My albino corn snake Sammy has been a fixture in my life for the past 13 years. I received him (or her? not sure which) from my high school girlfriend in 1997. At the time Sammy wasn’t much bigger than a pencil. Now he is 4+ feet and lives in a 40 gallon terrarium on my desk at work here at the PETCO National Support Center.
Since day 1 Sammy has been on a live food diet. He started with pinkies (hairless, baby mice), moved to fuzzies, and eventually adult mice. I won’t go into the gory details of the feeding process but it’s a lot like watching a nature show on TV.
In writing for this blog I’ve been spending a lot more time with animal care team at PETCO. These are the folks who write our animal care sheets and advise stores on the best ways to feed and shelter our companion animals. Several of these folks having been giving me a hard time about feeding live mice to my snake. Devon in particular (who also writes for this this blog) has been telling me that I should switch Sammy to frozen mice.
I resisted making the switch to frozen because, in all honesty, I was lazy and feeding live mice was all I knew. While I hadn’t given it a great deal of thought, feeding live mice just felt more natural. In hindsight I realize that this isn’t a very strong argument since albino snakes are specifically bred for their coloration (not natural), live in a glass-enclosed environment indoors (not natural), and are completely safe from predators (not natural).
I presented my natural argument to Devon along with a few other limp excuses. She pointed me to this excellent article on petco.com, Feeding Frozen/Thawed Foods, which soundly defeated my protests.
So, on one of my regular visits to my local PETCO to pick up mice for my snake I sauntered over to the freezer section near the aquariums. Sure enough, they had 1-packs and 3-packs of frozen mice all ready to go. They were cheaper than the live mice as well. On the way to the cash register I read the directions on the back and came across this perplexing warning: “Not for human consumption.” That doesn’t seem like a necessary caution to put on the packaging in my opinion but they do say on the back of glass cleaner that you shouldn’t spray it in your eyes.
Now back at the office I plopped my frozen mouse-in-a-bag in a glass of warm water and waited. An hour or so later I felt through the bag that the mouse was completely thawed. I opened the bag and set the mouse in the tank with Sammy just like I usually do with live mice (Note: Before you point it out, I know I should be feeding my snake in a separate enclosure. I agree with this suggestion but Sammy and I have been together long enough that he knows my hands aren’t food. I wouldn’t recommend this if you have a new snake. OK, back to the story). As usual, Sammy poked his head out from under his hiding log and started exploring. He slithered right up to the mouse and gave it a thorough tongue-smelling. He hesitated only a few seconds and then *gulp* down the hatch, just like normal. He even started slithering around the tank rapidly as if saying “more please!”
If I had known it was this easy I would have switched years ago. Just remember, if you do keep frozen mice in your freezer, make sure to tell anyone who shares the freezer with you that they’re not for human consumption.
Do you have a pet that eats live or frozen food? What are your thoughts on this?