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Mice pups

Mice pups for bearded dragons

Feeding mice pups to bearded dragons certainly causes some conflict with the odd pet owner. Mice pups have been used to feed bearded dragons both fresh and frozen. Some may even feed live, which is illegal in some countries (although in some instances that comes down to an interpretation of the law) but even if it isn’t controlled by law, the ethics of doing so are certainly questionable (lucky it’s not humans on the menu). Feeding mice pups to a bearded dragon is one of the most difficult, fortunately not too common, practices to understand.

When vertebrates are fed it is usually mice pups (pinkies). There is no evidence to suggest that meat is good for bearded dragons. Their main protein source is renown to be insects and it has been evident in captivity that given the proper care, that a diet of insects and vegetation is adequate enough to sustain life into old age. In addition, gout is far too prevalent in captive bearded dragons. When treating humans for gout, red meat is one of the first things taken out of the diet.

In respect of the claims that mice are a natural part of the bearded dragons diet, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. Even if there was evidence, mice are an introduced species to Australia, it can only be in recent centuries that such an event could have occurred.

Mice pups do not provide a great source of calcium since their skeletal structure has not calcified and if it has, they are not pinkies and it is certainly dangerous to feed anything with a formed skeletal structure to a bearded dragon. When reviewing data on the nutritional value of mice pups ensure it has come from a scientific source (not a supplier) and be clear on whether the values were taken with or without a belly full of its mother’s milk. Their protein value is not better than insects.

Mice pups related to zoonotic diseases

Mice pups supplied to the pet industry have been associated with at least two zoonotic disease being salmonella and Multistate Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV). LCMV can spread not just to humans but also to other animals.

Salmonella outbreaks in humans have been associated with frozen rodents in the US3 and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control is directly associating consistent outbreaks of salmonella since 2012 with feeder mice6.

An outbreak of LCMV in the US in 2012 was directly associated with mice. Infection of LCMV was put down to the poor conditions the animals had to endure. Over 301,000 mice from the infected facility were shipped to 543 pet stores, 11 breeders and 7 zoos/aquariums. Once the infection was detected by authorities, action was taken to eradicate the disease including putting down thousands of mice, not just those at the facility but all the additional mice that were infected as they intermingled with other stock in pet stores and other locations. Unfortunately mice were not the only victims in the outbreak, other animals were also euthanized.2

This video comes from PeTAs story on Pet Store Mice Prove Deadly by Michelle Kretzer 23-8-2012 where it was found that mice (along with hamsters and other unfortunate animals) were infected with Multistate Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus.

WARNING: This video is likely to be distressing to any sensitive animal lovers and is probably not for you.
It raises concerns on the treatment and conditions of animals in the pet trade.



At the end of the day, there is just no need to feed mice pups to a bearded dragon so why take the risk? Insects will provide for much more natural feeding behaviour and if feed correctly, will enhance wellbeing through activity.


Further Information

  1. Multistate Outbreak of Human Salmonella I 4, [5],12:i:-Infections Associated with Frozen Rodents (Final Update)
  2. Edison L, Knust B, Petersen B, et al. Trace-Forward Investigation of Mice in Response to Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus Outbreak. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2014;20(2):291-295. doi:10.3201/eid2010.130861.
  3. Multistate Outbreak of Human Salmonella I 4, [5],12:i:-Infections Associated with Frozen Rodents (Final Update)
  4. Trace-Forward Investigation of Mice in Response to Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus Outbreak
    Multistate Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus (LCMV) Outbreak July 2012: Recommendations on Trace-back and Safe Disposal of Potentially LCMV-infected Mice
  5. Update: Interim Guidance for Minimizing Risk for Human Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus Infection Associated with Pet Rodents
    “In May 2005, CDC received reports of illness in four solid-organ transplant recipients who were later determined to have been infected with lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) from a common organ donor (1). Three of the four organ recipients died, 23–27 days after transplantation…”
  6. Multi-country outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis PT8 infection, MLVA type 2-10-8-5-2,associated with handling of feeder mice. European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. 2016

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