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Posted by becgs on May 09, 2003 at 07:03:25:

In Reply to: FEEDING DOG FOOD posted by mossman on May 09, 2003 at 05:34:05:

JP --

You asked for a simple answer to a simple question... I don't have any hard facts behind this, just basic research such as what you've done. So here's my opinion.... Based on sheer numbers (and my understanding of statistics/probability) there are simply too many people who feed dog food to too many rodents which are then fed to too many herps for too many years for it to be feasible to claim that it's not healthy for your snakes!
At the end of this (long) post I put a couple links found useful as resources -- one gives a breakdown of the nutritional contents of various lab animals and also does the same thing for various lab chows. The other is a good reference for related information. Feel free to skip all my speculating (ie rambling) and head to the links - they're worth a gander!

Your question brings up some interesting concepts. I've been reading forums and other sources since I got my first snake about 6 years ago.

Here's my two (or more) cents.... as always, I'm open to corrections/critiques etc.

In "the wild" snakes are opportunistic hunters. This tells me that there's some flexibility in what you feed your snakes. Most agree, for example, that feeding off a rodent with tumors or with illness is an acceptable practice. This makes sense in many ways but does not address the issue that anything a rodent ingests will become what your snakes ingest.

Also, once you take a reptile into captivity, you are wise to NOT try duplicate "the wild." Snakes in the wild don't live long etc. You instead try to provide the best husbandry you can by mimicking "the wild" and then improving on it. Still, given the nature of snakes and their needs, I think this too would leave flexibility regarding what you feed to your feeders.

Possibly some of the controversies you've read about in your research included mention of the red dye and other chemicals or preservatives that are in the ingredients list of dog foods (and lab chow too.) Obviously these things are not part of the natural food chain for rodents OR herps.

Unless I'm way off here, evidence points to the fact that the majority of rodent breeders -- large scale and small -- DO feed some sort of "processed" rodent food - be it dog chow or lab blocks. I wonder about numbers -- what percentage of feeder breeders feed just dog food or lab chow, or one/both with additional food items as supplements. Because realistically what other choice do we have? Catching rodents in the wild? Creating a hand-mixed combination of grains and produce that exactly mimics the rodent's "natural" diet? From what I've read over the years, I think it's safe to say that most folks go with dog food or lab blocks as a basic diet.

It just seems to me that if the dog food was indeed harmful to the snakes (short term or long) we'd be hearing all sorts of stories about it and people would NOT feed it to their rodents. Although some of us do become "attached" to varying degrees to the rodents themselves, and may provide more complicated food-mixes for them, when all is said and done..... they are, as you said, food for our herps. And it's the health requirements of the herp that makes us "cater" to the health of the rodent.

I'd think that statistically speaking, if the "other things" listed in the ingredients of rodent foods had a harmful affect on herps that we'd be hearing far more tales about this.

And yet, with all of that said... you actually DO want your rodents to be healthy -- at least healthy 'enough' -- because you want what your snake's diet to be nutritionally adequate. This would mean some basic rodent husbandry is important. Whatever you feed your rodents must be such that your rodents have the protein/fat etc. content that your snakes need.

Okay, enough is enough from me! Here are those links.....
(lots of good stuff here)
(check the rodent size chart link and also the 'additional links' for related information)


:I have read a lot of posts on this forum and have not come up w/ a defenite answer. Is feeding dog food to my rats and mice harmful to my SNAKES? I know they will eat it (the rats and mice) and I know they will produce offspring while eating it, but what I want to know is YES or NO is feeding the dog food harmful for my SNAKES? Not the rodents! And I don't care if one will produce more babies or that the rodents will be happier. I just want to know if it is going to hurt my snakes. Very simple question, demanding a very simple answer. I know this question has sparked much debate before but like I said all I want to know is will it hurt my snakes. The rodents to me are just food for my snakes.

:I have started a colony, just a week ago, and have been feeding them dog chow. I know that some are prgnant already and they apper to be healthy. But if feeding this to the rodents will harm my animals (snakes) I will stop feeding the dog chow immediately. I have been told both.One, that it is fine and two, that it is not so good. So now I look to the infinate wisdom of the kingsnake forum for a defenite answer to this compelling question. Thanks for your knowledge and advice in advance.


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