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cost of raising rodents

This is a discussion on cost of raising rodents within the Feeder Rodents forums, part of the Feeders category; Has anyone done a real cost analysis on what it really costs to raise mice and rats as feeders? Currently ...

  1. #1
    quality serpents's Avatar
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    cost of raising rodents

    Has anyone done a real cost analysis on what it really costs to raise mice and rats as feeders? Currently I buy frozen rodents from either mice direct or rodent pro. I watch when I buy and normally get XL adult mice for .35 and pinky mice for .08-.10. I'm sure raising them would be cheaper, I'm just trying to decide how much and is it worth it. Thanks for any input.

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    Depends on how much extra time you have....for me raising is cheaper than frozen but I have over 100+ animals to feed. It takes 3 to 5 hours a week to maintain my 8 racks.
    Jenea



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    A few things to consider other than cost:

    1. Rats and mice stink. Can you deal with the smell? The kind of smell that sticks to your clothes.

    2. It's a bit of work. You'll need to clean tubs, top off water and food, and check for leaks, chewouts and so forth. Time is money.

    3. They need space. You'll need to have a place to keep them. Due to #1, you probably won't want them inside your home. I have a friend who keeps his rats in his garage, and even with the garage door opened all day, it still stinks in there. I have a dedicated sealed room with exhaust that completely clears out the air in there and it stinks as well.

    4. Euthanization. Either by you or by snake. Can you stomach killing rodents or watching your snake take the life of a rodent? It's not usually an issue, but some people have problems with it.

    The only reason I raise my own rodents is because not all of my snakes will eat frozen. If I could get all my snakes to eat frozen, including hatchlings, I wouldn't be raising my own. They are a hassle and a fair amount of work.

    That being said, rats can be really cool to work with, and sometimes pretty darn cute, so it's not all bad.

    I know I didn't answer your question. I don't know the answer, but I do know there is more to it than just the dollar amounts saved.
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    They do stink really bad except the first day you clean.....
    Jenea



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    I ahve around 80 snakes and hatchlings hatching to feed my cost for the past 2 months is $0 and have enough food and bedding to last another 2 months. I sale extra rodents and thats what buys my rodent food and bedding. If it wasnt for selling rodents it would cost me about $100 and I probably feed off about 400 rats a month.

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    Check out Mookfu's website Metal Monkey Exotics

    He did a cost analysis
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    quality serpents's Avatar
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    Thanks guys, the information has been helpful.
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    I keep multiple species of snakes. At any given time I have around 50 tp 100 snakes depending on season. I breed my own rats and rabbits. I also raise a few chickens. For me the cost of breeding my own is much cheaper than ordering frozen for no other fact than the big snakes I have. Trying to feed large boas and pythons gets very expensive when you order. With my breeding colony I spend roughly $100 a month on food and bedding. Takes me roughly 6 to 8 hrs a week to keep everything up but I also have a wife and 4 kids that help a lot with them.
    Chris

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    Quote Originally Posted by CapeFearConstrictors View Post
    A few things to consider other than cost:

    1. Rats and mice stink. Can you deal with the smell? The kind of smell that sticks to your clothes.

    2. It's a bit of work. You'll need to clean tubs, top off water and food, and check for leaks, chewouts and so forth. Time is money.

    3. They need space. You'll need to have a place to keep them. Due to #1, you probably won't want them inside your home. I have a friend who keeps his rats in his garage, and even with the garage door opened all day, it still stinks in there. I have a dedicated sealed room with exhaust that completely clears out the air in there and it stinks as well.

    4. Euthanization. Either by you or by snake. Can you stomach killing rodents or watching your snake take the life of a rodent? It's not usually an issue, but some people have problems with it.

    The only reason I raise my own rodents is because not all of my snakes will eat frozen. If I could get all my snakes to eat frozen, including hatchlings, I wouldn't be raising my own. They are a hassle and a fair amount of work.

    That being said, rats can be really cool to work with, and sometimes pretty darn cute, so it's not all bad.

    I know I didn't answer your question. I don't know the answer, but I do know there is more to it than just the dollar amounts saved.
    Very true especially 1,2,and 3. The main reason I raise my own rodents is then I always have the right size feeders for my GTP's. Like new born pinkies for newly hatched GTP's first meal. If they don't eat, I just put the pinkie back with momma mouse. Beats thawing and throwing them away

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    Quote Originally Posted by CapeFearConstrictors View Post
    A few things to consider other than cost:

    1. Rats and mice stink. Can you deal with the smell? The kind of smell that sticks to your clothes.
    *** i would have to say mice smell more than rats. yes, a person can get used to the smell....after time of course. and yes that smell stays on you for several hours after you leave the rodent room....so imagin if you breed them in your house....i know of some people that do

    2. It's a bit of work. You'll need to clean tubs, top off water and food, and check for leaks, chewouts and so forth. Time is money.
    ***yes it's work that's for sure....but you need to set up a routine and perfect it. and remember to keep in mind the extra costs to come along with it....tubs, tubing, bedding, feed...etc.

    3. They need space. You'll need to have a place to keep them. Due to #1, you probably won't want them inside your home. I have a friend who keeps his rats in his garage, and even with the garage door opened all day, it still stinks in there. I have a dedicated sealed room with exhaust that completely clears out the air in there and it stinks as well.
    ***i don't think there is anything that can completely knock out the smell....if there's rats/mice....there's smell....no other way going around it. the person cleaning will get used to it....

    4. Euthanization. Either by you or by snake. Can you stomach killing rodents or watching your snake take the life of a rodent? It's not usually an issue, but some people have problems with it.
    ***if you need to put a mass to sleep....the easiest and fastest way is Co2

    The only reason I raise my own rodents is because not all of my snakes will eat frozen. If I could get all my snakes to eat frozen, including hatchlings, I wouldn't be raising my own. They are a hassle and a fair amount of work.
    ***i have some snakes that fall in each category....live, thawed, and pre-killed. knowing your snake and feeding certain ones first can help you out from having to toss out dead feeders.

    That being said, rats can be really cool to work with, and sometimes pretty darn cute, so it's not all bad.
    ***i've made my own strain from breeding rats. they are cool and you can see genetic results much faster than in snakes.....keeps you busy when waiting for eggs to hatch

    I do know there is more to it than just the dollar amounts saved.
    ***100% agree
    ***my comments are not meant for the original poster, but for Quality Serpents to read. as long as i have snakes i will breed my own feeders...period!

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    My figures go like this.
    2 bales of Aspen and 3 bags of food cost me $71. This lasted me two month almost exactly. During that time I fed 16 snakes every 6 days. All my snakes are pretty good eaters so not many meals were missed. So you figure 60 days ten meals for 16 snakes that's 160 ASF's @ about 44 cents per. And that's not including the other rats that weren't fed off so in reality it's prob much less.

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    Quote Originally Posted by quality serpents View Post
    Currently I buy frozen rodents from either mice direct or rodent pro. I watch when I buy and normally get XL adult mice for .35 and pinky mice for .08-.10. I'm sure raising them would be cheaper
    Are you factoring in shipping costs? 35 cents for an XL mouse is very cheap if that's what you're actually paying. You could not do it cheaper on your own for all the reasons listed above.

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    You're killing yourself keeping rats on aspen, that stuff is way over priced.I'm not saying you're wrong just tossing it out there as food for thought.
    "Oh Mrs. Crane, you wore green so you could hide from me. You're a little monkey woman. You're lean and you're mean and you're not too far between, either, I bet, are ya, huh? How'd you like to wrap your spikes around my head?"

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    Cinderella Boy

    50lb bags of shredded aspen, made by american excelsior

    5 dollars
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    I dont have an actual analysis, but I would say I spend about $20 a month for food, and $25 a month for bedding, I spent about $250 total or one five high and one six high rat rack including tubs and watering system. I have 11 snakes to feed. All get fed as much as they will eat, most at least every 4-5 days.
    I spend about 2-3 hours a week cleaning and feeding and watering the rodents. I think ounce for ounce, mice smell the worst, asfs the least and norway rats are in the middle. Norways smell most definitely, but I think if mice were that big they would smell a lot worse than Norways.
    I sell about 50-75 rodents a month which makes me about $100.
    I raise asfs, mice and rats. All in my house, I could very well be used to the smell, but I havent had people that come over say my house stinks or anything.
    They very well could just be being kind, lol.
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    Yikes, I don't know WTH the deal is with that stuff down here, but they charge like it's gold or something.
    "Oh Mrs. Crane, you wore green so you could hide from me. You're a little monkey woman. You're lean and you're mean and you're not too far between, either, I bet, are ya, huh? How'd you like to wrap your spikes around my head?"

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnNJ View Post
    Are you factoring in shipping costs? 35 cents for an XL mouse is very cheap if that's what you're actually paying. You could not do it cheaper on your own for all the reasons listed above.
    Actually I just made a purchase and the price has gone up some. Now with the quantity discount, the XL mice are .45 and that is before shipping. I normally order 500-1000 mice at a time of varying sizes and shipping is normally around $35-40. So I'd say the actual cost is now closer to .48-.50/mouse. Still seems unlikely I could raise them cheaper according to what I've read in this thread.
    Quote Originally Posted by bbgeckoguy
    I dont have an actual analysis, but I would say I spend about $20 a month for food, and $25 a month for bedding, I spent about $250 total or one five high and one six high rat rack including tubs and watering system. I have 11 snakes to feed. All get fed as much as they will eat, most at least every 4-5 days.
    I spend about 2-3 hours a week cleaning and feeding and watering the rodents. I think ounce for ounce, mice smell the worst, asfs the least and norway rats are in the middle. Norways smell most definitely, but I think if mice were that big they would smell a lot worse than Norways.
    I sell about 50-75 rodents a month which makes me about $100.
    I raise asfs, mice and rats. All in my house, I could very well be used to the smell, but I havent had people that come over say my house stinks or anything.
    They very well could just be being kind, lol.
    For not being an actual analysis, that is some very helpfuld info. Thanks.
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    Quote Originally Posted by quality serpents View Post
    For not being an actual analysis, that is some very helpfuld info. Thanks.
    LOL! Cheeky
    But all in all, I feel like I get my rodents for free, I feel like I even make a couple bucks, I may not be including something, but that is all I can think of cost wise.
    Although on a more philosophical note, how much do we value our time?
    Not to sound silly, but I do not have the skills that you do and because of that, I am certain I do not make as much money as you do. Therefore I may not value the 10 or so hours a month I spend caring for the rodents as much as you should.
    That might not be strictly sticking to the thread but its a thought
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    Thing to remember Shane, is that you can always sell your surplus at shows, locally, or even to your local pet store (live and frozen)...this can pay for the upkeep and then some depending on your market.
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    I use to work at a reptile center and we put alittle bit of vanilla extract in thier water bottles and they really helped with the urine smell.
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    Quote Originally Posted by FloridaHogs View Post
    Thing to remember Shane, is that you can always sell your surplus at shows, locally, or even to your local pet store (live and frozen)...this can pay for the upkeep and then some depending on your market.
    That is something I hadn't really thought of. So now that I've got a rough idea what it's going to cost, how many breeder mice is it going to take to feed 100 breeder colubrids, another 30 or so yearling colubrids and hatchlings? I don't really have enough rat eaters to make it worth raising rats I don't think.
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    it cost me about $300 a month for food (5m30) & pine but i feed off 200 pinky mice, 30 mice and 35 rats per week and my deep freezer is always full.. in the winter months when the corns are being cooled i cut down on the mice racks and that saves about $100 off the feed cost.. I use 3 50lb bags of 5m30 & 4 bales of pine per week.

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    I was always told you need 1 female breeder per snake you wish to feed. I personally always said F that and went way bigger than I needed and like everyone else was saying sell any extras and make some money off them.

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    We've always raised our own feeders but it's been years since I've done any kind of cost analysis really. For me it's about quality control. What I could get from pet store feeder bins, reptile show vendors, even online f/t supplies was way too inconsistent for my liking. Maybe I'm a control freak (okay I am) but I love knowing exactly what goes into my rats and then into my snakes because I put it there myself.

    We generally have about 1 adult breeding female rat per snake with a few "spares" to help out some snake owning friends or in case a female croaks out or loses her litter for some reason. Seems to work out pretty well. We rotate two unrelated males throughout all our females to avoid too much inbreeding health issues.

    Biggest cost to me is my time. The rat care is time consuming but worth it. Other than that they are pretty handy in cleaning up all my kitchen/garden scraps as a supplement to their regular food. Rats - the ultimate recyclers!

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    Raising your own rodents is cheap if you have some spare time. I couldn't afford to feed my collection otherwise. I spent about ~$300 for 6 months of beding and feed for my colony. I also breed mice and use the same bedding/feed. I built all my own racks and do all my own upkeep. It sure is nice to be able to offer any size, any time to any snake. I have fantastic growth on all my snakes. I also sell on Craigslist for feeders and fancy pets which pays for almost all of my supplies.

    Regards,

    B

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    Quote Originally Posted by Breaking Balls View Post
    Raising your own rodents is cheap if you have some spare time. I couldn't afford to feed my collection otherwise. I spent about ~$300 for 6 months of beding and feed for my colony. I also breed mice and use the same bedding/feed. I built all my own racks and do all my own upkeep. It sure is nice to be able to offer any size, any time to any snake. I have fantastic growth on all my snakes. I also sell on Craigslist for feeders and fancy pets which pays for almost all of my supplies.

    Regards,

    B
    Am I missing something...? I thought it was against the rules to sell animals on Craigslist?

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    It is against the rules to sell pets, but not food.......
    Jenea



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    Quote Originally Posted by FloridaHogs View Post
    It is against the rules to sell pets, but not food.......
    Sweet! Thank you sir!

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    Quote Originally Posted by SOCOReptiles View Post
    Sweet! Thank you sir!
    Errr... Umm mam... Lol

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    Quote Originally Posted by SOCOReptiles View Post
    Sweet! Thank you sir!
    Quote Originally Posted by SOCOReptiles View Post
    Errr... Umm mam... Lol

    LOL, it's OK
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    I sell food. I also post "pairs" of same sex for a small rehoming fee. Ultimately it just gets people to email me and then I let them pick whatever they want.. So what if I rehome a lot of pairs a month? I just change my ads up and reword things. I rarely get flagged. You would think the tree hugging humaniacs would flag my "Feeder" posts but they always flag the "Rehoming Pair of Fancy Rats" posts. LOL. Go figure.

    Regards,

    B

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    Quote Originally Posted by FloridaHogs View Post
    Depends on how much extra time you have....for me raising is cheaper than frozen but I have over 100+ animals to feed. It takes 3 to 5 hours a week to maintain my 8 racks.
    How many tubs are in your rack? How many in each tub? Thats a lot of racks.

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    My wife said she'd kill me if I said I'm going to raise rodents. Lucky for her (and me), I can't stand the smell of the ones I bring home once a week to feed. There's no way I could bare the smell or upkeep of rats. I hate them! (use tongs every time I feed LOL) I usually end up with a couple of leftovers, but they get eaten within a day or two. In a perfect world, I'd feed everyone frozen. Hopefully when I get some hatchlings this year, they will all go on frozen. As for my breeders, they are mostly live eaters. Don't know how you guys do it…I guess if I had a detached shed or something outback that it would be ok, but I'd never keep live rats in my house or garage. Did I just say "never"??? Uh-oh……...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Diesel Ball Python View Post
    How many tubs are in your rack? How many in each tub? Thats a lot of racks.
    6 tubs per rack 1:4 or 5 per tub ( for the rats) 2:8 for the mice.
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    so Shane what's the verdict.....you breeding mice now or what???

    Pitoon

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pitoon View Post
    so Shane what's the verdict.....you breeding mice now or what???

    Pitoon
    Nope. Still buying them frozen. It's really a space issue with me more than anything. If it was going to save me a ton of money, I'd make room. But since it looks like that's not the case, I guess for now I'll just keep buying them.
    Shane Whitaker D.V.M.
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    I have about 40 tubs of breeders and weanlings.
    It costs me about $85 a month in feed (200 lbs of feed at $85)
    $40 a month in pine bedding.
    I sell enough mice to cover the feed, and trade mice for the bedding at the local feed store.
    Establishing a reliable customer base is key. Also I live in a rural setting so the smell is not an issue. The used bedding makes awesome compost for the garden! I like my mice, and have several colors going and get 14 to 20 young per litter.

    If I lived in an urban setting this mouse thing would be impossible.

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    [quote=Wild West Geckos;686131]My wife said she'd kill me if I said I'm going to raise rodents. Lucky for her (and me), I can't stand the smell of the ones I bring home once a week to feed. There's no way I could bare the smell or upkeep of rats. I hate them! (use tongs every time I feed LOL) I usually end up with a couple of leftovers, but they get eaten within a day or two. In a perfect world, I'd feed everyone frozen. Hopefully when I get some hatchlings this year, they will all go on frozen. As for my breeders, they are mostly live eaters. Don't know how you guys do it
    - Osy. ~

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    Pine pellets are the cure for the smell. I keep my growouts and breeders on pine pellets. I separate pregnant moms and once the babies hit two weeks old, they get put on pine pellets too (with some shavings as well). At full capacity, I have about 400-500 rodents at any given time, and even a week after cleaning, the smell is faint compared to when I kept everything on pine shavings.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CapeFearConstrictors View Post
    Pine pellets are the cure for the smell. I keep my growouts and breeders on pine pellets. I separate pregnant moms and once the babies hit two weeks old, they get put on pine pellets too (with some shavings as well). At full capacity, I have about 400-500 rodents at any given time, and even a week after cleaning, the smell is faint compared to when I kept everything on pine shavings.
    What sort of pine pellets? The kind for horse stalls or the stove kind?

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    I get them from the farm supply, they are for horse stalls. Just make sure they are kiln dried.
    Josh
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    Quote Originally Posted by CapeFearConstrictors View Post
    I get them from the farm supply, they are for horse stalls. Just make sure they are kiln dried.
    Thanks! I will check it out tomorrow at the feed store and see if it will be cost effective.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CapeFearConstrictors View Post
    Pine pellets are the cure for the smell. I keep my growouts and breeders on pine pellets. I separate pregnant moms and once the babies hit two weeks old, they get put on pine pellets too (with some shavings as well). At full capacity, I have about 400-500 rodents at any given time, and even a week after cleaning, the smell is faint compared to when I kept everything on pine shavings.
    I also keep all of my rodents on pine pellets. I am running around 150 breeder female rats and twice that number of mice and out of the 2, the mice are worse on the smell. I have a separate barn that I keep them in so its not an issue, but I save a ton of money raising my own rodents. I only feed live and at least for me, my BP's seem to grow faster and get to size quicker than local breeders who are feeding F/T. If I had to buy live rodents every week, it would cost me around $350 a week. I dont spend near that amount raising them myself. I buy my rodent feed in bulk and get it a little cheaper than buying small quantities. I buy my pine pellets and Pine shavings at TSC.

    I took a hard hit on my breeder female rats last summer during our record heat/drought. My air conditioner in my barn went out on a day it was 117 degrees outside and I lost about 45 pregnant females in one shot, plus a few breeder males. Now THAT is a bad smell. We have held back enough females that we are back on schedule and its all down hill and shady.

    Dan Hoffman

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    I found them to not be cost-effective, when I tried them. You have to use a large quantity to cover the bottom reasonably, and the rodents will fill it up with droppings every week, so you have to change it all, anyhow.
    I use pine shavings. Cheap, controls odor, and provides good footing for them. Because it's light and fluffy, I can use less, and still change the bins weekly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wild West Reptile View Post
    My wife said she'd kill me if I said I'm going to raise rodents. Lucky for her (and me), I can't stand the smell of the ones I bring home once a week to feed. .
    In their defense, nervous rodents being transported create an unholy stench like nothing else, and calm rodents in bins aren't anywhere near as stinky. They do smell, but if you change the bedding frequently, it doesn't permeate things that way.

    I don't like them either, and they're a lot more labor than the reptiles, but it can be cost-effective to raise at least a few of them.

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    Pine pellets for weaned and up

    Pine shavings from TSC for the expecting and nursing moms
    Trevor AKA Dimebag

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    I think I will stick with the pine bedding. It is the cheapest option.
    Soiled mouse bedding makes the most awesome compost for the garden!

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    If you mean an actual breakdown of cents per rodent invested from feed, water bills, electricity, etc, then I couldn't tell you. I can say, after 9 months of breeding my own rodents, the investment of time is what caused me to quit breeding my own rodents.

    If you have a facility, such as an out-building on your own property, to raise them in that can address the odor issue, then you will certainly save money over purchasing rodents. I was renting a warehouse space, and the rent + Mazuri rodent chow + cost of A/C in summer, coupled with three to four hours cleaning twice weekly, made me go back to purchasing rodents.

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    Off the cuff analysis of cost to produce our rodents.
    ~$13 a week in pine bedding = $676 yearly
    ~$30 a week in food (Ziegler) = $1560 yearly
    ~$100 yearly in replacement tubs/bins, trashbags, masks, gloves and other misc.
    ~6hrs weekly cleaning/feeding/watering
    Producing ~ 500-700 rats per month = $0.28 to $0.39 per rat not counting the ~1200 asf's we produce.

    Well worth the investment as we could not afford to sustain a large collection with out breeding our own rodents. Some times we still have to purchase rodents. Only a few times a year but other times we can sell our excess to pet stores and other enthusiasts in the area.

    However I must say if I could afford to have some one deliver me 150 rodents weekly I would do it in a heartbeat. Breeding rodents is not fun IMHO.

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    Dan W is offline Bush-League Lieutenant Lieutenant
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    That is a nice breakdown kellysballs. How many rats do you have and how many tubs?

    Dan

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