Feeding the Snake

So we're trying to get Ratbane up to size, in the hope that he can go down and be a good basement dragon. For that reason we've been feeding him baby mice from the pet store. These (I have recently learned) come in several sizes, from "pinkies" who don't yet have hair, to older mice named "fuzzies" and then "jumpers."

The wife got tired of riding all the way to the pet store, so instead of buying just one mouse to feed him live, she bought several and froze them to death. (I would feel bad about freezing baby mice to death, if it weren't for the merciless war I have raged on their kind for the last two years.) Today it came time to feed the snake one of the pre-killed mice, which is more of a problem than it sounds like it ought to be.

Naturally the wife had somewhere to be today, so on her way out the door she asked me to microwave a dead frozen mouse and see if I could get the snake to eat it. "He might not," she said, "because he's never encountered a dead mouse before. But give it a try."

Well, so I did. I warmed up the dead mouse, and dropped him into the tank by the snake. The snake ignored him entirely, and when I came back later the snake was still paying the mouse no mind at all.

"OK," I thought, "clearly I need to get the snake's attention."

So I went and got one of those bamboo skewers you use for making kabobs, and I skewered the mouse through its side. Then, I used the skewer to bring the mouse over to the snake, and slapped him across the face with it.

He didn't seem to like that, so I smacked him with the mouse several more times until he curled up into a little ball. Then I dropped the mouse on him, and went away.

After a while, I got to thinking to myself, "That probably wasn't very mouse-like behavior. Perhaps it would have been more effective if...."

Apparently I'm not very good at simulating a prey animal.

However, when I went to check, the snake was eating the mouse, so I guess it all worked out.


E Hines said...

Looks to me like you need to start raising mice or rats (they're bigger and will stick to his ribs better), so as to have a ready supply of warm, squirmy foods.

Grim: rat wrangler to Ratbane.

Eric Hines

Grim said...

Once he gets big enough, I already have a functioning mouse and rat ranch for him. He can wrangle his own.

Tom said...

Well, at least you've psychologically prepared him for aggressive mice, just in case.

There's little more pitiful than a dragon basement defeated by an uppity mouse who doesn't know its place in the food chain, you know.

MikeD said...

All the guides I've seen to dead feeding says to wiggle the mouse nearish to the snake via its tail. The real trick, that none of the guides I've seen mention, is avoiding getting bit if the snake's aim is off. Sure, he might be a venomless rat snake. But I guarantee those teeth will still hurt.

Texan99 said...

I'd tie a long string to the mouse and wiggle that. But I'm surprised to hear that you can get a snake to go for a dead mouse by any means, microwaved or otherwise. Good news.

Do you think your mouse farm doesn't have enough young, helpless members to provide your neophyte snake with a good living? What's to make him think life would be any easier out in the wide world? Also, imagine his shock when you turn him loose down there and cut off his allowance. His meals won't be coming up and bopping him on the nose any more. How well I remember that fateful day in my own upbringing.

Grim said...

I don't want him to live in the wide world. I want him to live in the basement.

Texan99 said...

Sure, I got that. But aren't you feeing him by hand because you think it's premature to let him loose in the basement? I was asking what would make a young snake forsake the basement for the wide world, and how the current feeding regime would improve your chances in that respect. Is the idea that the basement would be ample hunting grounds for a mature snake, but a young one would prefer some other habitat? Will age improve his wandering eye?

Grim said...

Actually, the real danger is that if he does decide to leave the basement, which it will be easier for a smaller snake to do than a larger one, he'll be eaten (as a smaller snake) by the bigger snakes around. So I want him big enough that it would be difficult to escape, while also being big enough to eat the rats and not just the mice.

If he does leave, he'll encounter other snakes in the forest. He might or might not survive that, but as a full-grown snake he'd most likely be allotted a territory rather than outright devoured. As adding one more snake to the hunting round will reduce the exterior rat/mouse population, this at least cuts down on the number of potential intruders.

Grim said...

Also, and it's important to emphasize this, my wife really likes snakes. It's pleasing to her to have one to play with for a while.

DL Sly said...


I'm sorry, I just can't get past the image of Grim, "mouse on a stick" in hand, smacking a snake in the snout. Please tell me that you at least gave the snake the obligatory challenge, "Have at you!" before confronting him with your Mickey-Kabob
*snort snort*

Bob said...

I used to have a python. I had an arrangement with the owner of a rabbitry who would save her palsied bucks for me.

That snake counld kill a rabbit faster than I could. I grew him to 14 feet and 120 pounds. I broke my back one winter, and gave him to some kid in Kenosha.

douglas said...

" I was asking what would make a young snake forsake the basement for the wide world"

Well, when the weather cools, he might want to look for a warm stone in the sun... Might be a good idea to put a light bulb on near a surface that will hold heat to keep him happy in the nether reaches of the house.