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The truth about Rodent Breeding

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  • The truth about Rodent Breeding

    My 2 cents

    Most of you know that over the years, on several different occasions, I have raised both rodents and rabbits. AND that I think it is almost a necessity for someone feeding a lot of reptiles, but I do want a post here to reflect the devils advocate position. So I will bring up a few of the negatives just so the average person does not think this is a cake walk, and may understand that it is a lot of work.

    It is a PAIN in the you-know-what to raise, breed, feed, water, clean, freeze etc etc feeders. Any thing other than 2 or 3 pairings of rodents becomes a JOB. It requires DAILY maintainence, and it may really require a seperate building or facility away from your house.

    I have had a lot of problems with rats. They are my problem child, and I go back and forth with raising them/buying them. Any tub type enclosure they will eat through within a few months or sooner. Any glass type enclosure or all wire enclosures become hard to clean and disinfect properly. And if one adult rat does escape the cage, it will destroy everything around it, including auto-watering systems, food bins, electrical cords, etc etc. I had one adult rat chew 20 feet of water line just to be chewing. I believe the only feasible way to properly maintain and control rats in a larger scale is with the high end rack systems. And they are expensive.

    Cleaning is a daily job. When you get several breeders going, the smell can quickly get out of control. It takes a daily check of the messiest ones, but a weekly complete replacement of the substrate and a cleaning of the enclosure. Some are better than others, but most have high urine output and it gets strong. The grow out containers that house many many young rodents to grow out in, get very messy, very quickly.

    Tempature control is a MUST. Fluctuating temps greatly affect not only the breeding output but also the urine output. The hotter it gets the more water they drink and the more they urinate. Again this almost requires a temperature regulated building.

    Feeding and watering is a DAILY job. Unless you have a rack system, with food hoppers and automatic watering systems, you must check and fill the water and food bins every day. A standard pairing of one male and 4 female rats, can drink a standard rabbit watering bottle every day. So this creates a situation where you cannot leave for the weekend, unless you have someone that can do your maintainence for you. Rodents will only live a day or so without water. It is more important than food any day. Rodents that have a full hopper of food and no water, will turn on each other and kill and eat another rodent in an effort to survive.

    The upfront costs to do it right are extremely expensive. There are a million creative ways to house, water and feed them, but on a large scale most of the very low cost ways will get you in the end and they become more work and cost you more money in the long run. Saving money by using the wal-mart rubbermaid containers, will NOT work with rats. It may take a couple of months, but they will chew through them, same thing with the thicker food service bussing tubs. I know from 3 years experience that it doesn't last. That is why I will not raise rats again until I can purchase the proper rack system.

    I can promise you that on a larger scale, they require more time and effort than you think initially, and that takes away from your time spent with the snakes. I easily spend as much time with the feeders as I do with the snakes.

    With that said, please don't misunderstand me. I am NOT against raising feeders at all, I just want people to be informed of what they could face.

    Peace! I am off to check on my feeders.
    Last edited by ClayEnglish; 01-09-2011, 12:20 PM.
    To gain knowledge is good, but to share knowledge is wise

    -Best Regards
    -Clay English
    Founder Redtailboas.com 1998-2013

  • #2
    Re:The truth about Rodent Breeding

    8) Excellent post Clay, i have been using the sterilite 3 drawer space saver units to house many feeders, each drawer is huge and can house up to 3 dault large rats, 2 colossal rats, a colony of say 12 mice not any chewing probs with them, it was the gerbils that chewd theres so now they are in a tank.. I dont have as many breeders as you do Clay so it dont take me as much time each day to tend to them, we also use alot of diffrent things for them to chew on like toilet paper tubes, paper towel tubes, hamster and bird wood chews.. The gerbils do the most digging and chewing that we have noticed.. But as far as systems go you have the best it looks like for lots of breeders... As far as feeders getting out and chewing things up none yet but chipmunks are my biggest prob they get into everything.. :-[ :-\ Maybe i should just catch and raise them.. LOL!!!! None the less still a excellent point Clay.. Very well put...

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    • #3
      Re:The truth about Rodent Breeding

      thats why i only had 2 females and i male i knew what it was like my dad owned a pet store and we raised all of his feeder mices/rats he sold it was worse than a pain in the you know what lmao. i can remember at one time him having over 5000 baby mice at one time he bought 200 males and 500 females to breed and soon they started exploding everywhere some lived some died but man oh man it was nasty

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      • #4
        Re:The truth about Rodent Breeding

        Hey clay,

        Very well put. I agree 100%.. Although I use 90% glass tanks, it takes me about an hour a day plus two hours on change day.. I got smart and just clean and disinfect one tank, then pull all the rodents and put them in the new tank, and keep cycling them. I mainly use windex, and a clorox wipe once a week. But every month I take all the tanks out for scrubbing with soap water and elbow grease.. you are right its alot of work.. I got smart. Since none of my snakes eat mice, they all eat rats and rabbits. I would get rid of all my mice, but the pet store buys them from me and it covers all the supplies needed for the rodents and some extras for the snakes..

        One trick i used to do and it works. Is add vanellia to their water.. A normal 8oz bottle of water only requires about 1/2 teaspoon of vanellia to their water and the urin smell goes down by 50%.. Trust me, my wife and I are very sensitive to sell, and they wouldn't be in the basement if they got bad..

        Good post Clay..

        Steve

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        • #5
          Re:The truth about Rodent Breeding

          Steve, Do you mean regular vanilla, as you would purchase to make cookies with?

          I would like to hear more about the vanilla/vanellia.. I am going to do a search on it as well, but would like to hear more about it. I think you should make it a stand alone topic in the feeder forum.
          To gain knowledge is good, but to share knowledge is wise

          -Best Regards
          -Clay English
          Founder Redtailboas.com 1998-2013

          Comment


          • #6
            Re:The truth about Rodent Breeding

            Hey Clay,

            Yeah Imitation vanellia extract.. You can get the gallon of it at same club for like 10 bucks.. It takes about 3 days to enter into their system, but it does work well and is completly harmless.. Just make sure you don't give them extra sugar in any forum or you may make them hyper.. Don't get me wrong. their fecal and urin will not smell like candy, just alot less nasty.. Worked gret for the 2 years I used it.. I only stopped because you have to really wash the water bottles out atleast every two weeks.. I was tight with time when I stopped.. I may start back up..

            Hope that helped..
            Steve

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            • #7
              Re:The truth about Rodent Breeding

              Interisting information so what would you recomend for cagin

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              • #8
                Re:The truth about Rodent Breeding

                Very interesting points Clay and Steve. I raise feeders as well as pets...will have to try the vanilla. I keep mine in glass tanks, but I do not use screen lids as i have had a lot of trouble with them. My tanks are all in a book shelf and each shelf is set just above the tank below with enough room for air flow, so far I have never had an excape, and I have healthy happy rats. I dont have the tempurature problems you all do as I live in Alaska, though occationally it gats too hot in the summer so my rats each have their own ice pack wich sits against their tank on the outside and they cuddle up to the cool glass.

                Rachael

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                • #9
                  Re:The truth about Rodent Breeding

                  i use to breed mice along time ago and it was a hassle for me, so I went back to buying mice.

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                  • #10
                    Re: The truth about Rodent Breeding

                    So will rats chew out of a sterilite or not? I'm thinking of making my own rack system deal with sterilites... but I don't want to waste my time if they will chew out.

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                    • #11
                      Re: The truth about Rodent Breeding

                      Clay,how would you compare breeding mice and breeding rats?I might one day give mice a try cause i have a florida king that does not eat rats and eats 4 mice at a time.Might be a little fun thing to do.Im sure it must be a little easier breeding mice than rats due to there size difference.I would only need 4 adults a week and maybe a fuzzie or hopper when i have smaller boas around.How many males and females would you suggest i start out with?What equipment should i use(Cages,rack,etc),what do you feed youre mice?What about the temps and humidity?Any other advice on mice breeding you would like to teach me would be great help.Thanks.
                      I guess another question i should ask is is it worth the trouble breeding the mice for one snake and every now and then some smaller boas?

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                      • #12
                        Re: The truth about Rodent Breeding

                        I agree, I bred mice a long time ago before getting into frozen feeders. I started breeding my own since local suppliers were always running out back then! I tried it for a few months and can tell you I hated it, the smell was horrible no matter how much you cleaned!! From what I understand rats are cleaner and smell less than mice.

                        Since those days I've switched to frozen feeders and love it. I have a small freezer in my garage loaded with feeders of various sizes and for me it is well worth it!

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                        • #13
                          Re: The truth about Rodent Breeding

                          That brings up an interesting question. If buying in bulk, can you keep frozen rats in a deep freezer if they are vacuum packed?

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                          • #14
                            Re: The truth about Rodent Breeding

                            Originally posted by ssscales
                            I agree, I bred mice a long time ago before getting into frozen feeders. I started breeding my own since local suppliers were always running out back then! I tried it for a few months and can tell you I hated it, the smell was horrible no matter how much you cleaned!! From what I understand rats are cleaner and smell less than mice.

                            Since those days I've switched to frozen feeders and love it. I have a small freezer in my garage loaded with feeders of various sizes and for me it is well worth it!
                            I Agree!! A few years back i also bred mice, i had around 12 females at one time, not that big of an operation but like you said, it STUNK!! i have also heard that rats dont smell as much.

                            And yes, you can keep them in whatever freezer. vaccuum packed is the way to go for long term freezing.

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                            • #15
                              Re: The truth about Rodent Breeding

                              Originally posted by Rock"EH"balboa
                              Clay,how would you compare breeding mice and breeding rats?
                              Simply put, here is the difference.

                              Mice are much easier to house and feed, and keep housed. (They rarely escape from manufactured mice habitats/racks.)

                              Mice smell much worse than rats. Much Much worse. Even the smell generated from 1 male and 3 females will become unbearable without constant maintenance.

                              Mice (males) often kill or eat the babies, so it is important to remove mothers when prego to seperate housing to deliver and raise the babies.

                              I don't think there is much difference overall when we are talking 1 or 2 rodents.

                              But 100 or 200 rodents there would be a substansial difference in maintenance between mice and rats... This number of rats, we are talking gallons of water a day, and a 50 pound bag of food during the week. And daily daily daily daily maintenance...
                              To gain knowledge is good, but to share knowledge is wise

                              -Best Regards
                              -Clay English
                              Founder Redtailboas.com 1998-2013

                              Comment

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