(You are welcome to cut and paste this information to print as a handout.)
Advantages of Frozen Rodents for Herps
1. The herp can’t be bitten or scratched (live rodents often injure and sometimes kill herps)
2. The owner can’t be bitten or scratched
3. Freezing kills parasites that can infest your herp
4. More economical
5. More convenient
6. Steady availability
7. The rodent can’t escape into your home
8. More sanitary; no urine or feces
9. Supplements can be inserted inside the rodent
10. Rodents sold frozen are killed humanely with carbon dioxide at the breeding facility and
shipped frozen, eliminating suffering
Feeding Thawed Frozen Rodents to Herptiles
Defrosting Frozen Rodents
For a snake, choose a rodent with a girth about equal to the widest
mid-body girth of the snake. You can either soak the bagged frozen
rodent in warm water, or leave in the refrigerator overnight to defrost,
and then warm it up in warm water. Small pinkies can be quickly
defrosted and warmed under warm running water.
Be sure the rodent is thoroughly defrosted and warmed to 90-100ºF. You
do not want your herp eating a cold rodent, and warming a rodent also
makes it smell more strongly, making it more attractive to your herp.
This is especially important when training snakes to eat thawed frozen
rodents, or for reluctant feeders.
Training Reptiles to Eat Thawed Frozen Rodents
all carnivorous reptiles can be trained to eat thawed frozen prey. Zoos
keep hundreds of different species, and 99% of them eat thawed frozen
Reasons a Snake Might Refuse to Eat
1. Incorrect environmental conditions
2. Feeding too often
3. Incorrect food item size
4. Snake is about to shed
5. Snake is Sick
Training Snakes to Eat Thawed Frozen Rodents
Be sure the snake is hungry. Most snakes should be fed once a week for
juveniles and every two weeks for adults. Offer a thawed, warmed rodent
dangled from tongs—never hold it in your fingers! You may need to move
the rodent back and forth to catch the snake’s attention. Be prepared
for the strike and quickly release the rodent.
If the snake is not interested, pith (stick a pin or small nail into
the brain at the back of the head) the dead rodent; this intensifies the
scent and may encourage a reluctant feeder to eat.
Offer two rodents half the size you would normally offer. First offer
one freshly killed, then a thawed frozen rodent. When these are easily
taken, offer only a thawed, warmed frozen rodent at future feedings.
Converting Non-Rodent Eaters to Eating Rodents
For snakes that normally eat amphibians or lizards, obtain a frog or
lizard and euthanize it for feeding. Then rub the lizard or frog all
over a suitably-sized thawed, warmed rodent to scent it, then offer the
rodent for feeding.
For other suggestions on how to train herptiles to eat thawed frozen
rodents or to get reluctant feeders to eat, contact a company that sells
frozen rodents, or your local herpetological society.
A great article on training reluctant snakes to eat killed prey can be found at
We invite you to take the Herp-Owners Humane Pledge on Facebook
at https://www.facebook.com/groups/hohpledge/ and add your name to
This information was gathered from
the websites of Mice Direct, T-Rex, and CalZoo, by the Rat Assistance
& Teaching Society, www.petrats.org, (530) 899-0605,857 Lindo Lane,
Chico, CA 95973.