Advice About Breeding Mice

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by Iowa Roo Mom, Jul 21, 2010.

  1. Iowa Roo Mom

    Iowa Roo Mom Resistance Is Futile

    Apr 30, 2009
    Keokuk County
    *Disclaimer* This is a thread about breeding mice for snake food. If you have a problem with that, please leave now.

    So I am trying to get set up for breeding mice for snake food, especially for winter, to save trips to town and $$$. I don't need a large operation, I only have need for two mice a week. SO far my set up is 1 male and 1 female in a 10 gallon tank. I have a wheel, water bottle, food, and igloo thing. I think the female may be pregnant, and as soon as I am sure, I am going to get rid of the male. My question is, can I line-breed? I was wondering if anyone else breeds their own snake food, and if so, what's your setup?

    Any advice would be appreciated... Thanks [​IMG]
  2. le neige homme

    le neige homme Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 15, 2010
    I used to do this like 15 years ago. I had a few of those commercial style breeding cages made of a big plastic tub with a hardware cloth top, where the top has a little channel formed into it to place the kibble and a water bottle. Much lower maintenance that way, but with the quantity you're aiming for, your set-up will be fine as well.

    I never bothered with lines and such.

    Also, a nursing mouse must never, ever run out of food. Not even for a minute, or she'll eat her babies.

    What kind of snake(s) do you have?
  3. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Flock Master

    Jan 18, 2008
    i dont really know much about this as ive never had snakes but i assume that it would be ok to line breed them if they are just going to be snake food anyways, but if you were planning on breeding them for something else or as pets or something then youd probably be concerned with genetic problems, color, health, mabe temperment, etc but since theyre just food (right, are you planning on doing anything else with them or just food?) and since mice (and most rodents) breed like crazy any ways they shouldnt have a problem, maybe eventually you might get issues (resulting from breeding relatives and whatnot) that may be of concern otherwise but nothing that should affect breeding qualtity/ability or any thing like that and since theyre food, they should be fine, i understand you probably want the best for your snakes but they should be fine, plus you could always just go to the store and get some new mice for new genes and whatnot eventually if need be but i think they should be fine... good luck. [​IMG]
  4. Iowa Roo Mom

    Iowa Roo Mom Resistance Is Futile

    Apr 30, 2009
    Keokuk County
    A king snake and a ball python. I've had the king for going on 3 years now (Fluffy), but just got the ball (Skittles). Someone was just going to kill it if I didn't take it. It'll be a beautiful snake, but needs some work as far as agression issues. But she's better off here than dead I guess.
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2010
  5. CityChicker

    CityChicker Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 21, 2009
    I did it for about 3-4 years straight, mice and rats (far more rats then mice, although breeding them was the same). We used them for my brother's snakes and I made quite a decent little side income selling to pet stores that would resale them mostly as feeders. The only problem I had with inbreeding/linebreeding is that the rats seemed to get meaner the more inbred they were. I think it was more noticeable with them because rats are normally so docile. I used both aquariums and the commercial style cages. Breeding them was very straight forward and easy. You put a pair in a cage and soon after you will have babies. Easy as that.
  6. Epona142

    Epona142 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 19, 2008
    Bedias, TX
    Here is a short article I wrote for a Tegu forum. I raised mice and rats in large quantities for several years, for several purposes.

    Knowing that many of you here feed rodents to your tegus, and many of you have other herps that eat rodents, i.e. snakes, I put together this basic guide to rodent breeding and keeping. I hope it helps!

    I find mice to be more difficult than rats, as they are more shy and temperamental. However, once you find the right conditions, they can be prolific breeders, and are easy to keep. Rats often are easier to breed and keep, being more personal and friendly, and are less sensitive than mice to environment and outside stimulus.

    Let's start with enclosures. You'll find there are many ways to keep both mice and rats. For small groups, you can use aquariums. I find that a group of one male to three or four female mice do well enough in a ten gallon, though you should only keep one rat with a small unweaned litter in such. I have had great success with one male to seven or eight female mice in a twenty gallon long. For rats I wouldn't put more than two or three. Most wire cages you find for mice or rats are much too small, or inadequately shaped for breeding, though for rats, some make great places to hold your male, or younger rats, or even females between breeding cycles. Tubs are also a cheap and lightweight alternative, but you must take care to ensure there are no edges the rodents can get their teeth into, because if they can, they will chew out. Lastly, racks are used for larger scale breeding and keeping. These can be bought online, or built yourself.

    Substrate must be a good, absorb able particle substrate. There are many options, including aspen, carefresh, yesterday's newspaper, and many others available at most pet stores. Pine is debatable, though I can say I've used high quality pine for many years with never an ill effect. You want to stay away from anything with a lot of dust, as this can cause respiratory issues in rodents. Enclosures should be cleaned a MINIMUM of once a week, though it is advisable to scoop the corners out sometime in the week, as that is where the rodents will urinate most of the time, and can quickly become unsanitary. I scoop bedding from the corners during the week, replace all bedding once a week, and every two weeks I take the enclosures out for a good scrub and dry.

    A good rodent diet has many options. There are commercial rodent blocks, used in laboratories, as well as home-made diets, which consist of cereals, rices, grains, rodent blocks, and often dog food. When feeding dog food, you'll want to avoid the "trash" brands bought at a grocery store, and spend the extra dollar for higher quality, and avoid red dyes, as there has been some evidence as to this being harmful to reptiles. As far as I know, there is no concrete proof of this, but I prefer to be safe, than sorry.

    Water must always be available. I use bottles, as bowls will quickly become fouled or dumped over. Care must be taken that the bottles do not get chewed upon, and should be cleaned and refilled every day. A drop of vanilla extract in the water has been found to decrease the smell of rodent urine.

    Now for the fun part, breeding. Let's start with mice. As noted before, I keep one male to seven or eight females in a twenty gallon long aquarium. They stay together all the time, as I've found if you remove mice from an established colony, there can be serious issues trying to reintroduce, and removing them causes an increase in infanticide (baby eating). I do not keep anything in the enclosure except a water bottle, food bowl, and little igloo house, and even this is not necessary, though I believe it makes them feel more comfortable. They also do better in a climate controlled room or closet where they are not bothered a whole lot, or cannot see activity all the time. It can take months for a colony to start breeding, but once they do, the gestation period for a mouse is an average of 20 days. Females will help one another care for the pinkies, but keep a close eye on them, as some females seem to have a tendacy to be baby eaters, and must be removed. Once you have babies, I do not clean the tank until they are older, nearly hoppers, to prevent disturbing the females. Once the babies are seen to be eating and drinking on their own, I remove them to a new home to grow up. If you need them at a smaller size, remove them whenever you see fit. Afterwards, a good thorough scrubbing is recommended, and if all is going well, you will have new pinks soon, as mice often breed immediately after giving birth.

    Rats I have bred for many years. I even bred show rats for some time, and took home ribbons once or twice. Rats do not have to be kept in colonies, but can be. I usually keep two to four females together at all times, as they should never be alone, and a bonded group will often help take care of babies. I rotate a male in for one to two weeks, then he goes back to his bachelor pad, or has a wash and is put into another group of females. You may also keep the male with the females all the time, depending on the space and size of the enclosure, and your personal preferences, though be aware he will often breed the females right after birth, not allowing them a rest period. The gestation period of a rat is an average of 23 days. Rats are less likely to commit infanticide, but it does sometime happen to unstable, young, or exceptionally nervous females. Also with groups, you sometimes have females stealing and fighting over babies, or one female doing all the work. It can take some effort to form groups that work well together. After the babies are weaned, they can be removed, separate males from females, and placed into grow-out enclosures. For future breeding, sisters raised together often make good groups. If you need smaller or younger rats, take them from the mother at that time. The mother rat should be given a rest, anywhere from one week to three weeks, for her health, which will result in stronger babies and a healthier female able to care for them adequately.

    Hopefully this is helpful to you, and please, if you ever have any questions, or suggestions, or differing opinions, post them! None of this is concrete, or the way that EVERYONE does it. There are many ways to breed and keep rodents, and the great part of the community is sharing this information, and finding the way that works best for YOU. Best of luck to you in all your rodent breeding adventures, and remember, healthy food equals a healthy reptile!​
  7. CityChicker

    CityChicker Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 21, 2009
    Great article, Epona! I enjoyed keeping mice and rats and observing all their interesting behaviors. One of the coolest things to me was how often the rats would have all of their babies together in the same nest with all the mamas seemingly caring for all the young together. I always wondered if they could tell which ones were theirs or if they just fed them all equally. Fascinating creatures!
  8. rodriguezpoultry

    rodriguezpoultry Langshan Lover

    Jan 4, 2009
    Claremore, OK
    I wouldn't get rid of the male...just keep him in a separate cage. First time mothers are awful at eating their own offspring. I worked in a mice/rat lab and can't tell you how many times babies were murdered hours and days after the mother had given birth.

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