Why NOT to live feed. - Paw Talk - Pet Forums
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post #1 of 40 (permalink) Old 03-31-2008, 04:35 AM Thread Starter
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Why NOT to live feed.

Recently this has come up and trying to be polite I didn't want to take over someone else's thread to discuss it. Funny thing is I never thought this would come up on a forum of mice\rat lovers but hey stranger things have happened!
First off let me say I am not in ANY way against snakes or anyone who owns them! I have infact owned snakes and would again if the oppurtunity arrose.
I am however against live feeding. Most people who live feed are under the assumption that it is better for their snake but that simply is not true. Live feeding, aside from being cruel to the mouse\rat\rabbit\ect, can be very hazardous to your snake. Many times I have seen snakes injured or killed due to live feeding attempts. Rodents have teeth and claws, and they WILL fight for their life, wouldn't you? One of the snakes I rescued was a one eyed burmese python named Jasmine. She had one eye because the other was ripped out by a rat. The owner gave her up because he didn't think he could ever switch her to frozen\thawed food and he assumed she would starve to death. This however is another myth. Snakes can and will switch to f\t. Bottom line is when they are hungry, they will eat. The f\t rodents can (well, must) be heated in warm water you can then use a pair of tongs to wiggle it around and thus simulate live prey. Believe it or not the snakes are easily enough fooled! LOL
Other benefits to your herp include the fact that freezing kills any bacteria, germs, viruses, ect. that the rodent may have had prior to death, which can be transmitted to your herp. Also, if your herp does not consume the prey within a certain amount of time you can always refreeze for later, and you can even stock up, and not worry about housing and or feeding the prey.
There is also some concern with the red dye factor. Alot of irresponsible breeders\pet stores use cheap dog food as the main source of feed for their feeder rodents. Cheap dog food contains large quanities of red dye to make it look "meatier" this red dye can be absorbed and stored in the rodents organs. Obviously this is bad for the poor rodents but seeing as their days are numbered, it is even worse for your herp. Large quanities of red dye can be toxic even fatal to most snakes\herps.
Well I think I have pretty much covered that, now onto the cruelty factor. Obviously live feeding is cruel to the intended prey. Their lives are basically pitiful from the star. Not properly cared for, housed fed, overbred. Then what do they get? They get an extremely stressful last few minutes with a snake, if they don't have a heart attack first they get the life squeezed out of them, or if they are really lucky they are still partially alive when the feeding begins. Anyone who does not think this cruel really should not be owning rodents as pets.
F\T rodents are lab raised, usually free of parasites, fed well, cared for and generally kept comfortable until which time they are painlessly euthenized with co2 gas. (Which BTW has fully dissipated from their bodies before making it to your freezer, so don't panic just yet)
Please spare me the "But in the wild they...." bottom line this is NOT the wild! Your snake is not out hunting mice that have probably atleast lived a somewhat fullfilling life until..dun dun dun.. they are snatched up and eaten for dinner!
Ok last but certainly not least what I feel is the worst of the worst. Breeding your own mice\rats to feed your herp. That in my book is completely irresponsible. I will not rehash my views on breeding ethics (your welcome) however this is just completely unnesascary. There are already hundreds of thousands of rodents not properly cared for, sick and dying in feeder bins all over the world, why create more? Of course I have heard the argument that it is simply cheaper but when you figure in the cost of housing and feeding these doomed critters, how much are you really saving? Not to mention, how you could own an animal long enough to get it pregnant, gestate, and give birth. Then watch those adorable little babies grow and thrive only to end up in a snakes belly, is completely beyond me!
Well I'm tired now and I think I have said all I can possibly think to say. I hope you have made it this far with me, and I hope I have gotten my point across wihtout being rude or abrasive. I hope I have helped to educate some people, and if I have changed even one mind to atleast entertain the possibility of feeding f\t prey, then my goal is accomplished.
Oh and for those of you who may be interested here is a link to mice on ice. This is where I always got my f\t prey (well since the internet anyway!)

Last but not least....Thank You for reading!

Last edited by SugarLovesRats; 03-31-2008 at 04:39 AM.
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post #2 of 40 (permalink) Old 03-31-2008, 05:48 AM
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wow, you said it all hun! I really don't like people breeding their own for snake food, it's soo cruel! I don't know how people can live with themselfs

I'm so glad you brought this up though, it makes people realise whats really going on in this world!

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post #3 of 40 (permalink) Old 03-31-2008, 06:26 AM
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Nice work. But shouldn't this be in the reptile section? Anyways great job

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post #4 of 40 (permalink) Old 03-31-2008, 08:27 AM
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very nicely said. got any breath left?

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post #5 of 40 (permalink) Old 03-31-2008, 11:36 AM Thread Starter
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no not really Mulder LOL. Thanks! I suppose it applies both here and the reptile forum now that you mention it. Maybe I should post there too!
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post #6 of 40 (permalink) Old 03-31-2008, 12:02 PM
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So true, it's not best for the reptile or the rodent to live feed, so few people seem to understand that.

And seeing Genie go through labor and everything has really made me wonder even more how you could take a sweet animal like that, put them through the pains and significant risks or pregnancy labor and delivery, just to give the babies they worked so hard for over as food.

I mean what a betrayal it would be of Genie, who trusts me completely, to take her most prized and protected posessions and put them in harms way!
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post #7 of 40 (permalink) Old 03-31-2008, 12:09 PM
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I totally agree. I feed my snake nothing but f/t. I've seen too many photos of injured and killed snakes from feeding live, Plus, I just don't really have the heart to feed live. And people that bring up that bullcrap about them eating live in nature don't realize that in nature the prey has a chance to escape. In the confines of a cage, they can and will fight back.
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post #8 of 40 (permalink) Old 03-31-2008, 03:09 PM
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Not all snakes will take dead animals.

It is not cruel to let a snake kill a mouse, rat, or other animal. They are made for this, and so are the animals they eat.

I can't see the idea in feeding live animals when there is such a big risc of the animals getting hurt, because they can't act normally in the relativly small cages we can provide them with.

I know of A LOT of VERY good snake and reptile breeders in Denmark who feeds most of their animals with dead animals, but some of them (often wc) won't switch, and will die if not fed live animals. So it's not true that you can always make them eat dead animals!

And what's wrong with breeding your own feed?
Thats much more responsible than bying dead animals, where you DO NOT KNOW how they put them down, no matter what you say.
People over here who breed their own feed take care of their animals, and most of them eaven takes a few of them out as pets.
If you don't treat the animals right, give them the right food and so on, you will get bad feeding-animals. So it's a myth that people who breed their own rodents to feed to snakes don't take care of them.

I don't know how the ruels are in the US, but over here there are some things you may not do when killing of animals.
Normally people hit the rodent in the back of the neck, so it pases out, and then pulls the neck, so it dies instantly.
That's just as humane as gassing the animals.


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post #9 of 40 (permalink) Old 03-31-2008, 03:31 PM
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It is true that some have trouble switching. It's also true that many don't make every effort to switch to frozen/thawed. It's also true that any reptile can be taught to eat that way from hatching if the owner is responsible enough. It's also true that live prey pose a greater risk to the reptile.

Why is it cruel? Well live feeding is cruel because it terrifies the animal without providing the escape possibility that would exist in nature. Let's face it my rat is smarter than your snake, in the wild they would have a fair chance of escape, not so in a tank. It's also cruel and irresponsible in general to the species to breed your own just for food. Why? Because there are already millions of rodents out there condemned to a life of existing just to become live or frozen/thawed food. When there are already so many, why bring more into the world? Also, just like with people, every breeding can cause illness or death in the mother, would you do this to an animal who trusted and loved you, just to get food? Worried about the nutritional value? Buy your f/t from a reputable supplier, supplement with vitamin powder. That's what I've always done with my corns, and I've always had healthy snakes. And it's still cheaper than the price of breeding and caring for mice or rats until they can be fed to your reptile.

The only excuse I would accept for live feeding is someone who has rescued an older snake who is already trained to eat live, has waited the animal out until it is hungry, tried every method to switch the animal over and still had no success. Frankly I can't think of any examples of that, but I would accept that if it was offered.
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post #10 of 40 (permalink) Old 03-31-2008, 05:21 PM
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You make very good points. I heartily agree that everyone should be concerned for the risk that live prey presents to the herp. But every situation is different.

Like Pia, I also have had snakes (and a monitor) that would not take pre-killed prey. Sure you can try to convert them, but as you mentioned, it's just not always possible, and if you have alot of animals to take care of, you just might not have the time (or the motivation) to make that change.

As for breeding your own, sometimes it's a serious financial decision. When you have more 30+ snakes and monitors, it makes economic sense to raise your own food animals. My decision to breed was for two reasons: one was a financial decision, the other reason was because I wanted to be sure that the animals I fed my herps were healthy and free of unnecessary chemicals or drugs (like the red dye you mentioned). They got good quality rodent chow and fresh fruits and veggies (even the occasional healthy table scraps as treats).

While there is nothing pleasant about a rodent being dispatched by a snake, but I wouldn't call it cruel.

One of the definitions of cruel is "enjoying the pain or distress of others". I don't enjoy doing it, nor do I do it for the purpose of inflicting pain and suffering to the rodent. Those are unavoidable byproducts of the death. It happens, so I try to make sure that it's not done unnecessarily or wastefully, and that the rodents are well fed, rested and as stress free as possible right up until the end.

...and BTW, I've seen some of the "mass gassing" that is done to rodents prior to freezing. I would hardly call that a "stress free" death. There was plenty of squeaking, scrambling, fighting and panic. It didn't strike me as nearly as humane as a quick snap followed by a separation of the cervical vertebrae. JMO


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post #11 of 40 (permalink) Old 03-31-2008, 06:01 PM
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REALLY good post i don't know barley anything about reptiles
but i know people who own them and they will only feed theirs on
dead food ..
because they love all animals BIG or SMALL and they don't have the heart
to stand back and watch the poor animal being backed into a corner
(which in the wild it could possibly escape from the predator...)

i don't have anything against reptiles because ALL animals need to eat
and thats what they eat ..

just i know i would'nt have the heart to do that ..

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post #12 of 40 (permalink) Old 03-31-2008, 08:31 PM
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I still have to stand by my stance, even as former owner of quite a few snakes. Just because you don't want to take the time and make the effort or because it may save you money (which is arguable) is no reason to bring animals in to the world just to kill them. There are plenty of small animals in the world already being used for this purpose without every snake owner deciding to breed for themselves.
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post #13 of 40 (permalink) Old 03-31-2008, 11:12 PM
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you say the rats/mice are backed into a corner and scared for their lives i dont belive that unless the rodent is wild caught.
For most cases when feeding live to my wild caught snakes the mouse is so curious about his new surroundings and usually walk strait up to the snakes that are usually in their hides or under the bedding the little guys usually dont even know what hit them.
I just want to add that in most captive bred snakes you should alway feed frozen prey because the snake just does not have the hunting experience or instict that a wild snake would and is much more of a chance of being injured or killed by its food believe me ive seen it not pretty. I do have captive raised snakes and i would never feed live to them but ive had wild snakes for years and tried many different things to switch but the only ones that do are usually less that 1 year old.
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post #14 of 40 (permalink) Old 04-01-2008, 08:03 AM
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Of course though, in that post alone you bring up some interesting ethical issues. Should you own wild caught snakes? Now right off the bat I approve of rescuers having wild caught snakes, and I would not say that everyone else who owns them is necessarily unethical but there can be some issues. For instance, do you always know that the collector collected the animals in a way that was legal and ethical? Is the area that the animal came from being diminished by illegal or unethical catching for the pet trade? You have to really know your supplier and do your research to answer these questions. Also, wild caught reptiles can bring diseases into a healthy colony of captive bred. Is it ethical to risk that? Wild caught animals often to do not acclimate well to captivity and can have chronic health issues because of it, is it ethical to risk that? Now I know it's a bummer because some animals are very hard if not impossible to find captive bred, and I have owned one or two wild caught animals in my life, but in general I think it's a better idea to leave wild animals in the wild and raise captive bred animals as pets. The obvious exception to this would be people rehabilitating the animals or people who had the knowledge and means to breed the animal so that in the future captive bred would be available in the pet trade, for instance the group of men who collected crested geckos from New Caledonia so that they could be introduced captive bred into the pet trade. Most folks though aren't doing animals any favors by taking them out of their natural habitats and keeping them as pets.
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post #15 of 40 (permalink) Old 04-01-2008, 08:11 AM
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how did this become a thread against people who have wild caught animals when its supposed to be about feeding???
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