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Edward M. Craft

At one point in time or another every owner of a carnivorous reptile will decide that they want to try their hand at keeping mice to be used as food items. While this is a very useful means of solving the problem of a constant food supply it is not for everyone. Mice require just as much work to raise as do the reptiles themselves. The mice must also be fed and this cost should be figured into the factor when determining the cost of raising your own mice or purchasing them.

The first thing to note when raising and breeding feeder mice is that they should be treated just as good as the reptiles that they are intended to be food for. This will help to prevent the spread of disease and parasites to your reptile and it is just plain cruel to the prey animal. This is also just another reason for pre-killing the mice prior to feeding, it reduces the risk of harm to the reptile and is more humane for the prey animal.

Housing may be achieved by keeping the mice in 10 gallon glass aquarium. Inexpensive lab cages designed specifically for mice may also be purchased and are available from most reptile supply houses and specialty mail order firms. Pine shavings may be used for substrate or torn newspaper may be used. The newspaper is less expensive, but is messy and requires more frequent cleaning. Cedar shavings should NEVER be used as a substrate as it is known to be harmful to mice. A water bottle should be provided and is best secured on the inside of the enclosure with velcro strips.

Mice should be fed a varied diet including hamster/gerbil food, lab blocks and some dog food. All of this can be purchased at most grocery stores and pet stores. A constant supply of food should be available at all times.

The enclosure should house about 4 females to 1 male. Once the male has copulated with the female, she should be removed from the group. It will be about 21 days until the female gives birth to a litter of 5-15 pinkies. Average litter size being about 15 pinkies with some females having as many as 20 in a litter depending upon their overall age and general health. About 21 days later the young should be weaned and eating on their own. The female may then be returned to the group enclosure. At 45 days out the young should have matured into adults.

Cage Cleaning should be done 1-2 times a week. Dispose of the substrate and wash the tanks with soap and a very mild bleach and water solution. It is important to ensure that the tank is very well rinsed and dried thoroughly before replacing the wood chips and mice back into the enclosure. Make sure that the enclosure lid is secure at all times. Loose mice are not only difficult to catch, but often are not and may begin to breed in your home.

While any color mice will do just fine, it is the white lab mice that seem to be the hardiest and tend to be more prolific breeders. The average breeder will continue to breed for about 1 year. The female breeders should be replaced about every year and the male should be replaced about every year and a half.

Temperature is very important and the mice should be kept in a room where the temperature is about 65 to 70 degrees F. Temperatures above 70 degrees F. tend to cause their production to slow down, and if kept at temperatures above 70 degrees F for prolonged periods of time they will eventually die.

Being patient is the key and you may have to experiment a little with the basic concept in order to find a method that is both effective and convenient for you.

All rights reserved by Edward M. Craft. Printed in the United States of America. Original Edition 1999

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All rights reserved by Edward M. Craft. Printed in the United States of America. Original Edition 1997