I had been an animal lover for most of my life, and when my daughter brought home the cutest corn snake as a new pet from her dad’s home, I was thrilled.
We have had dogs and cats for years, and I am not the squeamish type, but the idea of having frozen rats and mice in my freezer was somewhat of a game-changer.
Then it came to defrosting Goldilocks’ meal, and I was stumped.
Just how do you thaw or defrost a frozen mouse for a snake? Would I have to put it in my Tefal boiler and simmer till the dot turned red?
I was slightly queasy at this point. Nothing, not even the fresh food diet my aged Labrador was on could prepare me for what I assumed was involved in feeding a snake.
Luckily, it wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined. Here’s how!
How to Thaw Frozen Mice for Snakes
Frozen mice should be thawed in the fridge or in cold water before being warmed in lukewarm water and fed to snakes. Never keep frozen mice outside the fridge or freezer, and do not microwave frozen mice before feeding. Only keep a thawed mouse overnight in the fridge before feeding.
Steps for Thawing Frozen Mice and Rats for Snakes
My first thawing session was quite an experience, but fortunately, I didn’t have to do it every day as most snakes have slow metabolisms and will happily remain full on a mouse or a juicy rat for a week or more.
Younger snakes, like our precious Goldilocks, had to be fed every five days, but as she grew bigger, we would be able to feed her once a week too.
With a methodical approach, thawing frozen mice isn’t creepy at all, and it will ensure your snake gets the best meals possible without making a mess of your kitchen.
Step One: Assemble Your Kit
To thaw mice and rats correctly, you will want to ensure they never touch the inside of your fridge or freezer. You also want to have a special container or two that you use exclusively for the purpose of thawing your snake’s dinner.
Never use your family’s plastic ware or anything you will be using for food again.
For the sake of hygiene, you may also want to wear a set of disposable gloves when you handle mice or rats. This helps to protect you and your snake.
Next, having some Ziploc bags can be a real blessing.
Step Two: Split the Mice and Rats
When you purchase frozen mice or rats, they usually come in packets with several rats or mice inside.
This can be a winner if you have several snakes to feed, but for our tiny Goldilocks, it was better to split these into individually frozen mice that were each placed in their own Ziploc bag.
The idea here is to make it really easy for yourself. With individually packed mice, I could simply take one out of the freezer without having to first open the whole bag of frozen mice.
Step Three: Create a Routine for Thawing
Decide how you will be thawing the mice. A mouse takes about 2 hours to thaw, with a rat taking up to 4 hours.
This means I could try to take a frozen meal out two hours before feeding time, or I could also thaw a frozen rodent the night before. Luckily, frozen rodents that thaw in the fridge could be kept in the fridge for about 24 hours.
A routine is helpful as it ensures that there is sufficient time to thaw the meal without having to resort to microwaving the rodent before feeding, which is a bad idea.
On my calendar, I mark every fourth day with a little snake, which reminds me to take another frozen mouse out of the freezer to feed Goldilocks the next day.
Step Four: Warming Thawed Rodents
Naturally, snakes won’t be too keen on cold meals. They are used to rats and mice that are warm and wiggling.
If they believe the rat is dead, they may still eat its warm body, but a cold chunk of fur won’t do. So you will have to warm the thawed rat or mouse.
We do this in lukewarm water. Simply place the Ziploc bag with the thawed mouse into a bucket with lukewarm water.
Never use boiling water as this will activate the bacteria in the dead mouse’s guts, which can lead to diseases spreading and poisoning your snake. Always make sure the water temperature is below 40 ℉.
It takes around 10-20 minutes to have a nicely warmed-through thawed mouse.
At this point, you should take the bag from the bucket, carefully take the mouse from the packet with feeding forceps, dangle it for your snake, and enjoy watching them grab their food.
Step Five: Emergency Thawing
I’m not always that organized, and sometimes, I forget to take a frozen mouse from the freezer the day before. This means I am stuck with a hungry snake and a solidly frozen mouse.
There is a way around this, luckily.
While you could rush to the local pet supplies store to buy a warm and wiggling pinkie, you can also opt for water thawing. To do this, place the Ziploc bag in a bucket with cold water.
A frozen mouse should thaw in an hour, with one water change at half-time. A rat would take about 2 hours.
After this, simply warm the thawed mouse in warm water.
Frequently Asked Questions about How to Thaw Frozen Mice for Snakes
How long can I leave a frozen mouse thawed?
A thawed-out mouse or rat that has been in the fridge throughout can be kept there for 24 hours, which is why you can thaw a rodent in your fridge overnight and feed them the next day.
What happens to the snake if you feed it frozen mice?
Snakes are designed to eat warm prey. Feeding them frozen rodents will lead to death for your snake.
The Last Freeze
Being a new snake mommy, I had a lot to learn. Luckily, I have now perfected the routine for feeding Goldilocks.
My daughter is good at reminding me that we need to take a mouse out of the freezer to thaw before feeding it the next day.