How To Breed Mice For Snake Food
Breeding Mice For Snake Food
To breed mice for snake food you will need cages of about 50 X 50 X 30cm. Make sure that cages are escape proof. The best cages are hard plastic tubs with a wire mesh lid, although a lot of cages have a steel base and wire sides and tops, these work well but are extremely messy because the mice push their substrate through the mesh. Many snake breeders keep their mice in racking systems with plenty of tubs, this is by far the most convenient way of doing things.
Use wood shavings as a substrate, I don’t like to keep them on pine or cedar shavings as these are no good for keeping snakes on so I don’t like to take the chance that some may be transferred to my snakes. You can use water bottles with copper or stainless steel tubes leading into the tank, don’t use dishes, the mice just dirty them and the babies can and will drown in them. Put a little box in the cage for privacy as mice will eat their young if stressed.
Mice are sociable and can therefore be kept in breeding groups of 1 male to 4 or 5 females, I have found that 4 works best. Mice have between 5 and 12 babies and there gestation period is very short, about 3 weeks. You can tell they are pregnant when they get a pear shape, a large abdomen. The babies are weaned by around 3 weeks of age and can breed again as early as 5 weeks of age so they should be separated into new family groups before this time to avoid inbreeding. Mice however should not be bred until they are fully grown, generally when 2 months or older.
Mice should be given a healthy diet, especially when breeding. There are seed diets, pelleted foods and blocks available. Because mice in the wild eat just about anything and require a lot of protein. Made for mice pellets are the best but these are usually very expensive. Seeds can be given also however but are not as nutricious. Some people even feed dog or cat foods but after a while your mice can develop growths and therefore these foods are not recommended. I have found that certain pelleted pig foods designed for pregnant sows are extremely cost effective and have no negative effects on my mice or snakes. Feeding your mice cucumbers reduces their need for water and takes away the smell.
Once the female is pregnant, it is ideal to remove the male to avoid him breeding her after the delivery and so there is less of a chance of babies getting eaten (by mother or father). Although for snake breeders this is usually too much of a chore and when there is 4 female mice in a cage it is easier just to leave the male in and take your chances. If it appears a mother is eating her young remove her (Snake Food) and give the young to another new mother and she will adopt them immediately. When cleaning cages always leave a bit of the old substrate in so that the mice remain calm otherwise the pregnant mothers will absorb their young and a gap in production of about a month will occur.
When introducing new mice into a family group it is best to change all the substrate in the cage and introduce all the mice together so that they all feel new to the group otherwise the new mouse will just get attacked and probably killed.