Three or four times a year, for decades, Earthplace sent a truck to Charles River Laboratory in Kingston, New York.
They’d load it with frozen rats, mice, gerbils and guinea pigs. Back in Westport, volunteers would bag thousands of them, then pack them in 3 large freezers.
For the next few months, the dead animals were meals for Earthplace’s raptors and reptiles.
The food was free — excess from the research lab.
The last pickup was January 10. That’s when Charles River stopped donating their excess rodents.
Which means Earthplace must now find a new source of animals to feed its animals. At 75 cents a mouse and $2 per rat, that’s tens of thousands of dollars a year.
The Westport natural history museum, nature center and wildlife sanctuary already pays for chicks and quail from another supplier. (Hey, snakes like a varied diet too). And Stew Leonard’s donates salmon (!) for eagles, crows and vultures.
But, says Becky Newman — Earthplace’s director of nature programs — sourcing new rodents is tough.
So is paying for them.
If you know of a good source for rats, mice, gerbils and/or guinea pigs (be serious, please!), or can help fund them, please contact Becky (203-557-4563; email@example.com).
If you’re a grocery store that can donate outdated or unsalable (freezer burn, etc.) meat, Becky would love to hear from you too.
NOTE: Earthplace cannot accept rodents trapped in your house (they may contain poisons).
And — because I know my “06880” readers — no roadkill either. Sorry!
(Hat tip: Matthew Mandell)