Among most PT people, I think you're preaching to the choir, but when trying to educate people about not feeding live rodents, I tend to steer clear from the humane argument. Most reptile owners simply do not recognize mice and rats as more than food for their pet. The best argument one can make, is that it is safer for their snake - I've seen far too many snakes completely ripped apart by their food. No matter how someone wants to skew their argument, throwing two animals into an aquarium to fight to the death is not "natural". No more than cock fighting or dog fighting is natural.
While freezing is quite effective at killing parasites, such as mites, round worm, pin worm, etal. It does not generally kill off bacteria or viruses, but that is not a real concern, because most bacteria and viruses that would be detrimental to a rodent are not going to affect a snake. Especially once they pass through the digestive tract.
I don't want to bog down in the wild caught debate, beyond saying that if it weren't for wild caught animals, most animals we have in captivity today would not be available as pets at all. Dogs may have just started hanging around our campfires, scavenging for scraps when we were cave men, but I seriously doubt chinchillas, gerbils or parrots were.
Do I believe people should be out pillaging the local wildlife? Certainly not, but there has to be some level where certain species can be made available to those people who want to captive breed them, while not being detrimental to whole wild populations.
One thing I would like to mention about wild caught animals not feeding on thawed rodents, is that it is not
because the rodent is already dead. I've seen many snakes eating road kill, or dead fish on the shore of a stream, heck, I've even come across a big rattlesnake trying to pry a long dead, completely dried up, and very flat frog off a highway once. They refuse it because they simply don't recognize a lab-bred white mouse as a food source. They have spent X number of years being opportunistic predators, eating what is available in their natural habitat. Not to mention, many snakes don't eat just rodents. They will eat frogs, lizards, birds, many species will even eat other snakes. They simply aren't seeing this new thing that they've never ever seen before, as food. If you were living in an isolated tribe in the Amazon jungle, and I suddenly handed you a Snickers bar, would you immediately think it was food? Anyway, in my experience, which I'd like to say is not insignificant, very few
snakes will refuse to switch to thawed food sources. Sometimes it can take a serious level of persistence and patience, but that is all part of the ongoing education involved in being a non-traditional pet keeper.
On a slightly different note, I want to fly off the handle every time I hear someone say something to the effect of "ball pythons are always fussy eaters". They are not, that is a complete and utter myth. Yes, they can stress easily, which has a tendency to put them off feed... but I have dealt with literally dozens of ball pythons, from all manner of situations - including wild caught, farm bred, and captive bred, some with injuries, some stressed from poor care. I have never
come across one that wouldn't switch to thawed rodents eventually, most quite easily. Again, it comes down to patience and persistence, and educating yourself in how your animal behaves. The key to getting a ball python to feed is reducing it's stress level as much as possible, which unfortunately many new owners tend to exacerbate in the excitement of having a new pet... but anyway, I diverge from the main topic.
I used to breed my own feeder rodents, but I no longer do, because I would prefer to dedicate that maintenance time to other animals - of which I keep snakes of all shapes and sizes, but at the same time I also keep and have kept many species of rodents, from your usual rats, mice, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, to some more exotic stuff like flying squirrels, dormice, lemmings, and agoutis. I also keep and have kept other animals which sometimes eat rodents, including genets, cusimanse, large frogs and toads, and tarantulas. I buy frozen in bulk, and only feed something live as a last resort. It is safer for my animals, and in the long run, cheaper and easier for me as the keeper until someone invents Purina Snake Chow.