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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As I related briefly elsewhere, my housemate has snakes whom he feeds live rats. I understand that snakes need to eat too and that they are going to either need to feed on rodents, birds, or some other small creature. This is inevitable and I can accept that. However, what I can't accept is the mistreatment of intelligent beings such as rats (but really any being at all) in the process of feeding them alive to another animal! That being said, frozen rats aren't much of a better option because the practical (sadistic) snake shops throw the rats and mice alive into the freezers. It reminds me of Auschwitz. So, if the animal is going to be alive (can't they be drugged first?) at the very least have the decency not to hurt it beforehand. (But really, I think rats are a no-go anyway because of their intelligence and character so it's a moot point). And yet hurt them is exactly what he does! He literally throws the rats into the snake's feeding box. I have seen him, with everyone watching excitedly, DUMP tiny baby rats into the box from a height of over at least one or two feet. That's like a human being dropped from a 2 or 2 story building! I know it breaks their bones and they must be hurting terribly. What's worse, you can hear the rats (especially the babies) squealing in agony and fear when these vicious snakes attack them. It's particularly disgusting that one of the snakes is a bad hunter (referring to its species I mean) and kills its prey by injecting flesh-dissolving venom into its face. I mean what the @@$%^%? How can anyone subject an innocent being to something like that? I rescued one of the babies one time that was not eaten, I suppose because the snake was full, but it was injured and at any rate I was drunk and didn't take proper care of it during the night. So by the morning, despite my efforts to keep it warm, it was dead. That's a death that will rest on my conscience forever.

I feel like this is damaging my soul because while this abuse is going on I am sitting there and doing nothing. But, I don't know what to do about it because the guy doesn't listen to reason and none of the other fools who hang out with us seem to get it either. I don't know what's wrong with the conscience of our country! It's a real shame because in other respects he is a great guy and I like hanging out with him. But I just can't accept this kind of callous behavior.

What to do?

A caveat about killing animals: When I complained to my housemates and others watching the executions, the retort came back (as it always does) that I eat meat and am a hypocrite. Well, I am not vegetarian, I LOVE meat! I am well aware of the industrial barbarity of the mega-farming meat industry. It's sick beyond words. However, the problem is, I found that almost nobody else gives a rat's ass (no pun intended!). When I first discovered the truth about the industry when I was in college I made propaganda posters and plastered them to the dinning halls. I told everyone I knew about it. I stopped eating meat for something like two months unless I knew it was from a humane farm. But in the end I realized that not eating meat was making me very unhappy and that there was nothing I could do about the industry because other people simply lacked the sufficient moral compass to join me. I am not talking about vegetarians and vegans who have an issue with ANY animal-killing. I am talking about understanding that it's wrong to make animals suffer in a barbaric fashion and treat them like insensate objects. So, my issue with the rat feeding is not about killing, and I am not a hypocrite. I put my money where my mouth is but if I am stuck then I am not going to be unhappy because of the actions of others. That's the sick sad truth about the world: with many wrongs (industrial meat, industrial fishing, fossil fuels) you are pretty @@%^d and either you get what you can or you be unhappy. :mad:
 

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As a vegan, for more than 20 years, I don't understand. You can't be saying that you started eating meat again because no one else wanted to quit with you because that would be absurd. You can't be saying that you started eating meat again because the mass production of meat did not cease when you went vegetarian because that would be crazy. If abstaining from meat makes you unhappy, as you state, then maybe that's the reason.
 

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Livefeeding is absolutely terrible, both for the rats and for the snake; the only time it should be done is if you absolutely can not get your snakes to eat frozen and have exhausted all other methods, and even then... dropping them in like that is just needlessly cruel. :(

Have you tried bringing up the fact that livefeeding is bad for the snakes as well? Rats/mice can do a lot of damage to a snake by fighting back, and leave them permanently scarred or deformed from injuries.
 

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I think this animal cruelty in our food supply is a issue that wont go away by protest or propaganda because people like eating meat. However meat is already being grown in labs so I would expect it to become a non issue eventually. As for feeding live to snakes, I doubt you can do anything about that other than maybe contact your local representative. It's banned in the UK and I think its banned in Europe as well. :) I'm pretty sure I've herd a link between people who do cruel things to animals when young and killers later in life.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Mene - Firstly I never said I went "vegetarian". I only ate meat that was produced from farms that treat their animals well. In fact I am totally opposed to the idea of vegetarianism, philosophically speaking. Second, it's not absurd at all. If you look around you will see we live in a society where people and not individuals count. Having seen the lack of moral outrage and concern in others I realized I was on my own and either I would be unhappy not eating meat and being very limited (especially because I couldn't afford good meat), resenting others because they wouldn't help, or I could just eat meat and not let them mess up my life. I think you put it just right, only I would turn it around, perhaps you simply don't like meat that much. Sure makes being vegan not much of a sacrifice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Rarity - No I didn't try that angle, but I doubt he would care since so far "so good". Anyway, thanks your input. I would try to raise awareness about the feeder industry but I know that people won't give a crap about it, so it's pointless. Those shops at the very least have to be stopped. I mean, they freeze them alive! At the least they could drug the animals.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Amph - very cute rate! I cracked up when I saw that goofy profile picture.

I didn't know it was banned in Europe but it makes sense. In some areas I am sorry to say we are far behind the rest of the West. The issue with meat is not that people like it, it's that people don't care about how the animals are treated until you shove it in their face and abuse their conscience. You literally have to berate them while making them look at the images. Nobody is going to take that, they will just tell you to piss off or change the channel. That is the source of the problem - lack of moral conviction. And the underlying cause is the general lack of strong feelings. The fact is, not everybody feels equally and most people have only moderately strong emotions of ANY SORT. So what that means is that when they see something really wrong they don't feel THAT BAD - they only feel "sorta bad". Whereas people with strong moral convictions typically have very strong emotions that won't allow them to rationalize serious wrongs. The exceptions of course are those things in life which we have been taught to regard as taboo - hurting children, puppies, kittens, whales, etc. These ideas have been inculcated in us since early childhood and as a result there is a strong emotional response.

That's the sick sad truth of it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
For those who think it's hypocritical to eat meat and oppose factory farming, here is a challenge for you.

Go out in the street, or at work, wherever, and ask ten people if they are aware of factory farming methods in which animals are treated like disposable objects, thrown around by the ankles, crammed together in tiny pins, killed inefficiently so they suffer, made to live in their own excrement, etc. Then, ask them if they would be willing to stop eating meat from major farms (not humane farms) in protest to force the industry to change, if millions of other people would do the same - enough to make a difference. THEY WILL SAY NO. Why? Because they just don't care enough to even take a shot at changing the situation if it means being unhappy. Now then, after you do this, I dare you to come back here and tell me I am wrong when I say you can't make any difference because other people are the problem.
 

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Humans don't care that's a fact. The cold hard truth.
 

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Amph - very cute rate! I cracked up when I saw that goofy profile picture.
Thank you so much, his name is Freddy and to me he almost looks like a little bear in that picture haha. ;D I don't think there is a right or wrong choice when it comes to eating meat but I'm happy that someday it wont even be an issue any longer. You're right about society not wanting to put effort into change for the better which is ironic when it seems people are so ready to change for the worse. *shrugs* I hope you find peace with your situation somehow.
 

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Some snakes will only eat live prey. What do you do? I don't think there is much you can do.

As far as meat substitutes go for snakes... please no. That's cruel. That's like the person who killed all those kittens trying to make them vegan. Animals deserve a healthy diet. Snakes are designed to eat whole prey. They invariably get sick and die when given substitutes. Even ground up meat in a sausage form kills them. It's not what they're meant to eat.

I will also say live-feeding may be against the law in Europe, but visit any reptile keeping forum and people flat-out admit to doing it. Seems to be especially common in the UK.
I don't advocate it. I am just saying there are some species of snake that need it to survive. There are people for the keeping of snakes and people against it... that is all. This individual you spoke of is especially cruel because he enjoys the rats' pain. I do not think you can do anything about it, but I wonder why you are stuck living with such a person. It is very unfortunate. I don't know if it is possible or not, but I would strongly suggest finding better company and living situation. This place disgusts and stresses you, and you said it yourself, it feels like damage to the soul. That is not good for you!

PS. I saw someone else get a warning for their views on human diets. It's rather off-topic, so I'd advice against bringing it up here even though I've seen no specific rule against it. Just my opinion, it seems the topic goes hand in hand with flame wars on most all forums. Maybe a thread could be made about it somewhere else, IDK.
 

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I don't buy this "they must be fed live" argument because as I said it is illegal here and you may be right that people privately in the UK break the law but all the places where you can buy the snakes from would be shut down if they did. I don't see tanks full of starving snakes anywhere so I think its a completely bogus argument. I bet it has much more to do with the cost of buying frozen from a supplier vs the cost of breeding your own rats being much cheaper. Feeding live takes out the hassle and emotional connection of directly killing the animal. If anyone should be feeding live food to a snake it should be the importers of wild species who intend to breed captive bread animals who eat frozen. It is not necessary for the general hobbyist and the only reason it happens is because some rodents aren't classed as animals in law so that they can be used for animal testing that would be deemed cruel in other species.
 

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Amph, it is a perfectly valid argument and it is the truth. I'm not saying there aren't people who feed live without reason, in fact, I bet most live feeders do it just because.
But there is absolutely some snakes out there that will refuse to eat F/T and starve themselves to death.
 

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I don't live in the UK, but I've always heard that the law is that live feeding is illegal UNLESS the animal is starving itself rather than eat pre killed. I very well could be wrong, but that is what I have heard.

I'm not a snake owner, but I visit snake forums, specifically ball python forums, and yes, it does seem that ball pythons particularly can be very picky eaters, meaning sometimes they will only take live. There are snake owners here who have experienced this first hand. Shoot, I even heard of a few snakes (ball pythons) that would only eat dark colored prey instead of albino. =/ I personally haven't really heard of other types of snakes being as picky... I'm sure it can happen, but it doesn't seem as common.

Also, Amph, it is possible the reason you don't see a bunch of starving snakes is that since live feeding is illegal, the snakes are raised on pre-killed and therefore never know any different and are less likely to refuse to eat pre killed. Here, however, some breeders may be raising their snakes on live... then someone buys them and tries to switch and it just doesn't work sometimes. Just my thought. Could be wrong.

Sadly, though... lots of snake owners feed live for the heck of it. Most don't know better, I think, and some just don't care.
 

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Doesn't that just make my point for me, it's not necessary but it continues because there is no will to cut it out... :p I know wild caught animals wont always take dead food, I have the same issues pop up in my fish keeping. However the answer is not to keep feeding live and importing wild animals. The solution is captive breeding and a change of the law to stop live feeding to captive raised snakes. I'm not really a person that favors laws telling people what to do but I draw a line when those things harm other people or animals.

This is UK law:The relevant legislation regarding this issue is the 'Animal Welfare Act 2006'. This piece of legislation covers any live vertebrate Animalia other than **** Sapiens, thus all others of the classes of Mammalia, Amphibia, Pices, Aves, Reptilia are included, therefore those of the class Insecta may be fed life (Due to their lack of a spinal cord), therefore it does include any animal which are consumed by other animals which is not an invertebrate. However, the act does not apply to embryos or fetuses.
(Legislation.gov.uk, Accessed 09/11/10 - Animal Welfare Act 2006)

The Act further defines a protected animal as any living in care in the UK, to which the prey of Snakes fall under
(Legislation.gov.uk, Accessed 09/11/10 - Animal Welfare Act 2006)

The Act defines any person responsible as he/she who has charge of the animal, in this case the Reptile owner who buys the animal.
(Legislation.gov.uk, Accessed 09/11/10 - Animal Welfare Act 2006)

The Act states:

"(1)A person commits an offense if—

(a)an act of his, or a failure of his to act, causes an animal to suffer,

(b)he knew, or ought reasonably to have known, that the act, or failure to act, would have that effect or be likely to do so,

(c)the animal is a protected animal, and

(d)the suffering is unnecessary."

These conditions being those under which live prey are fed to Snakes & other animals
(Legislation.gov.uk, Accessed 09/11/10 - http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2006/45/section/4)

The Act also grants law enforcement officers under the Police & Criminal Evidence Act 1984 to enter a premises with the intention of arresting an offender of the Animal Welfare Act 2006
(Legislation.gov.uk, Accessed 09/11/10 - Animal Welfare Act 2006)

Deterrents of the Act include imprisonment of up to 51 weeks & a fine of up to £20,000.
(Legislation.gov.uk, Accessed 09/11/10 - Animal Welfare Act 2006)
Additional deterrents can include disqualification from owning, keeping, transporting e.c.t. any animal.
(Legislation.gov.uk, Accessed 09/11/10 - Animal Welfare Act 2006)

Therefore in summary, feeding any vertebrate animal to another animal is an example of necessary suffering as defined under section four of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, & by the deterrents of the Animal Welfare Act 2006, offenders are punishable by up to 51 weeks imprisonment, a fine of up to £20,000 or both.

I repeat once more we do not have masses of starving reptiles for sale lol..
 

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I agree that many people feed live because they don't want to kill it themselves or because they enjoy pain, I am just saying it is not always the case.
There is a wildlife rehabilitator that I often visit who cares for many snakes, some wild that will be released, some that were injured in the wild and cannot be released, and some non-native ones that needed a home. This man often euthanizes animals hit by cars with just his hands and a knife (I think? not sure, maybe he has a gun), so I do not think he has any problem killing. Also he does not breed rodents himself but buys them as he needs them. He is the one who told me some snakes, depending on individual and species, need live prey. For some reason, he usually feeds hamsters rather than mice or rats. I am actually planning on asking him about it sometime, because I've never seen anyone do that before.
Snakes aren't the only animal that will starve themselves. Certain cats and even breeds of domestic dog (Tibetan mastiff are known for this) would rather starve than accept foreign food.
For the record I don't own a snake, never have and probably never will, but I know lots of people who do.
Some people feed live for "enrichment." They think it's important for the snake to display natural behaviors such as hunting. I know a raptor rescuer who does this too- sometimes the hawks/owls/etc get pre-killed but they still get live every once in a while for "enrichment." Most people who do this only give live prey to snakes that make quick, clean kills- or so I've heard, at least. Pretty sure some zoos do this. Again, not advocating it, just pointing it out.
 

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I'm so sorry you have to witness that and sorry for those poor little rats. I'm a first time rat owner because of a situation similar to this. I was at P**Co with my family-we like to go there and let my children look at all of the animals. We happened to be at the "small animal" section looking at the only 2 large rats that they had at the moment and up came someone asking an employee if they could purchase them to feed his snake. My kids freaked out, my husband and I were appalled. So while the customer was walking around waiting for the employee to finish with another costumer we immediately found the "small animal specialist" and purchased our 2 sweet little ratties. I know that only stopped the snake owner temporarily but I feel we did the best we could. And at the very least that little rat you pulled out of the snakes cage knew that someone cared about it.
 

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There is a wildlife rehabilitator that I often visit who cares for many snakes, some wild that will be released, some that were injured in the wild and cannot be released, and some non-native ones that needed a home. This man often euthanizes animals hit by cars with just his hands and a knife (I think? not sure, maybe he has a gun), so I do not think he has any problem killing. Also he does not breed rodents himself but buys them as he needs them. He is the one who told me some snakes, depending on individual and species, need live prey.
In the case that it is a wild snake, use to eating live prey for survival, it is more understandable. However when a pet snake 'must' eat live prey, surely it is fault of the breeder who raised them on live food instead of frozen?

As for starving themselves to death, I think this is a controversial ethical argument that has no easy answer, but my personal take on it is why is the one life of a snake more important than a hundred rat lives?! As someone who lives in the UK i spent last year with a lot of snakes, including a hog nose snake, corn snakes and a bunch of other predatory reptiles and they all ate frozen prey. We heated the mice and rats up first and in some cases wiggled them around to act alive and it worked like a charm. These reptiles were all raised on frozen prey and I genuinely think that's the difference.
 
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