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Old 08-04-03, 03:08 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Just Realized I Have a Moral Problem with Feeding Live (Warning: Long)

When I picked up my female Louisiana milksnake, the breeder gave me a live pinkie to feed to her when I got home. When I was younger, I wouldn't have had a problem with this, but I am growing softer with age. I understand that life feeds on life, but I would prefer humanely-killed thawed food, or even those snake steak sausages that are new on the market. I doubt dog and cat owners like to think about exactly what is in their pets' bowls. And some of us don't like to think about exactly what is in that Big Mac with extra cheese.

Anyway, the yearling milksnake did a pretty pathetic job of constriction and tried to eat the pinkie tail-first. She couldn't quite swallow it. After she wrestled with it for a long time, I couldn't stand it anymore. On the one hand I was concerned about the snake because I could see she was going into contortions, trying to force a breech-feed into her stomach. On the other hand, I hated seeing the mouse suffer. As it went further and further into the snake's mouth, it had a harder and harder time breathing. Finally I couldn't stand watching any longer. The snake wasn't making any progress. The pinkie was suffering.

I don't know if I did the right thing or not, but I held onto the pinkie until the snake spat it out. After that, the snake was stressed and didn't feel like trying again. That poor little mouse lived through the whole ordeal, though its skin had been torn by the snake's small teeth. With no mother here and its skin torn, I figured the pinkie was done for, so I washed it in warm water and fed it to Bayou to put it out of its misery.

I didn't like watching that. Not one bit.

Now the female Arizona Mt. King isn't feeding. I don't know how much of it to chalk up to her being in new surroundings and how much to chalk up to her not liking frozen mice. I would really rather not feed live if I can help it.

I was raised in an environment where people considered animals mere tools for enjoyment. So, even though it tugged at my heart strings, I stuffed it down deep when my family and their friends purposely hurt animals.

When I was a teenager, I actually ended up with a pet rat one of my snakes didn't eat and it was one of the best pets I've ever had. Rats are intelligent and make great pets, much better pets than hamsters, btw.

I just don't get my jollies watching rodents suffer long, fearful deaths in the coils of a snake. I didn't have problems feeding humanely-killed snake food. I just hate to see an animal in pain and fear.

In a perfect world, life wouldn't feed on life, but we don't live in a perfect world.

Back in November, I saw a killer whale eat a yearling sea lion. This kind of thing happens in huge numbers, every day, all over the world. Sometimes I wish it were otherwise. But this is nature's way and it cannot be changed. Carnivores can't be forced to accept a vegetarian diet. They cannot digest vegetation properly. If we forced our carnivorous pets onto a strict vegetarian diet, they would suffer and die. The best we can do is make sure the "circle of life" process is as painless as possible.

In our modern world, humans are very much removed from the circle of life. Most of us don't hunt our own meat; therefore, many of us are either too sensitive to the "circle of life" process or completely desensitized because we don't think about where meat, dog food, cat food, snake food (etc.) comes from.

I've seen and felt both extremes. I watched my father, brother and their friends purposely torture animals for amusement. When the animals were dead, they had no further use for them. Once I grew up and decided for myself that this is wrong, I've found myself almost too sensitive. It's up to all of us to find a balance. Deliberately causing suffering is wrong. But so is not realizing that the world is what it is: life feeds on life. The best we can do (as I've said) is to make the process as painless as possible.

Some people are so distressed by the idea of eating meat they become vegetarians. I respect this choice and I've toyed with the idea myself. However, true carnivores can never become vegetarians. Our carnivorous companion animals would sicken and die if not fed a proper diet.

As a highly sensitive person (probably too sensitive), this realization is sometimes very hard for me.

What is this about a CO2 machine for dispatching rodents? I may need one...although I hope not.
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1.2 Okeetee corns (Kathy Love)
1.1 albino Okeetee corns (Kathy Love)
1.0 hypo crimson corn (Kathy Love)
0.1 hypo corn / het for ghost (Kathy Love)
1.0 double-yellowheaded Amazon parrot

Last edited by Ladyhawk; 08-04-03 at 03:26 AM..
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Old 08-04-03, 03:56 AM   #2 (permalink)
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IMO what you did was One of the stupidest things I have heard A herper do

But I am all calm now that pinkie was raised as food. do you feel sorry for the cow you may have eaten? or even the Corn or rice you have eaten in the past. I wouldnt either way living things DIE to keep us alive if its a corn stock or cow its all the same they all live. feed your snake F/T from now on then again most pet stores dont humanely kill them either. they have whats called "wacking duty" and it is what it sounds.
And I HATE when people use the word "humane" human's rarely are what this word means. we brutally murder each other every ever hour evey day every week since when the first human existed till now. ( keep in mind I have No personal problem with you your actions were stupid IMO) and I formally applogize if I offended you
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Old 08-04-03, 04:18 AM   #3 (permalink)
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If you had bothered to actually read my whole post, you would realize that I know life feeds on life. Your response makes it obvious you did not read the whole thing.

I know everything dies. I know it firsthand. I literally watched the life drain out of my father in his last minutes. I have had to euthanize animals. When I was younger, I hunted with a gun. I don't do the latter anymore because all the hunters I know are poaching morons who enjoy torturing animals.

Perhaps I don't know the right things to do when a snake is stuck and can't swallow a live prey item halfway down its throat. She was going into contortions and thrashing. What would you have done?

Again, I am relatively new at keeping snakes. I don't think it's sincere to insult a person, then apologize in the same sentence. Shame on you! If you know of a better way to handle the situation of a stuck snake, then inform me without insulting me.

Even though everything has to die, and even though all life feeds on life, we have a responsibility to kill food items--I'm going to use the dreaded "h" word--in a HUMANE way. We are thinking beings. Yes, we are are part of the circle of life, but that doesn't mean we have to be sadistic about how we feed our pets. If we can control the level of pain and fear food animals feel, then we should.

And shame on you for drawing conclusions from a post you didn't read in its entirety!
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1.1 Louisiana milksnakes (John Yurkovich)
1.2 Okeetee corns (Kathy Love)
1.1 albino Okeetee corns (Kathy Love)
1.0 hypo crimson corn (Kathy Love)
0.1 hypo corn / het for ghost (Kathy Love)
1.0 double-yellowheaded Amazon parrot

Last edited by Ladyhawk; 08-04-03 at 04:52 AM..
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Old 08-04-03, 05:12 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Ladyhawk....Your snake would of found a way to get it down by taking it out of his mouth was not a good idea now all you have is a pinkie that has probably died and a very stressed snake that wont eat you should try F/T if you dont like to give it live or have someone kill the pinkies for you

as for these "snake steak suasages" is that for real

I also don't like to feed live but some time we have no choice

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Old 08-04-03, 05:36 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Probably she would have, but for some reason an image I saw on a documentary was flashing in my mind: a dead snake with a food item halfway down its throat. Most probably this rarely happens.

All I can say is that I was concerned about the snake and concerned about the amount of suffering the mouse was enduring. I wasn't sure what to do. As a newbie, maybe you wouldn't have done the same thing I did, but then again, maybe you would have.

Next time I'll know better.

Regardless, I don't feel that insults are a proper way to instruct someone who has made a mistake, no matter how "stupid" you feel it was.
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1.1 Louisiana milksnakes (John Yurkovich)
1.2 Okeetee corns (Kathy Love)
1.1 albino Okeetee corns (Kathy Love)
1.0 hypo crimson corn (Kathy Love)
0.1 hypo corn / het for ghost (Kathy Love)
1.0 double-yellowheaded Amazon parrot
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Old 08-04-03, 06:04 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Ok in all honesty I didnt mean to offend you.... I was just stating my opinion
But anyways how big was the prey item? was it thick then the snakes widest point? some times snakes will not try to swollow unless the prey items heart has stopped. unless of course you fed it too big of a prey item that it couldnt kill. What do you mean by "contractions" some snakes will wiggle in order to help the food slide down.

and you right I didnt read it all.... I made a snap judgement And I will applogize for that and what i said
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Old 08-04-03, 06:26 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I probably would of done the same thing my first time if my Hamlet hadn't been so big but when you took the mouse away so that it wouldn't suffer, you are actually making the snake suffer around 3x more than before. Snakes need TONS of energy to get a bit of a mouse into their mouths but the energy is then created again from the mouse after it's digested. When the snake used all that energy and then couldn't restore it, you wouldn't believe how stressed he is... he's probably suffering as much as the mouse did when he was getting eaten! Your little milk may never eat again since she won't have enough energy to grab the mouse with and might die sometime soon. Although you probably thought that you were helping, you won't but I know that if you knew about this earlier, then you wouldn't of done it. I wish you the best of luck with her and I hope that she eats again.

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Old 08-04-03, 06:32 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Young milksnakes usually have great feeding responses so you should be able to feed f/t food items in the future without problems. Make sure it's nice and warm, jiggle it a little bit a couple of inches from it's head and it should get snapped up quickly.

I too really don't enjoy feeding live prey to my snakes, I've had to do it in the past for problem feeders but thankfully managed to get them all swithched over to p/k or f/t food. The worst one in my collection was one of my first corns who would for the first year of her life only eat live pinkies and fuzzies. It was terrible for me to watch as she wouldn't constrict them before eating, she would just swallow them alive and very often from the backside first. On more than one occasion, the little fuzzy was still squeaking after being completely swallowed! That is pretty sad I can tell you, to see the "bump" still moving and squeaking as it's going down...

In the future, I would let your snake manage with it's food item on it's own. It is extremely rare that your snake could choke on it's meal, it will spit it out if it is too big. It may seem like your snake was having a hard time but I would guess that it was just the usual contorsions of a young snake. I have noticed that very young snakes will go through quite an aerobic exercise when eating their first meals. My theory is that the instinct is telling them what to do but since it's their first times they are clumsy and take longer to do the job. After a few meals, they get much better and faster at "making the kill" and eating. All my hatchlings and very young snakes went through such a period.

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Old 08-04-03, 06:41 AM   #9 (permalink)
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The snake is tiny (nine inches) and the prey item was fine for the snake's size (newborn pink). However, she tried to swallow it tail first and couldn't get past the front legs. She was actually flipping over backward and writhing unnaturally...or at least what I interpreted as unnaturally. I watched her for some time before intervening. To me it seemed like an eternity. Instinctively, I know it's not wise to intervene with nature, but I made a judgment call. Maybe the wrong one.

Although I am still what you would call a newbie, I've watched snakes feed often enough to know what a normal feeding looks like. This didn't look normal to me.

Initially, she had tried to constrict the pinkie, but didn't actually kill it. The pinkie was gasping for breath at the same time the snake was flipping backward and writhing strangely. Perhaps I made the wrong decision, but I felt the snake's life might actually be in danger and I felt the pinkie was suffering needlessly.

By the way, Bryce, I like your quotes. I know the second is attributed to Benjamin Franklin. And if you're saying what I think you're saying about current events, I agree with you whole-heartedly.
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1.1 Louisiana milksnakes (John Yurkovich)
1.2 Okeetee corns (Kathy Love)
1.1 albino Okeetee corns (Kathy Love)
1.0 hypo crimson corn (Kathy Love)
0.1 hypo corn / het for ghost (Kathy Love)
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Old 08-04-03, 06:57 AM   #10 (permalink)
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>I wish you the best of luck with her and I hope that she eats >again.

I was concerned both ways: concerned because she was flipping all over trying to down that mouse and concerned because I knew it would be stressful if I intervened. I really was torn about what to do at the time. Perhaps I panicked.

It seems you're all in agreement: don't intervene. In the future I won't. You see, I need to learn. That's why I'm here.

Anyway, the milksnake suffered no lasting effects that I can tell and the tortured pinkie met a quick death in the end. The milksnake is eating fine. She's a trooper, obviously. I'm relieved she survived my mistake.

You're right, Pixie. It isn't fun to watch, but if the snake would starve without live food, that wouldn't be fun to watch, either. It's not exactly like we can make all the world's animals vegetarians. It doesn't work that way.

I have a question: Do you always have to start youngsters with live pinks or do some of them start right away on frozen thawed?

Probably different species have different propensities.
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1.1 Arizona mountain kingsnakes (Chris Baubel and Gerold Merker)
1.1 Louisiana milksnakes (John Yurkovich)
1.2 Okeetee corns (Kathy Love)
1.1 albino Okeetee corns (Kathy Love)
1.0 hypo crimson corn (Kathy Love)
0.1 hypo corn / het for ghost (Kathy Love)
1.0 double-yellowheaded Amazon parrot

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Old 08-04-03, 06:59 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I understand what you mean by the snake writhin unaturally and flipping backwards. That is what I was referring to about young snakes eating. I've seen my young corns and little pueblan do that when eating for the first times.

You could be right that the snake was having a hard time but I have a feeling it was just young and inexperienced. In my case, I've seen such behavior often.

As for snakes eating their food backwards from the butt end first, that is also quite common. In fact, my colubrids seem to do so regularly about half of the time. They still get their food down fine that way, maybe it'll take a tad longer than head first.

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Old 08-04-03, 07:02 AM   #12 (permalink)
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the first belongs to Harry Truman This ain't the place to discuss politic's though....

In all of the time I have owned herps I have never heard of something like this happening. unless the food item was too big and only with bigger prey items. pinkies are mighty easy to kill. It makes me wonder if it had ever eaten live. but you said they told you to feed live it seems like it all just went wrong try either a pre killed pinkie or a F/t one next time if it doesnt go off quick and smooth something is definately up with the snake
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Old 08-04-03, 07:03 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Sheesh Ladyhawke I have no idea why you're getting such negetive remarks from this. I personally see exactly where you're coming from to be honest.

I have different reasoning for not liking live feeding however. People say that it's more natural. But if you think about it, Yes, in the WILD it's natural and the prey has a chance at escape, and the snake has a chance to escape if things get rough. We're keeping snakes in enclosures. There's no chance at escape for either predetor nor prey and therefore it really isn't natural because they're trapped with each other. I find it sadistic.

I know some snakes will only feed live at first, and if I had to, I would feed them live (the ball at the store only eats live)...I'm just stating that I understand where you're coming from. I had one pet rat and four pet mice.

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Old 08-04-03, 07:21 AM   #14 (permalink)
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No politics. You're right, this isn't the place.

Anyway, I won't intervene next time...if there is a next time and there probably will be.

SerpentLust: I have fond memories of a pet rat I had as a youngster. It was a rat my wild-caught gopher snake refused to eat. The rat was so tiny, she still needed milk, so I fed her from an eye dropper. She lived the usual three years, but when she died, I cried buckets. I would cry if something happened to one of the snakes in my care, too.
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1.1 Arizona mountain kingsnakes (Chris Baubel and Gerold Merker)
1.1 Louisiana milksnakes (John Yurkovich)
1.2 Okeetee corns (Kathy Love)
1.1 albino Okeetee corns (Kathy Love)
1.0 hypo crimson corn (Kathy Love)
0.1 hypo corn / het for ghost (Kathy Love)
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Old 08-04-03, 07:47 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Well you should have left the mice to the snake . It is unexperienced and this kind of thing will happen again . Never forget that you have no right to change natures way the snake has to learn so as lill cheetahs learning to kill a young gazelle playing with it and torturing it to death ( its actually the worst i have seen ) . Let the snake learn thats how it is since the dawn of time .
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