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Can I feed live mice to a reptile?

Article ID: 256
Last updated: 10 Jun, 2009
Revision: 1
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There are very few, if any, vertebrate-eating reptile species that will not eat anything other than live food in captivity. Where reptiles require a diet of whole vertebrate animals, such as mice, they should be provided with humanely pre-killed prey. Steps should be taken to increase the likelihood that the reptile will accept pre-killed prey, for example, ensuring a dead mouse carcass is adequately heated prior to offering it to a reptile.

Feeding live prey should only ever be considered when a reptile will not accept pre-killed prey and is expected to die from starvation if not offered live prey.

Is feeding live prey legal?

The legality of feeding live mice to reptiles depends upon the relevant State/Territory legislation and relevant code of practice. In some States, the code recommends that reptiles should not be fed live food for their own protection and all vertebrate-eating reptiles must be encouraged to take dead food. In others it is recommended that: live vertebrates are not used as a food unless they are required absolutely as a food source by a species or individual animal; live rodents should not be left in a reptile enclosure overnight or for an extended period; and wild-caught rodents should not be used. However, these codes of practice are not enforceable by law and are therefore recommendations only.
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