Whether you use frozen rats or frozen mice for your pet snake, the benefits are the same. The key to making the most out of this food source, however, is proper preparation. Before we dive into how to do this, let’s briefly cover why using frozen rats or mice are so beneficial.
Why Use Frozen Rodents At All?
Pre-killed and frozen rodents offer the same convenience and value we find when shopping in the frozen aisle of the grocery store. In both cases, the food is frozen quickly at peak freshness, allowing it to maintain its nutritional integrity; they are easy to store and can last much longer than their live counterparts; the lack of waste ends up making frozen items much more economical in the long run. However, the most important benefit of all is one of safety. Frozen rodents prevent your snake from risking injury from the teeth and nails of live prey.
Preparing Frozen Rats
Using frozen prey to feed your pet snake is a two-part process of first thawing it and then, making it appetizing. The thawing portion of preparation isn’t just so that it tastes better, it’s a necessity for your snake’s digestion. Being cold-blooded animals, the icy cold of frozen food can bring their metabolism and digestive functions to a glacial pace. This in turn could result in indigestion or worse, your snake throwing up, which can eventually turn fatal. Thawing is the first and most crucial step of properly feeding snakes frozen rodents.
Two Ways To Defrost
There are two methods to thawing a rodent: the quick method, and the slow method. The quick involves submerging the frozen rat in a bowl under cool water and allowing it to sit out at room temperature for up to an hour. The slower method simply requires putting the frozen rat into the fridge for around 24 hours.
“Why would anyone opt for the slow method?” you are probably wondering. The longer defrosting period holds multiple benefits. Unlike the quick method where the rat is sitting out in the open air and could potentially spoil if left out too long or if the temperature is too warm, the refrigerated rat doesn’t need monitoring–just put it in and close the door. In a similar vein, fridge-thawed rats keep longer in their defrosted state and therefore don’t have to be used immediately afterward, which is helpful if it turns out your snake isn’t hungry that day.
Tips For Defrosting
- To maintain the integrity of the rodent, put it in a separate, water-proof bag for either defrosting method
- Never use the microwave to thaw, it will likely cook the rodent (and unevenly at that), as well as potentially making it too hot for your snake
- Don’t refreeze thawed mice. Bacteria can grow very quickly making them unsafe to eat. Plus, the thawing allows decomposition to resume so the rodent could become mushy and unappetizing
- Once the rat is thawed, dip it in warm broth to raise the food’s temperate and to give it an appealing smell if necessary .