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Old 09-27-03, 02:52 PM   #1 (permalink)
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What's so bad about anthropomorphism?

Lately there have been a few posts about avoiding anthropomorphism (giving animals human qualities) and how giving your snake any kind of human quality is a bad thing. I'm just wondering why this is. I know that I personally love to think of Huxley in human terms; I feel very motherly towards him...I like to think of him as wanting to come out of his tank or as liking me more than other people.

I'm not saying that we shouldn't correct newbies if they say that their snake likes to be handled, enjoys being in public, etc...

What is the danger of this kind of attitude if you are internally aware that it isn't true, and you give your snake the proper environment and don't stress it out with over-handling? I think part of the joy of having a pet is knowing that it needs your care, and thinking (even if it's not accurate) that your pet likes you. I guess it's just depressing to me to tell myself all the time, "Huxley merely TOLERATES me being around, that's all."

Does that make me (and anyone else who feels the same) bad snake keepers?
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Old 09-27-03, 03:14 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I feel the same way. I just think there is a limit to it. I like to think that my snakes enjoy being handled and exploring outside of their enclosures. I haven't had a problem with handling my snakes once a week. I think the people that let their snake free roam are crazy and are pushing it a little too far, though. If you snake reacts badly to handling, stop handling so much. It's common sense, really. But anyway, I like to think that my snakes have personalities..even though they are just individual "characteristics" (which, I think, amounts to having a personality). If that makes me a bad keeper, then I'm a damn bad keeper. Oh well!
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Old 09-27-03, 03:15 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Anthromorphism is not totally bad but I feel it is not a good thing to do because you are misinterpreting an animal's real feelings and actions. Snakes can't feel love, only toleration towards us, but I still love all of mine to death.

It can become dangerous because when people say that their snakes "like" to be handled, some of these snakes also "like" to go off food if overhandled, baffling the owner on why his or her snake is fasting because they think their snake loves them and wants to be with them all the time. That is when it becomes bad.

I handle each of my snakes about half an hour in total each week, sometimes an hour in a week, and I haven't had any problems to speak of.

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Old 09-27-03, 03:47 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Anthropomorphism is a term use by the science community; they seem to think the lack of it will give accurate studies based on fact not human emotions. Its main objective is to keep the human race above all creatures, this same science community studying human races brains to compare evidence of intelligence level between races, however will not discuss any significant findings with the general public, and this in both of the above?
I guess we are soo smart! (_e=mc2_)
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Old 09-27-03, 03:59 PM   #5 (permalink)
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...

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Lately there have been a few posts about avoiding anthropomorphism (giving animals human qualities) and how giving your snake any kind of human quality is a bad thing. I'm just wondering why this is.
Because then you begin to think of the snake as an extension of yourself and not the being that it is. Its totally bad and aside from wild caught animals, is the worst part of the hobby. Of course its bad. When you start to do that, you start to think that your snake is doing things for reasons that are NOT the true reason. This can then lead to BAD/WRONG husbandry. And it normally does.

They don't love you. They are conditioned to have responses or not have responses to certain things you may or may not do. That is it. The faster that people realize this, the better off most captive snakes will be. They don't enjoy your company. They have no concept of what "company" even is. I can't believe that people think they do, in this day and age.
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Old 09-27-03, 04:03 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I would say however that they enjoy the warmth of the human body?
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Old 09-27-03, 04:56 PM   #7 (permalink)
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It really boils down to the fact, as said previous, that we humans are conceited. We find it hard to comprehend that other creatures don't need and love us. I love my critters for their beauty in the way they are. I try to understand their "ways" in order to better care for them......and not get bit......If you want to find out how much your reptile loves you just leave the enclosure open and see how long he hangs around...lol
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Old 09-27-03, 04:59 PM   #8 (permalink)
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And if you were small enough, they would consider you food. See, that's exactly what Jeff was talking about. Snakes do not 'like the heat of a human body'. They like heat. Be it from a rock, warm wood or another animal. They could care less about us, that's why they are different from a dog, or a cat, or a fuzzy little hampster. This is why, among other reasons, that owning snakes presents its own unique way of handling the situation. Most people buy a pet that will 'love us unconditionally'; hamsters that will cuddle into your hands, a dog that will lick your face when you get home from work or a cat that purrs when you pet it. These pets, (I have a few of them) are around for companionship. They are around to make us feel better after work or to cheer us up. Snakes do not serve that purpose because they don't care if we are around or not. And it seems pretty egoistic that we think that they are.
Charlie; I just read your post and you nailed it Boss. Dead on, and in way less words than I needed to use. It's all about the ego. Everyone needs their snakes to need us, an want to be around us. Not the case, if fact, the exact opposite.

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Old 09-27-03, 05:00 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I definately don't think that my snakes "love" me. I simply think that they enjoy being out of their cage, exploring and the like. Snakes don't have emotions like that. It's nice to think that they do, but like previously said, it's concieted and all about the human involved.
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Old 09-27-03, 05:19 PM   #10 (permalink)
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You know the way every talks about how we shouldn't handle our animals and how they don't want or need us maybe we should take a step back and think then why the hell do we have these animals in captivity. Cause I can garuntee they damn well probably like being in a cage far less then being touched. Your right snakes are not companion animals like dogs and cats so maybe...just maybe we shouldn't own them at all. Not only own them but breed genetic traits that would be a death sentence in the wild. But I won't get into that. I'm not taking sides here just keep in mind owning snakes period isn't what the animal wants either. I know captive breeding is a neccessity thanks to the state of our world but most herp owners are not breeders. Just some food for thought.
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Old 09-27-03, 05:29 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Because a snake is NOT a dog. If you want a pet you can play with all the time, get a dor or cat. If you act with a snake the way you would with a cat, you're going to stress the heck out of it. If you start thinking your animals love you and miss you when you leave, you're going to treat it like a mammal that ENJOYS human companionship. All this leads to bad husbandry (ie: "well, my snake doesn't bite when his tank is kept at 70F, so he must like that better" >> obviously none of us here will think so).

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Cause I can garuntee they damn well probably like being in a cage far less then being touched.
Not if the cage meets reptile's needs. When they are out of the cage, they are "vulnerable" to predators (be they the handler, birds coming from above, etc). They can't thermoregulate. When they are being handled and touched they need to worry about, worry "is this big animal going to eat me?".

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Not only own them but breed genetic traits that would be a death sentence in the wild.
Yup, good point. Just look at the CB burms that die in their first half decade because they are so weak genetically. But these animals ARENT in the wild, so it will not harm them to look different (unless the trait itself is detrimental). Keeping them in captivity (usually) guarantees the animal a better, longer life. A reliable source of food, heat, water, no predators, etc. But you're right, perhaps we shouldn't be keeping them in the captivity. [That would be easier if their habitat wasn't being destroyed, of course.]

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I guess it's just depressing to me to tell myself all the time, "Huxley merely TOLERATES me being around, that's all."
I see the angle you're coming from, and I know you take good care of your herps (that's obvious). But if you get depressed by the fact that your snake doesn't like you anymore than it likes a warm rock, then herps probably aren't for you.

Zoe

Last edited by Zoe; 09-27-03 at 05:32 PM..
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Old 09-27-03, 05:33 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I agree with Zoe about herps liking their enclosure more than being handled..definately. Their enclosure is their home..I think my snakes "enjoy" coming out and exploring a bit, but home is where the heart is, if you know what I mean. I certainly feel more comfortable when I'm at home.
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Old 09-27-03, 05:43 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I agree alot with what you say Zoe don't think I'm arguing or anything, just a added some points to be considered. But think a jail cell can meet the needs of a human that doesn't mean they like it. Know what I mean?
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Old 09-27-03, 06:14 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Anthropomorphism and inter racial intelligence are the most taboo subjects to modern science, you can debate all you whant about what your reptiles are capable of or not, and give opinions like cats and dogs! Witch by the way we have domesticated and are no less predator then any reptiles, the facts remain shod science come out and say Animals are capable of emotion! This who’d be like setting a nuclear bomb on a global scale, just think about it for 10 second, see the implications?
This is why science never uses anthropomorphism, admitting to the slightest emotion that’d start a chain reaction with very very awful results.
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Old 09-27-03, 06:18 PM   #15 (permalink)
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reptiles, the facts remain shod science come out and say Animals are capable of emotion!
I think it's pretty well understood that mammals are capable of emotion. It's beneficial for them in the wild, to live in a pack/herd and such. Yes, they are predators, but dogs, for example, need to have an "alpha dog" in the pack, which would be the human (most of the time! ). Its the same in captivity - a dog learns if he's good and such he gets treats and gets petted.

I still, however, fail to see how this would apply to reptiles. Crocs, maybe? I've never worked with them, but they are supposed to have the biggest reptile brains. But I still have trouble believing that my leopard gecko loves me and misses me when I leave for the weekend.

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