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Yes your Pet Reptile will eat Frozen / Thawed prey

Converting Snakes to Frozen/Thawed Rodents: A Step Towards Ethical Snake Ownership in South Africa


Keeping snakes and other reptiles as pets is a rewarding experience, but it comes with the responsibility of ensuring their well-being and adhering to ethical practices. In South Africa, as in many parts of the world, there is a growing awareness of the need to promote animal welfare. This includes finding ways to convert snakes that feed on live rodents to accept frozen/thawed prey. Not only does this practice align with ethical principles, but it also helps comply with the Animal Protection Act in South Africa, which prohibits unnecessary cruelty to all animals.

The Animal Protection Act in South Africa

The Animal Protection Act Act 71 of 1962 (APA) of South Africa is a legal framework aimed at preventing cruelty to animals. It outlines the responsibilities of animal owners to provide proper care and protect animals from harm, including those kept as pets. Importantly, the APA enforces the humane treatment of animals, making it a vital guideline for snake owners seeking to transition their pets to a more ethical and less cruel feeding method.

Why Choose Frozen/Thawed Rodents?

Feeding live rodents to snakes is not only ethically concerning but also poses risks to the snake itself. Live prey can harm or stress the snake, and it's more challenging to control the size of live prey animals, which can lead to overfeeding or potential injury to the snake. Transitioning to frozen/thawed rodents eliminates these issues while adhering to the APA.

Steps to Convert Snakes to Frozen/Thawed Rodents

1. Gradual Transition:

Begin by offering a combination of live and frozen/thawed prey. Some snakes may not readily accept the change, and a gradual transition helps reduce the shock to their feeding routine.

2. Scent Transfer:

Rub the scent of the live prey on the frozen/thawed rodent. Snakes are guided by scent, and this can make the transition smoother. Gradually decrease the amount of scent transferred over time.

3. Warmth and Movement:

Use a heating pad to gently warm the frozen/thawed prey and mimic the slight movement of live rodents. Snakes are more likely to strike at something that resembles live prey in temperature and slight movement. This can easily be done by feeding with long feeding tweezers.

4. Patience and Persistence:

Converting a snake's feeding habits takes time and patience. Be prepared for the snake to refuse initially. Continue offering frozen/thawed prey, and avoid offering live prey until the snake accepts the new feeding method.

5. Monitoring:

Watch for signs of hunger in your snake. If a snake is hungry and actively looking for food the prospects of them accepting frozen / thawed prey items is significantly higher. However, do not revert to live feeding as a quick fix, as this defeats the purpose of the transition.

Benefits of Converting to Frozen/Thawed Prey

1. Ethical Compliance: By transitioning to frozen/thawed rodents, snake owners are aligning their practices with the principles of the Animal Protection Act. This helps ensure humane treatment of their pets and prevents cruelty to animals.

2. Safety for Snakes: Feeding live rodents can pose significant risks to snakes, such as injuries from bites or scratches. Frozen/thawed prey reduces these risks and minimises stress on the snake.

3. Convenience: Frozen/thawed rodents are more readily available and easier to store than live prey, making feeding snakes a more practical and manageable process.

4. Healthier Snakes: Consistent feeding of high-quality, disease-free frozen/thawed rodents can lead to healthier snakes with reduced risk of parasitic infections.


Converting snakes to accept frozen/thawed rodents is a crucial step towards promoting ethical snake ownership in South Africa. By adhering to the principles of the Animal Protection Act and prioritising the well-being and safety of these magnificent creatures, snake owners can set an example for responsible pet ownership. With patience, persistence, and a commitment to ethical feeding practices, snake enthusiasts can create a more humane and sustainable environment for their beloved pets.

JP Wittstock (13 November 2023)

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