I’m not really searching for an alternative feeding solution but I’ve wondered if cooking her rats would be of any benefit. My first thoughts on why nobody cooks their rats is because it sounds very inconvenient, but I cook with Sous Vide all the time and I’m wondering if that would work. Sous Vide basically works by vacume packing the food and putting it in a water bath at a consistent lower temperature for a few hours. It’s easy and makes perfect steaks so I’m pretty sure you could cook a rat perfectly without it exploding. You’d need to cool it down after so you’re not feeding a rat that’s to hot but theoretically you could even put them back in the fridge if the snake didn’t accept it because they’re cooked and it won’t rot in their stomach either. Does anyone who knows more about a snakes digestive system have any ideas on this?
To my knowledge, cooking them would destroy a lot a nutrients in them. On top of that, snakes are designed to eat raw meat, so why risk any issues that could arise if fed cooked prey? If they would even eat it. You also should never have rodents in anything you would cook in or eat out of, since that could make you sick. So cross-contamination would be another reason not to. @t_h_wyman might know more, but over all I think is basically a common sense kinda thing. If they are designed to eat one thing and you feed them something they aren’t designed for, then problems could come of it. It is like people that try to make their cats vegan.
I get what you mean there, I have a designated defrosting cup with holes soldered in it so I never use it but that’s the ting about sous vide though. Nothing you cook sous vide ever touches the water so it would be a safe method. No cross contamination unless you have a burst rat bag, don’t clean it or change the water, then your food bag breaks too. Even then with water at 140 degrees running for hours all bacteria and parasites would be killed over time, same as for a steak. You could technically cook with water from the toilet and the result would be the same because it’s just there to transfer heat. I’m not sure about the nutrients but I’ve heard cooked meat is easier to digest so that’s really what made me curious. That’s why we cook our food but we evolved with that in play.
I wouldn’t personally cook my snake’s food, as mentioned before they’re not really meant to digest cooked food. They don’t eat cooked meat in the wild, why would they in captivity?
Just my thoughts. I wouldn’t go through the trouble, I don’t think it would benefit the snakes any honestly
Personally I would advocate against cooking rats for any snakes. I know of one example where people will boil pinky mice for very difficult finicky feeders, but this is an extreme example and a last resort. My main concern would be as @trnreptiles mentioned about the digestion process being for raw foods in a wild setting.
Boiling pinkies is one thing because they have only had milk. A rat with solid waste inside it sounds like a bacteria farm. Pinkies are already a poor food item to promote growth, they’re definitely no better after they’re boiled, and it feels like they’re worse but that might just be the hassle lol.
This. They evolved on whole (raw) prey items. It’s important that they eat that way, it’s why we don’t have any debilitating nutritional deficiencies in really any snake I’m aware of. Lizards or mammals can lick minerals off of surfaces, or otherwise ingest them, snakes don’t have that luxury. Evolution has it settled so they don’t need it, by making sure they get all of it from their meals.
I don’t think cooking is a great idea but I do thaw the rats with hot water from the tub. Its not scalding hot due to having children but bypasses waiting many hours. I have a designated metal jar just for the rats.
Cooking does not destroy that many nutrients. And in some respects it actually frees up more net calories per gram of food. So in that respect, I would not be too concerned.
Now, with that said, I am not sure it would work more because it would likely alter the smell of the food item enough that the snake would be less inclined to eat it.
Nothing you cook sous vide has tiny sharp little claws that would puncture the vacuum bag either, so contamination is actually a possibility
Eh… That is debatable contingent upon the organism. There are quite a few hearty little monsters out there that could pull through in low numbers at that temp.
My full evaluation would be that I do not see it as being a huge detriment so I am not going to say you cannot or should not, I just do not think you will see any major net benefit from it.
Might be a good way to thaw and warm up a rat, maybe? Just not long enough in the water to cook through.
This is a good post. Thank you for this post. had a laugh
Never thaw a rodent in that high of temps. That is how we get bacteria outbreaks. The outside would also cook before the inside is thawed.
Warm water is the hottest you should go. 80-90 is my range with multiple water changes. For defrosting multiple large rats I do plan to actually use aquarium heaters inside a cooler on a thermostat.
I’m not an expert in much, but I am an expert in food safety temps. 25 years in restaurants from dishwasher to F&B Beverage Director at properties you would recognize.
140 degrees does not kill bacteria. 140 degrees is a safe hot holding temp once food has been brought above 160 degrees, then held at 140. In a commercial dishwasher setting that sterilizes by temperature, that safety threshold is 180 degrees. Sous Vide is a very cool method of cooking for humans willing to risk the inherent dangers of partially cooked food (med rare steak or soft boiled egg for example) OR slow cooking food thoroughly (braised meats).
I have no idea if a cooked rat is a good idea or not for snakes, but the premise that 140 will kill all bacteria is simply not accurate. In most states, any restaurant that cooks food to less than 160 degree they are required to put a food safety warning in print on the menu for the very reason that it does not reach "safe’ cooked temps.
The point of uncleaned (ungutted) issues is brought up previously as well. I can say that I am unfamiar with any food put in a sous vide for human consumption has any gut/digestive materials left in it. Beef, hogs, fish, etc… we gut all of them. For a reason.
I like the OP’s thought. Seriously. However, I don’t think it’s worth the experiment on your animals.
Thats about what my actual hot water temp is. I always turn it down at the water heater to prevent accidents with our children. I’ve thawed this way for 15 years now, no issues.
I just get mine out in the morning, put in a tub on the heat mat and later it’s ready for eating.
If smaller (for the young and king) I get out in the afternoon and do the same.
Glad someone with food safety knowledge said something. I just finished all my classes and where I work minimum temperature for red meat is between 160-175°. I grew up with hunters and know gut bacteria will ruin and taint the meat. There’s a limited time to clean and gut before the bacteria can seep out into the meat.
The one paper I was able to find in regards to feeding a cooked meal only studied the cost of digestion, nothing about what kind of nutritional implications there were. If you’ve got a snake taking f/t, there’s really no reason to mess with that.
That said, sous vide is not the method you should ever use for cooking a whole animal unbutchered, it’s a recipe for disaster because you’ve got stomach contents and feces. Sous vide cooks gently, yes, but that means it takes longer for the ideal internal temperature to be reached and all that time the bacteria remaining in the rat’s digestive tract is essentially in an incubator, causing putrefaction. You’re just going to end up with a bacteria bomb that is likely to make your snake very ill.
From my understanding it won’t harm the snake in any way, but it doesn’t benefit them either. My question is why? Why would you cook a rat other than to maybe prevent it from exploding when you give it to the snake, which doesn’t happen often enough imo to make it worth the hassle. Like mentioned before it’s gonna be a pain to get the snake to eat it if it’s already on frozen thawed. If it’s not beneficial to the snake, and doesn’t do much for you either, why waste the time and energy to cook and then try to switch your snake onto a cooked rat?
I like the way OP is thinking, it’s creative and out of the box, and makes us think… Buuuuut I don’t think this idea is going anywhere.