Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Reptiles equal Healthy Gardens?

Sustainability can fit into just about any model involving living things. Including reptiles, I've come to find.
Onyx the Argentine tegu - one of the features from the NHECM's World of Reptiles.

I used to pa ruse the pet stores for feeder mice and rats, but as I accumulated more snakes I was spending up to $40 on feeders per trip. I decided that was too much. How hard can mice be to raise, really?

As it turns out, not difficult at all. Rodents are pretty much at the bottom of the food chain in nature. Providing food for everything from birds of prey to coyotes. To compensate for this they reproduce at an astonishing rate. So they're pretty good at making babies. I had mice galore, and very happy snakes.

This is Pearl, our albino California King. By the way, old snake mulch also gets tossed on the compost pile.

As my snakes got bigger, I started to need rats. The biggest feeder rats cost $10 each. No thanks. So I added rats to our rodent farm. When I have the rest of my carnivorous critters from the NHECM, they also partake of the rodent feast.

To keep costs to a minimum I get big bales of pine shavings from farm supply stores (usually 4-5 dollars) and buy 30lb bags of rabbit pellets, black oil sunflower seed, scratch grains and dogfood that I mix myself and lasts forever.

My costs are negligible. I have a healthy, home grown food source for my reptiles, and an abundance of used bedding for the compost pile.

Weekly cage cleanings (a must if rodents are kept in the house) produce a LOT of bedding. Add to this fresh kitchen scraps and lawn clippings, and it produces one heck of a compost pile! I spread this on all my plants, and it works like a charm.

One of my potted blueberries in bloom

To add to this I will have chicken bedding and eventually rabbit manure. So as our menagerie grows, so can our gardens.

The chicks enjoying their new roost

Seems pretty sustainable to me!

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