Guidelines for

Giving Sunflower Seed to Rodents

In certain situations, the use of sunflower seeds may be helpful as an enrichment for rodents. Anecdotal evidence has indicated that the prudent use of sunflower seeds in difficult breeding mice can improve litter sizes and survivability.

Seeds that are not sanitized may present disease or contamination into the animal facility. Do not use pet store seeds or human food seeds. While perfectly appropriate for the intended use, there may be an effect upon research outcomes that could be significant.

Seeds should not be autoclaved prior to giving to the mice. Autoclaving heats off the oils that are most valuable for the animals.

The best option is to use irradiated seeds. These are sanitary, provide the desirable oils, and are easy to obtain.

GUIDELINES: An dietary alteration should not become a significant part of the diet of any animal. For mice, the following guideline might be considered a reasonable compromise between standard diet and enriched diet:

  • Approximately 1-2 seeds per mouse per day.
  • These are full seeds with the germ and seed coat intact.
  • Seeds should be provided daily, or at least every other day. DO NOT sum the numbers of seeds for all mice in the cage for a week and give the total allotment at one time.
  • Irradiated Seeds may be ordered BARNES SUPPLY COMPANY (local representative) at phone: 919-286-7331.
  • The catalog number is 5LP8 Picolab Natural sunflower seeds.
  • They charge $20 for 10kg + shipping.


  • Additional information is available at the website: http://www.labdiet.com/pdf/sunflower.pdf