How To: Determine size of feeder

How to Determine What Size Prey to Feed Your Snake:

Most snakes should be fed a size of prey that is about the same size around as the snake's body at its widest point. This means that as a snake grows, you will have to adjust the size of prey fed to the snake to accommodate the snake's increasing size.

If you have a hard time judging how big around your snake is compared to the size of prey at the pet store, simply take the measurement around your snake at the widest part of its body. If you take a piece of string cut to that measurement to the pet store, you can do a quick check of the circumference of the prey available to find the best match. It doesn't have to be an exact measurement, however; smaller or slightly larger prey is fine too and a bit of variety never hurts.

Very small hatchlings can be started on pinky mice (newborn mice) and then graduated to larger sizes (the main terms used are fuzzies, hoppers, weaned mice or weanlings, then large and extra large adult). If you have a species of snake that grows large enough that rats will be fed eventually, it is a good idea to switch to rats while the snake is still young to get them used to eating rats rather than mice. Younger rats that are equivalent in size to older mice can be used. Rats are named with a similar progression: pinkies, fuzzies, pups, weanlings, then small through extra large adults).

Snakes have unique jaws that allow them to swallow prey that is larger than their head, but your snake may have difficulties digesting overly large items, resulting in regurgitation.

How to Switch Your Snake From Live to Frozen Prey:

Getting your snake to switch to frozen food is a fairly simple task. There are many reasons that feeding frozen food is the best option.

Making the switch from live to frozen means youíll want to have a few items handy:

Rubber gloves (remember to avoid latex if you are allergic to it)

Feeding tongs or hemostats (ask your local pet store)

Zip lock bags, and

A container that you can sacrifice for your snakes

Weíve found the best method for getting our snakes to eat frozen is as follows:

(1) Make sure the snake is hungry. Skipping a feeding for a week will help out with this.

(2) Thaw out the frozen food by putting it in a zip lock bag and submerging that in hot water in a container. Refer to our section on how to thaw frozen feeders.

(3) Place the thawed rodent in the thawing container after emptying the water and set it right next to the snakeís tank. Leave it there for about 30 to 45 minutes. This is called pre-scenting the room and it basically gets the snakeís attention.

(4) Wait about 20 to 30 minutes with the room being pre-scented and then hold the rodent up to a heat lamp for about 10 or 15 seconds. You donít want to cook the rodent at all, only heat it up a little bit. Snakes that hunt by heat detection will appreciate your efforts as well as those which hunt by smell.

(5) Present the rodent to the snake using tongs. Donít jam it in your snakeís face, let the snake come to the rodent. It can take several minutes before the snake investigates. All the while hold the rodent with the tongs and donít just throw it in the cage and leave. Once the snake is interested in the rodent and is approaching move it around a little with the tongs. That will give it the appearance of life. We canít honestly say if snakes care on way or another but it seems to help in most instances.

Remember, patience is a virtue and it will eventually pay off. Weíve sat there for 2 hours playing ďcat and mouseĒ with the snake and the rodents at the end of the tongs before the snake either ate or crawled off into its den. If the snake strikes and eats great, but it might not happen the first time.

Why it is Best to Feed a Snake Frozen Food:

 (1) First and foremost is the health and safety of your snake. There have been many cases of rodents killing a snake that was supposed to have eaten them. If the snake doesnít want to eat it wonít kill the rodent. The rodent will run around the tank for a while and will then start gnawing on the snake. Your snake wonít defend itself, nor will it be able to get away. A frozen rodent, on the other hand, obviously wonít be chewing on your snake. NEVER, EVER leave a live rodent in with a snake unless under direct supervision.

(2) Youíll need a place to care for the living rodents that arenít eaten by the snake. It is much easier to buy 50 or 100 frozen mice from some place like Rodents on the Road and store them in your freezer than to keep live mice. Besides mice stink really bad!

(3) A snake constricting a living creature is a pretty brutal way to die. It is not peaceful or pleasant by any stretch of the imagination.

Rats Versus Mice for Snake Food:

This is basically preference. In my personal opinion when a snake is going to be large enough to consume a rat, than feed rats. Most snakes as babies will not be large enough to eat rats. Most people start off using mice and then switch over to rats as soon as they are able. I have seen studies that say rats have better nutrients that mice or that rats become too fatty. It depends on where the animal comes from and what diet they are being fed. Make sure when you buy rodents, mice or rats, that they are fed a rodent diet and not dog food or pig food.

You must take into account how big your snake is going to become. You do not want to feed a large boa or python 20 mice a week when you could feed one rat. You might say Iím exaggerating, but think about it. You need to consider how much money you are going to spend and how much gram weight you are getting for your money.†


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