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Mus Musculus & Rattus Novegicus


Humane prep of Mice and Rats for Reptile Prey

We have all heard the debates for and against feeding live or pre-killed prey.  It really comes down to a personal choice of preferences.  Once the choice has been made however; if pre-killed prey is desired you must decide how to humanely kill the prey. Stanford University (page 6 and 7) has decided that CO2 is the most humane method of pre-killing rodents meant for consumption by other animals.  CO2 is a natural by-product created when mammals exhale~so nothing foreign is introduced into the prey item.

You may print this pic for your own use, but please do not steal my pics and use them as your own, they are a lot of work for me to take nice pics!

So, now you need to set up a cost effective CO2 chamber to do the pre-killing.  This is not nearly as complicated as it sounds when first starting out.  The initial cost of the set up in my picture was around $100.  After that initial investment the only recurring cost is $2 per fill on the CO2 tank.  I do approximately 15-30 mice and/or juvenile rats per week, and usually fill the CO2 tank about every 2 to 3 months at that rate.

First, go to your local paintball store (Welding supply may also have these items) and obtain a CO2 tank, CO2 release valve and a “Remote” (the hose that runs from the tank to the kill tank).  Show the picture to the nice man at the paint ball store, he can find all those pieces for you.  An adapter to fit the end of the “Remote” will be helpful, but not absolutely necessary.

Next you will need a Kill tank, a container for water, an air hose and a sealant.  I got the “Kill tank” (Tall plastic container with tight fitting lid) at Wal-Mart.  Any tall container will work, but be sure it has a tight fitting lid.  Also, the one in my picture is NOT large enough for adult rats.  My water container is just an old pickle jar.  Anything will work as your water container; it only needs to be deep enough to hold the loose end of the air hose under water.  The air hose in my pic is a fish tank air supply hose (Yep, Wal-mart!) you may want to go with a slightly larger hose, but that one works.  You will also need a good sealant.  I used a hot glue gun, but caulking will work as well.

Now that you’ve been shopping, let’s assemble

Drill a hole in the bottom of the kill tank large enough to accommodate your “CO2 Remote” (or that adapter I mentioned above).  The CO2 needs to go in the bottom of the kill tank as CO2 is heavier than Oxygen.  Be sure to seal around the CO2 hose/adapter as air tight as possible.

Drill a hole near the top for the Air tube.  Again, be sure to seal around it as tight as possible, and make sure it is at the top of the kill tank to exhaust air from the kill tank.  DO NOT let the air tube become kinked.


Now you’re ready to begin

Place a paper towel in the bottom of the kill tank (to absorb urine) add the rodents (Don't overcrowd or they will become urine soaked paper towel or not) and tightly seal kill tank.  Fill water container, place end of exhaust tube under the water level.  I used to prime the kill tank with CO2 before introducing the rodents, but have since begun placing the rodents in first and very slowly seep the CO2 into the kill tank.  Once the rodents appear to fall asleep I go ahead and finish flooding the tank with CO2.  I see much less struggling and gasping with this slower method.  Be sure the air tube stays in the water so oxygen can not creep back into the kill tank via the exhaust.

Again~ If you see the rodents in distress you are adding the CO2 too quickly.   Just add a little very slowly until they seem to fall asleep~ then flood the tank with CO2 to finish the job.

Do not remove the rodents until you are SURE they are dead or they will wake up!  I usually leave adults approx. 5 minutes; juveniles for approx. 8 minutes.  Pinkie’s are not suited to CO2 euthanasia.  They are naturally resistant to hypoxia, and will die much more quickly and efficiently if placed unprotected directly into the freezer.

Step One

Step Two

Step Three

Start with a Tub-O-Mice (try not to notice how cute they are!)

Don't overfill the kill tank or the lower mice will be soaked in urine

Get as much air as possible out of the bags.  They will keep for up to a year (Maybe more?) like this

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Thanks for Visiting!

Cheryl Marchek


 I know a lot of people prefer not to use yahoo.com addresses
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We can exchange phone numbers if a deal is in progress


Please do not take my photo's as your own.
They were a lot of work for me to get decent photo's

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