Complete Food: Not for the squeamish
Are Mice the Perfect Meal to Feed Our Pets?
My proposal takes the worry out of feeding your pet a nutritiously complete BARF diet, and is a good example of how being practical makes life so much simpler.
I was remembering Farley Mowat’s book, Never Cry Wolf, which was made into an equally entertaining movie for those who don’t read. Mowat’s thesis was that Wolves, our dog’s far-off grandpappy’s, don’t just take down caribou or other large animals for supper but get much of their nutrition from rodents and hares.
Now think about it. When we try to replicate the natural diet of the wolf or tiger for our furry four-legged friends, BARF style, we know that variety is to our pet’s advantage, health wise. All this expects determined planning but all my determined planning is taken up with planing my own way through this life. Wouldn’t it be more practical to go fast food by feeding whole little rodent critters to our larger pet critters safe in the assumption that they are getting all the nutritional evidence they need for healthy living. Sure, we would still toss them some sardines and eggs, the odd bone or apple or chunk of broccoli, but for the most part, a mouse form noes to tail tip including fur and eyeballs should provide all the nutrients necessary for their healthy survival; according to Mowat. I may even write him if he is still alive by the time I would find time to get round to it.
I have been doing my research and it seems that from the one source (sited below for the goooggly-handicapped) I found (and got bored) your average rodent—mouse, rabbit, hamster, (there are always adds for free hamsters in the local papers) and rat–houses about 5 calories per gram of dead weight. Cows do about the same but are more difficult to get through the door. And mice are kind of creepy and easier to waylay. Cows have those big brown soft eyes and a skull not so easily cracked.
For the curious, Farley took to eating his mice and lemmings to see if health could be sustained on such a diet, though I believe he included some strong beverage when he undertook this experiment. He also cooked his little meals and, I believe, de-furred them. He did consume the tails, which I believe are little storehouses of vitamins and minerals.
Now think of a mouse and its size. They are easily contained in wire hatches in the garage and all the wife has to do is toss them some grain and keep their water bottles filled. Their droppings fall through the wire floor and make great fertilizer for the petunias. I believe rodents need a bit of sunlight so a window view would keep them entertained as they fatten. I don’t know if they would take to a running wheel but it’s worth a try. They can all huddle together when the temperature drops, a savings to your heating costs.
Rabbits are easy to raise, I did this as a boy and they are quite cuddly but short in personality. Hamsters can be got for free as previously noted. Just don’t refer to them as feeders. Some people can be quite sensitive, even over hamsters. Rats have a bad name in Alberta so they don’t enter the picture.
Mice take about 3.5 months to mature to full size, so, for a steady supply you’d need about 12 cages labelled 1 to 12 or A to L if you have trouble with numbers. You would have a turn over rate of one cage every 10 days. The size of the cages would depend upon the size of your pet to contain the number of mice you would need for 10 days. An adult mouse weighs between 20 and 25 grams (100 to 125 calories) so you’d need to calculate how many calories pooch or kitty needs to determine the daily number of mice.
My corgi, for example should weigh about 12 kg and so should have 70 +(12 x 30) = 430 calories a day or about 4 mice. In leaner times, should there be a mouse scarcity, store bought meat, chicken, fish and hard boiled eggs and shells can be used to supplement the shortage.
Rabbits are another story. They are bigger rodents and would be better adapted to diet of a larger dog. And rabbits taste good so any extra could grace your Sunday supper table.
If you have a closed room with no escape or hiding crevices, a dog or cat can quickly learn to hunt when it is hungry and the chase may satisfy some of its unfulfilled atavistic urges.
All round, its a win-win situation for both your wallet and the dietary health of your pet.
Caloric value of various rodents
Calculating the daily caloric needs of a dog