We solved our rodent problem. It’s not what you think.

I’ve shared before about our family’s pet snakes and how much we love them. I’ve also been open about the troubles Z and I have had over feeding one of them live mice and rats.

Our first snake, the queen Nagini, has always been a fairly easy keeper. Just defrost a frozen rat, warm it to an approximately lifelike temperature, and she’ll eat it. She’s a creature of habit and routine, and we appreciate that.

When we got our second Ball python, we knew she ate live mice but we believed we would be able to convince her to transition to frozen/thawed rodents relatively easily.

We tried for a year, unsuccessfully, and unfortunately wasted a lot of frozen/thawed mice that she refused to eat. All the while, Z and I continued to be traumatized by the process of feeding her live prey. It never got easier.

It’s not the actual death of the mouse that bothered us so much; that actually seems quite humane and is probably a better death than most mice get. No, it was the fact that we typically fell in love with the mice and young rats while we were caring for them and waiting for Daffodil to be hungry enough to strike, kill and eat them.

Owning a snake who only eats live prey was like having these cute, furry critters on Death Row and being the keepers who developed relationships with them prior to their execution. It simply was not a business we wanted to be in.

So, with a bit of regret but more than a little relief, we found a new home for our beautiful young Ball python Daffodil. We told her new family all about our struggle to convince Daffy to eat frozen/thawed prey, and they are up for the challenge. She has already eaten three times for them since the move, so we know Daffodil is doing well and thriving there.

Honestly, I sometimes wish Z and I could have gotten over our anxiety about feeding live prey. Daffodil is an exquisite and lovely snake in every other way. I would have loved to see her grow to Nagini’s impressive size!

In many ways, feeding live rodents to a snake is easier – you don’t have to worry about the sometimes complicated thawing and warming up of frozen rodents to body temperature. And, you can simply keep a tank of feeder mice on the ready, so you never have to worry about the local pet store running out of live feeder mice.

But on the other hand, it’s no fun keeping live mice because they STINK and their tank always needs to be cleaned. It’s preferable for us to keep a small, stand-alone freezer full of frozen rodents. That way it’s not too different from our own freezer full of steaks we’ve bought at the grocery store (except the snakes’ meat is just as nature made it, while ours is blissfully trimmed down to just the parts we eat).

In addition, there are other hazards to keeping live rodents in a house with snakes. For example, the smell of the furry critters can entice an otherwise well-behaved, giant Ball python to escape her enclosure – a scenario I do not want repeated!

For our household, the convenience of feeding a live mouse is more than overshadowed by the stresses of doing so. So for us, it’s better to have re-homed Daffodil. We hope she’ll bring her new family years of enjoyment and appreciation.

Now we are back to just two snakes: our beloved Nagini and our tiny Western hognose, Piglet. He’s such a cool little guy he probably deserves his own blog post. Sometime this winter, I’ll write about him or ask Zoe to do it!

Have you ever had to re-home a pet, and did you feel guilt or sadness about it? I feel better about this one than I did about re-homing furry pets in a past lifetime. Maybe the cold-blooded nature of snakes allows one to remain a little detached emotionally? But I think it’s mainly because we knew this was the truly best decision both for Daffodil and for us.

Snakes, man. They’re so cool you can’t have just one – but be sure you are absolutely fine with how a snake is fed before you welcome them into your home! I am confident we won’t be adding any more snakes, no matter how beautiful. Two is just the right number for us.

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About the author

Proud and loving midlife mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat, snake and guinea pig mom. Travel nut. Writer since birth. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.

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