When feeding insects to lizards, it's a common practice to gut-load them in order to deliver nutrients to the lizard. The diet of the insects can be altered to give them the highest possible nutritional value for the lizard.

Is it possible to do the same thing with a mouse? If I want to make sure a snake gets a good dose of calcium with it's food, could I feed the mouse calcium supplements a day or two before feeding it to the snake? Or will it not make any difference?

Is it possible to feed a mouse a special diet to give it the highest possible nutritional value for a snake?

I'm not assuming that the mice aren't sufficient by themselves, but a juvenile snake would benefits from vitamin and calcium supplements while it grows. Especially since juvenile mice have almost half of the calcium content that adult mice do (See page 12). Frozen mice purchased at the store are commonly injected with vitamins and supplements, so if I'm managing my snakes diet I could be missing out on those added supplements.

I would prefer not to have to try and feed the snake the supplements directly, coax it into eating a dusted mouse, or manage the dosages for supplement injections into the mouse myself. So I was wondering whether or not those supplements could be passed through the mouse's diet, similar to how it's done with insects.


2 Answers 2


Mice are one of the most nutritious food that can be fed to a snake. Gut loading mice is definitely a thing, though not as simple as gut loading insects. Insects can be gut loaded within 24 hours, while, to achieve a discernible increase in the nutritional content of a mouse, relatively long term care is needed, 2 days before feeding will probably not be enough. This isn't too much of a problem though, since snakes don't require as frequent feedings as most other animals, and so a longer duration of care is somewhat manageable.

Being a very nutritious food, supplementation isn't really required for a mouse. A juvenile snake can definitely benefit from the added nutrients,but can also do normally. The question here is whether the supplementation is worth it, in this forum, the user Reflex refers to a snakebytestv episode where rodents with vitamins where given to some snakes, while others were just given rodents.

There was a snakebytestv episode once that showed the results of feeding all different things to same-sized corn snake babies, and if I remember correctly, the results were that the ones given vitamins on their rodents grew slightly bigger, but not enough to make a difference in the snake’s health. It was pretty interesting, if I can find the episode it was I’ll post it here.

After some research, I found the video to most probably be these two: preliminary, and the followup (result).

It seems that gut loading mice is a bit of a chore, and at least in this example, it gave discernible but not tremendous results. There is also the concern that the mouse can fight back and damage the snake.

We highly recommend that you only feed pre-killed mice to your herp. Live mice can fight back while being eaten, gnaw on your snake if left in the cage with them, or be too hard for some younger herps to catch. Attacks by live prey can disfigure herps, and they have been known to scare a herp off of his natural diet of prey animals. If the mouse fights back while your herp is eating it, it can bite through the herp's mouth area, puncture his eyes, and cut through his tongue. Feeding pre-killed mice can alleviate all of these concerns. ( http://www.drsfostersmith.com/pic/article.cfm?aid=2375#answer_3 )

And of course there is also the added advantage of the vitamin supplementation to some frozen mice. I personally have no experience with snakes, all info here is based on the information I've accumulated through watching and reading. If it was up to me I would stick to the frozen ones and make a live mouse an occasional feeding to mentally stimulate the snake and encourage a more natural behavior. Before feeding the mouse live gut loading it is definitely an advantage if you consider it worth the relative effort.


I own a ball python and personally i have a pre set up cage for all of the mice i feed my snake. I “gut- load” the mice a couple days before feeding them to my snake with nutritious foods that are actually good for the mice. Then on feeding day, i sadly pre-kill the mouse for the snake’s safety (from biting mice) 5 minutes before giving it to my ball python. A lot of people do not do this so i’d say its not necessary but if you want to be sure your snake is eating mice that have some type of nutritious benefit and not just a empty dead mouse i say try this method. This also will help get your snake to get on frozen thawed mice if your trying to go that route & your ball python wont eat it.

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