Rodents Used for Pet Food (Feeder Rodents)

Safe food handling applies to both you and your pet.

Frozen or live rodents used for pet food, also called feeder rodents, can carry germs that can make people sick. This can happen even if the rodent looks clean and healthy. Freezing does not kill these germs. Follow these tips to safely handle feeder rodents.

a mouse and a snake
  • Avoid handling frozen or live rodents if you are at greater risk for serious illness. Children 5 years old or younger, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems are at greater risk.
  • Always wash your hands right after handling frozen or live rodents or after touching anything that was in contact with these animals.
  • Never eat, drink, or smoke while handling live or frozen rodents or caring for your pets.
  • Clean and disinfect all surfaces and supplies that come into contact with rodents. Rodents can contaminate surfaces where they are thawed or anything they touch. You can get sick by touching contaminated surfaces; you don’t have to touch the rodents to get sick from their germs.
  • Keep rodents and their supplies out of the kitchen or other areas where food is prepared, served, or consumed. Never use the kitchen sink or food preparation areas to thaw frozen rodents or to clean live rodent habitats. Do not thaw frozen rodents in the microwave.
  • Clean rodent supplies outside your home when possible. If you clean rodent supplies indoors, use a laundry sink or bathtub, and be sure to thoroughly clean and disinfect the area immediately afterward.
  • Select frozen rodents when possible to reduce the risk of injury to your or your pet. Never feed your pets wild rodents.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s health and diet. Your veterinarian can play a key role in helping you and your pets stay healthy.
  • Tell your healthcare provider that you have been around rodents, whether at home or away from home, especially if you are sick or have been bitten or scratched. Some rodent germs can cause serious and life-threatening illness in people.

Follow these safe handling tips to help keep your pet’s mealtime safer and healthier.