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Old 02-19-18, 11:17 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Potential first-time snake owner questioning morality

Hello! Recently I have become extremely interested in the world of snake ownership. I watch YouTube videos all the time and have become especially enamored with the western hognose - it is just too cute!

I am very tempted to become a snake owner, but I face a moral conundrum. I am a vegetarian because I do not like to purposefully cause harm to animals (and I know straight away that is already a hypocritical thing to say because I am not vegan and still do cause some harm, but do please bare with me). So the idea of having mice gassed to death really bothers me. I saw a video of how it is done, and you can see that they are desperately gasping for air before they fall asleep. It seems like a rather terrifying and potentially painful way to go.

I own a cat that I obviously have to feed meat to, however the difference is the cat was rescued whereas the snake would have been bred. Additional cats are not produced because I rescued mine, whereas purchasing snakes causes additional snakes to be made (supply and demand - I do love me some capitalism). So it feels as though I am intentionally causing mice to suffer because I am paying a breeder to produce a snake for me.

Has anyone else here ever pondered this dilemma? Or am I the only weirdo that thinks about such things?

Thank you very much for your time.
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Old 02-20-18, 06:04 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Potential first-time snake owner questioning morality

Snakes, unlike humans, are strictly carnivores. There is not immoral about it. From the mouse's perspective it's better to be put to sleep than to be attacked, strangled, and bitten to death, wouldn't you agree?

If you ever life fed a mouse to a snake, you'd agree that gassing them is a heck of a lot more humane.

Snakes will be produced regardless if you buy them, someone else will buy them, and if no-one buys it, it may end up in the breeding group or be used as a feeder itself (snake eat snake world)
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Old 02-20-18, 07:57 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Potential first-time snake owner questioning morality

Avarazac, perhaps you should rethink owning a carnivorous reptile if you are struggling this much. There are many very interesting herbivorous lizards that would make good pets.
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Old 02-20-18, 08:18 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Potential first-time snake owner questioning morality

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Snakes, unlike humans, are strictly carnivores. There is not immoral about it. From the mouse's perspective it's better to be put to sleep than to be attacked, strangled, and bitten to death, wouldn't you agree?

If you ever life fed a mouse to a snake, you'd agree that gassing them is a heck of a lot more humane.

Snakes will be produced regardless if you buy them, someone else will buy them, and if no-one buys it, it may end up in the breeding group or be used as a feeder itself (snake eat snake world)
I agree that it is better to gas a mouse than feed it live to a snake. That completely misses the point I'm making, which is that if we didn't pay breeders to produce these snakes, then we also wouldn't be paying people to produce and kill mice at all.

Snakes will definitely be produced regardless if I buy them, just like cows will be slaughtered even if I don't eat them. However, each person that doesn't eat meat causes there to be slightly less suffering in the world, and combined we cause MUCH less suffering in the world. I imagine the same applies here.
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Old 02-20-18, 08:59 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Potential first-time snake owner questioning morality

I can see and understand ypur conundrum. Not sure if this will help or not, but whether you are feeding your snake a mouse/week or not, millions of mice are bred and euthanized each year for the sole purpose of prey for snakes. Not trying to be cynical, but you choosing to own a snake or not won't put a dent in that.

Anyway, hognose are amazing little snakes. Ive had mine for almost a year and he's an awesome addition to the family.

Goid luck with your decision.
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Old 02-20-18, 09:22 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Potential first-time snake owner questioning morality

Being gassed is probbably less traumatic than being bitten and constricted (the natural way) however you at some point have to come to the realization that for some species their primary purpose is that of being food for other creatures.
It is not cruel, it just is. A wild thing never felt sorry for itself.
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Old 02-20-18, 10:48 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Potential first-time snake owner questioning morality

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Originally Posted by Avarazac View Post
Has anyone else here ever pondered this dilemma? Or am I the only weirdo that thinks about such things?

Thank you very much for your time.
your question has 3 pages of answers feeling guilty about feeding
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Old 02-20-18, 10:54 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Potential first-time snake owner questioning morality

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I am very tempted to become a snake owner, but I face a moral conundrum. I am a vegetarian because I do not like to purposefully cause harm to animals ...

Has anyone else here ever pondered this dilemma? Or am I the only weirdo that thinks about such things?
Am not a vegetarian, but I did ponder this problem a good bit before buying my snake. The short story of my pondering the problem is that I got over it.

After my first batch of mice was delivered, I was rather appalled & wondered why in the world I'd chosen a pet that eats things I would consider a pet. I have dogs & cats that eat meat. Other animals are born, raised & killed to feed them. The same applies to me. The only solution to the problem is for none of us to have pets. Just bought a second snake recently so clearly I didn't choose that. As for buying compared to rescuing, I did check around with rescue/adoption groups that handle reptiles. Some are reptile specific. Others are shelters & humane societies that take in all varieties of unwanted pets. When looking, the snakes I found were all are ball pythons or one of the large boa or python species. That just isn't the type of snake I wanted. However, if that is what you are interested in, I strongly encourage you to seek one out. You can adopt a snake rather than buy one. I decided that for me it was not unethical to buy, but I would only do captive bred. There is also the consideration of husbandry of the parents of the captive bred snakes. I did do some research & didn't find bad things about the sellers, but... Well, that doesn't prove there aren't bad things. If I was going to be truly ethical I would have check that out in person or gotten information on them from a reputable source. In reality, I didn't.

If you want a another philosophical/ethical problem, try considering that plants have just as much right to life as animals. Most harvesting processes are quite damaging to plants, often deadly. Should we restrict our eating only to nuts, berries & vegetables harvested in the least damaging way? Am not saying this to be critical or snotty. It is actually something I've considered.

Again, clearly I have made some peace with the idea of other creatures being bred & then killed just to fee myself and my pets. The majority of living things in some way consume other living things. You just have to decide what is right for you.
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Old 02-20-18, 04:41 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Potential first-time snake owner questioning morality

Easy fix, adopt a snake! There are sometimes ball pythons, corns, etc that come up for adoption, just not as many out there as say cats. What about an iguana or uro or tortoise instead of a snake?
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Old 02-21-18, 09:35 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Potential first-time snake owner questioning morality

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Easy fix, adopt a snake! There are sometimes ball pythons, corns, etc that come up for adoption, just not as many out there as say cats. What about an iguana or uro or tortoise instead of a snake?
Was going to say the same thing. My state has a reptile society that has adoptions all the time. They recently did an event at a local pet store chain. I adopted a sand boa and several ball pythons found new homes as well. You can also check craigslist or join local facebook groups. Plenty of people get snakes for their kids and dont realize the long term commitment they put themselves in.
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Old 02-21-18, 10:44 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Potential first-time snake owner questioning morality

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Easy fix, adopt a snake! There are sometimes ball pythons, corns, etc that come up for adoption, just not as many out there as say cats. What about an iguana or uro or tortoise instead of a snake?
Yeah, after I made this post I started looking into the possibility of adopting a snake from someone that didn't have the means or will to take care of it any more. I think this might be a way to get around the issues I'm having with it. I don't think any of my local animal shelters take in reptiles, but I will definitely keep an eye on Craigslist.

Thank you all very much for your replies!
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Old 02-21-18, 01:03 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Potential first-time snake owner questioning morality

Snakes being produced in captivity isn't as bad as you might think.
not that long ago, and in some cases still, snakes are being imported from their native habitat and are sent to various amounts of places around the world.
since a lot of snakes are now being captive bred it reduces pressure on the snakes in the wild.
this is obviously way better for nature as we aren't stripping it of their natural predators.

although I do understand why you wouldn't want to support the suffering of mice, snakes are strictly carnivores.
this doesn't mean however that their arent some alternatives, I believe some species of garter snake are able to live on a diet of fish and worms.
I'm pretty sure there are more alternatives that can survive on other foods than mice.
just make sure you do your research and do whatever you feel comfortable with.
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Old 02-22-18, 08:55 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Potential first-time snake owner questioning morality

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Snakes being produced in captivity isn't as bad as you might think.
not that long ago, and in some cases still, snakes are being imported from their native habitat and are sent to various amounts of places around the world.
since a lot of snakes are now being captive bred it reduces pressure on the snakes in the wild.
this is obviously way better for nature as we aren't stripping it of their natural predators.
better for nature, yes. Breeding of any animal is a way uglier practice than most of us want to admit though. Similar to livestock keeping. I eat meat and keep pets so I am not saying "stop the industry" but I am also not blind to it and try to buy from more responsible sources. As hobbyists we want to think that breeders are lovers of the animals they breed and every hatchling comes out pretty and gets sold to a loving home. The reality is a lot of breeders are in it for the money. It is better for the bottom line to dispose of hatchlings that dont look to be a high demand seller due to morphs, coloration, abnormal markings, or birth defects. Better to toss them or sell them as feeders (which I dont have a problem with) than to feed it and keep it and not be able to sell it for a profit. So captive breeding might be better for the ecosystem but if you are an animal rights type of person, it isn't all that much better. This also goes for all pet breeders. Puppy mills are the same way. But there are some breeders that are open about their practices and some that are even lovers of the creatures they breed.
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Old 02-23-18, 07:00 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Potential first-time snake owner questioning morality

Snakes with deformities, IMO, should not be sold because some idiot will try to breed it and if it is genetic, you're only contributing to the likelihood of issues. I would only give them anyway to someone local who I knew had zero interest in breeding and I wouldn't continue a line if it had frequent issues that no environmental explanation could be found for.
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Old 02-23-18, 08:51 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Potential first-time snake owner questioning morality

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As hobbyists we want to think that breeders are lovers of the animals they breed and every hatchling comes out pretty and gets sold to a loving home. The reality is a lot of breeders are in it for the money (really? how many is "a lot"? 50%? 80%?? I have dealt with "a lot" over the years and found that most if not all truly love their animals over any profit they may gain). It is better for the bottom line to dispose of hatchlings that dont look to be a high demand seller due to morphs, coloration, abnormal markings (or, maybe just sell them as "pets" to someone who really wants a reasonably priced snake/lizard/etc and not a high dollar morph) or birth defects (isn't culling humane? they'd be eaten or die in the wild). Better to toss them or sell them as feeders (which I dont have a problem with) than to feed it and keep it and not be able to sell it for a profit. So captive breeding might be better for the ecosystem but if you are an animal rights type of person,(i'm pretty sure most "animal rights" groups would outlaw the ownership of all animals) it isn't all that much better. This also goes for all pet breeders. Puppy mills are the same way. But there are some breeders that are open about their practices and some that are even lovers of the creatures they breed (this kinda contradicts your first postulate, doesn't it?).
that's a pretty broad brush you paint with.
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