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If you have a reptile that needs to be fed on Frozen food like mice, rats, guinea pigs or quail, then getting things right is important for the health and well being of your reptile, ensuring they are getting the right diet for the species, age and size.
Its also great fun and very rewarding! Feeding your snake or lizard their natural prey allows you a front row seat as they display their natural hunting instincts, from aggressive striking, to constricting and eventual slow, methodical feeding. It’s a wonder to behold, but getting them the right food first is the most important thing.
You Reptile’s Frozen Diet
Your reptile’s diet is going to be based on their species, their natural prey and their age and size. While a reticulated python will be one day big enough to eat whole adult rabbits, they start off life much smaller than even a rat, and will have to wait a while until they can take on the big stuff.
Research is key to good reptile diet at this point – take a look online at good reptile care sheets or consider buying a care guide book to keep handy, researching their diet carefully so you can cater for their needs at every stage of their life. You may find that some reptiles don’t require large frozen foods at all, and can be fed on livefood like insects.
Don’t forget to check the frequency at which you should feed your reptile, as this will be age and species dependent too.
In the UK, Frozen Reptile Food is quite widely available, with mice, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits being among the favourites, and it is likely that your carnivorous reptile will be fed on one or more of these foods.
Getting hold of Reptile Frozen Food
Once you have established the type of frozen rodent or mammal your reptile is best fed, you need to find yourself a reliable source of this food. These range from local shops to online retailers, and the trick is always to choose places that state hygienic breeding, good ethics and high quality – after all, you are what you eat, and that goes for reptiles too – You don’t want to be feeding them frozen food that has had a bad life, as this is more likely to contain parasites, bacteria and may not be as nutritious as it looks.
Some of the best deals to be found are online, where bulk purchases can be made (providing you have enough room in your freezer to keep them) getting you a better price per animal, just make sure their delivery time suits you. For instance: ordering from Swell before 3pm, Monday to Thursday means they dispatch the food the same day, so you will want to have somebody home to accept it or else it might start to defrost, despite the refrigerated vans and specialised packaging to try and prevent this. It is riskier to order from online retailers who might dispatch foods on a Friday afternoon, as it is unlikely to survive until the Monday delivery date in a still frozen state.
Getting frozen food that is delivered quickly and that is still frozen when it arrives is important. If you don’t really want to be feeding your reptile food that has defrosted several times, as it is more likely to have rotted and gone bad, developing bacterial cultures that could cause potential harm if ingested, not to mention a bad smell!
Feeding your reptile their frozen food
Now comes the fun part! First, you need to defrost the food. There are many ways to do this, but arguably the best way is to allow the food to defrost slowly in a sealed container, left in the fridge or at least away from direct sunlight or sources of heat. This prevents it from cooking and from developing bacterial cultures. A large rat kept in the fridge will defrost in about 12 hours.
PLEASE, don’t use a microwave to defrost the livefood in a hurry, as microwaves cook in a fashion that warms up some areas more than others, and any ‘hotspots’ on the food may burn your reptile internally! Nasty stuff!
Once defrosted, its feeding time! If this is the first time you have fed your snake or lizard, it could be you are in for a shop as it may have an aggressive feeding response. Don’t worry, to combat this, ensure that you wash your hands thoroughly, and you can wear protective gloves and use a set of forceps or tweezers to handle the food, putting a safe distance between your reptile’s intended target and your hand!
Using the forceps, you can wiggle the food around a bit if you need to, imitating lively prey, making it more likely to trigger your reptile’s hunting instincts for a successful feed.
Frozen Food Terminology
This can sometimes be a little confusing at the beginning, so use this handy guide to figure things out:
- Mice Pinkies: About 1 to 5 day old mice, quite hairless, only weigh around 1-3g
- Mice Fuzzies: Mice around 6-13 days old, a little more fuzzy hair and around 3-6g
- Mice Hoppers: About 2-3 weeks, and 7-12 grams in weight
- Mice, small, Medium, Large, Extra Large: These guys look like adult mice, and their weights vary.
- Rat Pinkies: 1-6 days old, bigger than their mouse counterparts, about 3-8g
- Rat Pups: 2-3 weeks old, a little more hair, around 21-30 grams, equivalent to adult mice!
- Weaner Rats: 3-4 weeks old, 31-45 grams, no longer fed on milk
- Rats, small, medium large: Juvenile to adult rats of different sizes and weights up to about 350g.
Terminology about rabbits, guinea pigs and chicks are more straight forward, just remember not to give your reptile more than they can handle, as if they swallow something too big, they may regurgitate – unpleasant for all concerned!