BBP rears rabbits, mice and meal worms to feed reptiles

The Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP) has started rearing rabbits, mice and meal worms to provide fresh and good quality food to reptiles and a primate on its premises.

As the BBP had difficulty finding quality food as feed for the zoo inmates, the authorities have just started the rearing inside the park on a small scale.
According to the BBP’s wildlife vet, pythons are fed with rabbits every 10 days.

“There are six pythons and these reptiles normally like to feed on live rabbits. The earlier supply of live rabbit that we were receiving usually had mange, a skin infection. We had to treat the rabbit for its infection and cure it and only then it could be used as a feed. But now, as the BBP has started to rear them inside the park, there are chances of these reptiles being fed with quality food,” the wildlife vet added.

Although the BBP has started to use rabbits as the feed, mice and meal worms are yet to be used for other zoo inmates. Mice are fed to king cobra and rat snakes, which are nearly 20 in each species housed in the BBP. The wildlife vet further said that the cobras normally fed on rat snakes, but if they refused, mice were force-fed to the king cobras. Here again, the animal keepers must ensure that the mice are not infected and do not carry Leptospirosis bacteria.

The meal worms are fed to the only marmoset, a small primate at the BBP. Rearing these animal feeds needs extra precaution, not only for these animals but also for the animal-keeper. BBP authorities say they ensure all animal-keepers wear protective gear, including masks and gloves, so they do not contact any infections while rearing them.

Speaking about the new venture at the zoo, the BBP’s executive director Range Gowda said that they were in the process of stabilising the rearing activities as it was still in base built-up phase. “We have faced many problems finding these feeds for the reptiles, the suppliers sometimes brought bad quality feeds and at times delayed the supply.

We had to pay huge money for low-quality feed as well.  Rearing these feeds will not only ensure the reptiles get good quality food but will also be cost-effective for the BBP. We are still in the process of stabilising the demand and supply chain,” Gowda added.

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