While it may seem cruel, there is an entire industry based around the breeding and selling of feeder mice. Feeder mice are mice that are bred specifically for the consumption of captive carnivores such as snakes and lizards. Feeder mice are generally sold in several stages of life--newborn, juvenile and young adult--based on the needs of the predators being fed. The term feeder mouse refers to a specific breed of mouse that was first discovered in Asia.
Locate a suitable habitat within your home to keep the mice. Feeder mice enjoy a warm, but not overly hot environment with mild humidity. They need a decent-sized, clean environment, but because feeder mice are small, the cages do not have to be overly large. A ten-gallon aquarium will do fine for a small colony of five adult mice or up to 10 juveniles. Rodents tend to have a distinctive odor. This is due to their inability to control bladder and bowel movements, so you should locate the breeding facilities in an area of the house not normally used by residents. This also keeps the disturbance down for the mice, who prefer a quiet environment.
Choose your breeding stock. You can obtain feeder mice from almost any pet supply store. They come in some basic colors with the most common being black and white. You are looking for healthy individuals to begin with. The mice should exhibit a smooth coat, bright eyes and a high level of activity. If a mouse is acting erratically or scratching a lot, you should not choose a mouse from that colony. Mice breed quickly, with females and males being able to breed within 50 to 60 days of birth. They can produce six to eight pups per litter. It is not necessary to purchase a large number of mice in order to get started.
Maintain healthy facilities. Feeder mice will eat any small animal food and thrive. The cages will need to be cleaned weekly, or even twice a week based on the number of animals that live in each enclosure. Pine bedding works well. Do not use harsh cleaning agents as he mice may accidentally ingest the poison or inhale it, causing illness and death. Warm soapy water should be aquedate, making sure that each enclosure is well rinsed and dried after each cleaning. If there are mice in your colony exhibiting strange behavior they should be removed immediately and quarantined. Sick or elderly mice will need to be euthanized humanely by a veterinarian.
Attract clients. The main clientele of feeder mice suppliers are pet stores, exotic veterinary practices, and any business, such as breeders, that houses reptiles or other carnivorous captive animals. You may also want to contract business with individuals. Make person-to-person visits to any of these facilities in your area and offer your services. You can also market in the newspaper classified and by posting signs in areas reptile owners frequent.
The success of your business will depend soley on the health of your stock and the ability of your business to be able to supply what your customers need.
It is never a good idea to allow your stock to breed indiscriminantly. You should select certain males and females for breeding based on the characteristics your customers are looking for. For instance, some customers may prefer to purchase only genetically similar white mice for laboratory use while others may be looking for tamer ones that make better children's pets. While there is no gurantee that a litter will exhibit specific characteristics, the chances of you producing what your customer is looking for is enhanced by choosing specific mates.