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Is it necessary to feed my pet reptile live prey such as mice?

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.

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.

Updated on April 30, 2019
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