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Feeding Pets Live Food Is Cruelty

Melissa cares for a variety of exotic animals and has completed a certificate in veterinary assisting and a bachelor's degree in biology.

Learn why it's cruel to feed live food to pets and zoo animals.

Learn why it's cruel to feed live food to pets and zoo animals.

Live Feeding is Cruel

Live feeding is animal cruelty, no matter how you dress it up, no matter how "happy" it may make another animal, and even when it is necessary for picky feeders (this is partially "justified" animal cruelty, but it has its own set of issues). It is wrong, inhumane, unethical, and cruel to inflict a torturous death upon prey animals, regardless of whether or not they were "bred" for this purpose.

What Is Cruelty?

Cruelty is:

  1. Deliberate infliction of pain or suffering
  2. The quality or characteristic of being cruel
  3. A cruel action

Therefore, feeding captive animals live vertebrate prey is animal cruelty. What leads people to defend these obvious acts of animal cruelty?

Common boa eating

Common boa eating

The Absurd Excuses

There appear to be three types of live feeding supporters:

  • People who genuinely care and think they are doing what’s best for the captive animal
  • People who justify their actions because it "occurs in nature" but really are just making an excuse for their enjoyment of witnessing animals kill other animals
  • People who are depraved individuals with anti-social disorder qualities yet have enough restraint to conform to society so they don't take their cruelty out on people (usually)

Sometimes these malicious latter individuals commit particularly vile and painful methods of live feeding just to stir a negative reaction, such as feeding mice to snapping turtles. Even a respected science teacher fed rats and even an allegedly dying puppy to a snapping turtle.

Various Live Feeding Excuses (Some More Stupid Than Others)

  • "It's 'natural'."
  • "I want my animal to experience killing things (they need/love it)."
  • "It's healthier because the vitamins are fresher."
  • "These feeder animals were BRED for this!"
  • "Don't you eat hamburgers?"
  • "My animal won't eat anything else."

Worst Excuse: "Live Feeding Is Natural"

No, it isn't. In nature, cages do not exist, and the prey actually has a chance of escape. Also, to proclaim that "live feeding is natural" as an excuse suggests that everything natural is desirable—including everything from shorter lifespans, disease, exposure to predators, and other forms of negative stress.

It also suggests that the mission of keeping captive animals is to replicate every aspect of nature. In reality, when people keep animals, we select which aspects of nature we want to preserve for the health and wellness of the animal (nutrition, metal stimulation, adequate space) in the hopes of managing a happy and healthy specimen. It is similar to the life we design for ourselves.

Lions need raw meat, not live prey.

Lions need raw meat, not live prey.

We omit many aspects of nature that are pointless, and the idea of keeping an animal captive is not natural from the start. Generally, nowhere in this objective is live feeding needed to achieve this goal.

Ethics in Animal Caretaking

The ethical animal caretaker should not cause any harm to any feeling being unnecessarily. Caring for a captive animal does not mean that the keeper doesn't owe welfare standards to the prey, and this should apply to the animals you choose to consume yourself as well. Your captive animal's environment is NOT nature—this is an environment you are managing.

Some people become so wrapped up in the ‘beauty and wonder of nature’ that they forget (or sugar coat) that pain and suffering is a part of it. Picture tragedies in the news and the sense of horror that goes through your mind when you learn that a person was attacked by an animal or person. Picture the solemn sadness experienced when a child dies of a terminal illness. Those are all real 'natural' life events that are inevitable. Why is predator-prey drama so beautiful and wondrous unless it’s happening to a human?

More Information on Live Feeding in Zoos

  • What Do Tigers Eat In Zoos?
    The average zoo visitor may wonder what it is that tigers eat in zoos. It is the same as in the wild—meat. In the zoo, however, the fare varies, as does the preparation and presentation.

Do Animals Enjoy Killing?

Animals in the wild must kill to obtain their nutrition, but does this equate to enjoyment? Yes and no; animals need an outlet for their energy, but that absolutely doesn’t need to be taken out on a live animal. Domesticated cats likely have "fun" when torturing their prey, but the same level of enjoyment can be achieved with an unfeeling plastic mouse attached to a piece of string or a treat dispensing toy—this is hardly a tremendous inconvenience to the pet owner.

Dogs possess chase instincts that are retained from the prey drive of their ancestors, and a ball and a non-lazy owner will suffice over a living rabbit. Perhaps a living animal to play with will occasionally be a tad more exciting for some animals, but does this justify ignoring the welfare of the animal you are feeding it? It does not begin to approach "cruelty" to disappoint an animal by disallowing them to kill, but causing the prey to suffer DOES.

Some disturbed people actually feed live prey to ferrets.

Some disturbed people actually feed live prey to ferrets.

Prey Animal Welfare Is Important, Too

It's confounding how basic ethical standards evaporate when it comes to the welfare of the prey animal. Even seemingly decent people are willing to forgo a painless or less painful death for an animal in the name of their pet’s enjoyment. This just adds insult to injury when it comes to the questionable status of captive animal ethics.

If animal rights groups ever had a good reason to be anti-pet ownership, they can start with the attitudes some have regarding live feedings. Perhaps it would be easier for most people to see the horror of live feeding if it were done with puppies and kittens. Unfortunately, this sometimes becomes a reality.

What to Do If Your Pet Won't Take Live Prey

If your pet (usually a snake) refuses to eat non-living prey, it might become necessary to feed live, but do not give up permanently. It’s your responsibility as a pet owner to continue the process of trying to get the animal to convert.

Aside from the welfare of the prey, if you take no initiative to get the animal to eat dead food, in the case of snakes, once they reach an adult size you will be required to feed larger prey that are usually rats. Live rats can be good fighters and can maim a snake even if you are watching the entire time.

Two of my Ball Pythons.

Two of my Ball Pythons.

Don't Reptiles Enjoy Killing?

Reptiles (especially snakes) respond to stimuli and do not have "fun" killing in the human sense. Using ball pythons as an example, sometimes snake owners can "harass" these reptiles into a feeding response by dangling the dead rodent and touching the snake's head forcefully. This method of getting a snake to eat frozen-thawed food can be potentially stressful, but effective.

This can provide some insight into the snake's mental process. While eating is a necessity to them, it is an automatic response that can even be induced through undesirable actions. When a snake is successfully trained to accept dead food, it is unlikely that the "killing" experience is any different than with a live rodent.

Frozen rodents

Frozen rodents

The Only Acceptable Excuse

Some people are concerned that the methods used by most frozen rodent dealers are inhumane, sometimes based on some studies that challenge whether or not CO2 methods of euthanasia are pain-free. If it is your actual belief (not wishful thinking to suit your own desires) that death by snake is a more humane death than some of the listed effects of CO2, that is understandable. There is evidence constrictor snakes cause their prey to lose consciousness rapidly and in some of these cases, it can be potentially acceptable.

In such cases, it would be ideal to (honestly) choose the death you would choose for yourself if you had to make the decision. If death by snake sounds more cruel than properly executed CO2 overdose, then you should choose the latter.

Insects/Arthropod Live Prey

There’s no data that confirms a "humane" way of dispatching small arthropods (and limited data on whether or not they can experience pain or stress in the manner of vertebrates) so in those cases, no manner of death can be promoted as ethically superior. Non-live bugs are available freeze-dried and canned, but there's no way to know if the treatment of those arthropods was any better than those fed live to reptiles.

Don't Like Feeding Live Bugs?


Even if you are a food purist who believes that food should be consumed in its raw form to achieve optimal nutrition, you can still feed humanely pre-killed prey (this is also another option for finicky eaters). While there is evidence that some vitamins and other nutrients are lost in the freezing process, there doesn't appear to be any that show this will prove to be harmful to the animal.

Dogs and cats are largely fed commercial diets with cooked meat that has not proven to be harmful. Even people who are feeding those pets raw food rarely do so with extremely fresh meat. If your snake or mammal is receiving whole prey, their diet is already much more fresh than is typically given to most pets.

Reputable Sites in Favor of Non-Live Feeding

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.


Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on August 06, 2020:

BioVoltz: Sad comment, but important for people to see.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on August 06, 2020:

M: You are hopelessly confused.

BioVoltz on August 02, 2020:

I had boas a long time ago. I fed once a live baby rat, and my snake did not kill him as fast as I wanted. I only fed one other time and he had a hard time killing that one too, and it was very hard to watch these poor animals, who thought they were going into a new home, probably just wanted to play and have fun, die very horrible, painful, terrifying deaths. They are sentient animals, and I agree with the article, it is not humane to feed live. It really upset me, and I thought I had to have him doing this, turns out I didn't. He wasn't eating F/T because of humidity, so all I had to do was increase that, and heat up the F/T more and he ate it no problem. The snakes don't like this either, because having to kill is stressful for them. F/T is the way to go for sure.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on August 01, 2020:

Husky-Wolf: What happens in nature isn't up to us, what happens in our care is.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on July 21, 2020:

Jamie A Hood: This article is about LIVE FEEDING. Not feeding meat, whole prey, or animal products. That's why the title is "Feeding Pets Live Food is Cruelty". This isn't that hard to comprehend.

Jamie A Hood on June 22, 2020:

What do you suggest we feed our snakes......Vegan diets don't work to well.... And how can you judge live feeding when human beings are the most cruel animals on Earth we hurt people all the time in wars why don't you go and ban wars this is the stupidest Post I've ever seen..... If you don't want to feed live get a damn rabbit for the rest of us.... We going to do what we got to do

M on June 05, 2020:

This article is what i find funny.I also find it insulting to the point of irritability. Yes, you are “rambling on” and judging people automatically based on one thing. I dont “enjoy” feeding my snake live prey, i dont find it “funny or entertaining”, but if its my only option i am going to do it because I LOVE MY PET. I love my pet snake like anyone else loves their pet and will do what i can to make sure she survives instead of slowly starving herself. So yes, i feed my snake live prey because its the only thing she will eat, does that automatically make me a monster and a horrible human being? For those of you who may think so, look at yourself in the social aspect of this, you’re judging humanity based on pathetic little things like this. I agree with most of the other comments here. If you had a choice, would you rather starve to death for a year or more, or get constricted and die in less than 30 seconds. Get a grip, this is garbage.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 26, 2020:

Potiphar S Flagrum Even funnier

Potiphar S Flagrum on May 24, 2020:

My ferret ate 5 live mice yesterday...funny and entertaining.

Sofia on May 18, 2020:

I totally agree. Stop pretending to yourself that it is ok to do this. Feeding a snake mice, Rats, Rabbits and in some cases kittens is wrong in every way. What does a snake event do? Absolutely nothing. If you feed your snake live food you’re a monster period.

Someone on May 16, 2020:

This pretty bias because even if it isn't live when you feed it its still dead anyway and it was killed by freezing, its not like you can chose how you die unless you suicide so yeah.

LMAO on April 19, 2020:

people should not comment on whether this article is rubbish or not if they can't freaking use their, there and they're correctly. go figure.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 20, 2020:

Kelsey I can't find where I used the word "deranged" (although many people who feed live are deranged). Perhaps this article could use a re-write, but it is not "ramblings".

Kelsey on March 19, 2020:

This was written with way too much personal emotion and bias to be taken seriously. Melissa I’m assuming you’re trying to convince your readers, some which use live feeders, to switch to a method you consider less cruel and more humane. You are not accomplishing your goal by calling that demographic “deranged” and adopting thus “holier than thou” attitude. I seriously thought I was on PETA’s site for a bit. Shame, I was looking forward to an informative article regarding a controversial topic. All I got was some lady’s mad ramblings.

Husky-Wolf on March 01, 2020:

I feel like you're the type of person who will call wolves hunting elk in nature documentaries "cruel" behavior. Live feeding is no different than a snake hunting in the wild. Plus, mice only live for a good 1-2 years.

Alex on February 24, 2020:

if you feed your animal live food is total fine because that is how animals eat in the wild they don't go the pet store and buy there food they hunt and kill the food and eat there pray. also if you cant live with how your animal lives and eats then don't bother getting that kind of pet get a fucking dog.

Hulk30 on November 27, 2019:

I can understand both sides of the argument honestly.

Kayden on November 06, 2019:

Alright. So the picky eaters who only eat live need to be starved to death because 'live feeding is wrong.' I got you. Reptiles are unimportant and feeder rodents should be kept as pets as you watch an unfortunately fussy snake die from starvation as feeding them is wrong. It was alive at some point if it's frozen thawed, and honestly what's the difference? It's killed either way. And for venomous snakes, live feeding helps them digest their prey as the venom aids in the process. It may be hard for some people to watch, and that's okay. No one is saying you have to watch or do it. No matter what, it was alive once, and animals need to eat. It's personal choice. There is no such thing as humanely taking an animals life unless it is sick and being put down to end it's suffering, even then, it'll die anyway. You're not cruel for feeding an animal. You're cruel if you don't let the reptiles switch diets in their own time, and only give them the frozen thawed option, resulting in said reptile dying from starvation. What's worse? 10-20 minutes of pain, or multiple days that turn to weeks and months without food? What's more cruel?

Jude Farthing on August 22, 2019:

This guy has it right. Anyways feeding rats to snakes Well they’re still live is bad but it’s not as bad as feeding them alive to a lizard! Lizards like monitors and tegus shame there prey they don’t care we’re they grab it. I seriously believe that that is the worst way for a feeder rat to go.

Hulk30 on August 18, 2019:

This is pretty biased.......

Danica on August 08, 2019:

How the hell am i gonna feed my leopard gecko then

Gdenofa on June 30, 2019:

Very well said. The key point is putting predator and prey in a closed space is far from nature as it gets. Also most feeder animals are domestic rodents so it’s like tossing a helpless puppy in a shark tank.

Also, I don’t have anything against snakes. I find them graceful and stunning. But if they only eat live prey, than they belong in the wild to naturally live their lives.

lyn on February 19, 2019:

my snake, jack is a picky eater. a lot of the time, we have to supervise him as he eats live food. would you rather feed jack an animal that is bound to die in two years anyways, or have him starve if he doesn’t eat for a long time? ball pythons can live for twenty years. jack is a year and a half. would you rather have him die? snakes have feelings too, and reptiles in general for that matter. sincerely, a reptile lover and defender.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on February 13, 2019:

Anonymous--If you don't enjoy it, why do it? I feed my snakes non-live and I definitely don't enjoy it. I've tried without success to get my ball pythons on Reptilinks. If I had to feed live, I wouldn't get a snake. Plenty of snakes don't eat live.

Anonymous on February 13, 2019:

I have raised rats pretty much half of my life, and I always wanted to have a snake because I love snakes and I think they are amazing creatures. The only reason that held me back from buying one was because of the feeding process I didn't know how I would be able to handle killing something I spent so much of my life with. A few years back I did buy my first snake royal ball python. Sure at first the feeding's for me were hard to endure but I did it because I wanted my baby MY child, to not starve. Also it isn't as cruel as you are making it out to seem. The rat if you did some research actually doesn't feel much if anything at all only a few seconds than it is out. You are acting like the snake is ripping it limb from limb dissecting it when that is not how it goes down.

Sure snakes brains work solely on instinct alone. My snake doesn't care whether her food is alive or dead as long as she has something to eat each week. No I am not going to justify it by saying it's part of nature I mean it is part of nature maybe not in the same environment but the snake kills the rat to eat the snake kills the mouse to eat. Sure some get away but also there have been times where live feeder mice or rats have actually killed the snake instead of the snake killing them in a small feeding tank. So no it isn't impossible for the rat to not survive because there have been many cases on which the rat actually won during the feeding process.

I feed my snake because I love her because I care for her and I want her to live a very long time I don't do it out of enjoyment of something being killed. So no not every person who owns a snake and feeds their snake live or even dead prey do it out of enjoyment. Some of us just want and even know what is best for our snakes health for the survival of them. And you can't assume that everyone that owns a snake feeding it enjoys the process of feeding time. Some of us don't want to hear or even watch the process. We do it because that is what needs to be done in order to have our snake live. Sure it's sad some find it cruel, but at the end of the day when you own a snake it's what needs to be done whether you approve of it or not.

Us snake owners work very hard at keeping our snakes happy and healthy. We have to make sure the temperature is right for them the humidity is right we have to make sure their as less stressed out as possible during shedding time. We have to make sure their habitat is clean and mite free. Feeding by that point is a blip on the radar out of everything else we have to do to make sure our snake is healthy,happy,and comfortable.

And a lot of you may disagree but you know what, If you don't like the idea of feeding an animal to another. Then don't own one that eats other animals. Simple as that. But don't come bitching and complaining because you can't handle one thing about owning this type of animal. Don't own one everyone has the right to choose what type of pet they'd like to own, I chose mine. And not you, or anyone will take away my right to own my snake and do what I have to do in order for her to live.

Deon on January 08, 2019:

Here is the thing, it is natural (don’t get triggered for me saying that) to feed your animal live food, if it had no interest in frozen food, I whould not push it not the snake.

I had a pet tiger salamander, see if it whould want anything dead, only thing whould Be were pinkies but those were for my garter, and they were expensive, so my big boyo whould happily terrorize some crickets along with his other 14 salamander friends

Now the excuse I hear people in here saying like Lily’s comment right here

“So I'm wondering if you buy live mice, rabbits, and quail for your puppy dog and kitty cat to hunt down? I can guarantee the dog or kitty would gain more enrichment from a live prey than your snake.

Oh you don't? Huh...Not to mention, before they are strangled, they are being throttled by 6 rows of teeth the size of their own fingers. If you can imagine such a thing for yourself and still feel that is a peaceful death,now go educate you're self”

Crickets will not feel this, as by the time they whould feel it they whould he dead, and some people actually by live food for their dogs and cats, now their is some points that make sense as why they should not do that as domestic cats and dogs had evolved and adapted to eat pre-made foods like kibble, or wet watery shit in a can.

And cats are basically pests, so Instead of complaining how people are feeding their reptiles in a way the pets will be more comfortable by feeding them animals that will live around a quarter compared to the pets lifespan, and that they dispatch them quickly and don’t play with them and kill them slowly.

On the other hand, cats are invasive species, are around 2nd creature that causes worldwide extinctions (including the dodos, and recently multiple species in Australia) and people are retards and let em outside to damage the wildlife, meanwhile y’all are chill with that despite the fact that they play and slowly kill the prey animal.

(you whould not believe how much feral cats I almost punted while saving random animals around my house)

anon on January 06, 2019:

Harshness of Nature

I'd also want to add one last thing that I've been thinking of. And that's that despite that I agree with what you've said here that this is a cruel practice that should not be allowed, I would gently take issue with one point in particular and that's that where it comes to where you talk about the "admiration" of nature's "beauty" seeming to suggest almost that its more harsh, raw side should be something to not be appreciated and lumped together with the "beauty and wonder", but rather loathed and that failure to take such a suitably condemnatory attitude toward part of nature and to treat it all with awe and reverence thus evidences that one is an evil human being to be feared and shunned. I would challenge that just a soft bit, though perhaps maybe I understand what you're saying and what is implied by it wrongly, and if so feel free to disregard anything I have said that you do not believe fairly characterizes where you are coming from and please comment as to then what *is* where you are coming from, but nonetheless I'd still want to make the points that follow regardless as a matter then of pure commentary and not disagreement. This is because I do think that a complete attitude of harmony with nature has to include coming to appreciate all its aspects, even those that are more stark, raw, harsh, and not to simply judge them as an evil [which is what fostering an attitude of loathing does to an extent] as is often done in a western philosophic mindset ("natural evils", a concept which in my mind ironically only serves to feed into the notion of nature as thus ripe for exploitation and devaluation. After all, if nature is evil, then we can say any iniquity we commit against it is 'justice' for its evils, no? We feel much less compunction against committing evil against something which we perceive to be 'deserving' due to its own being evil, which is an ironic tragedy of human nature because all that that serves to do is multiply the amount of evil.).

*However*, that does *not* mean thrusting animals and their ferocity together within a tiny cage, so the stronger can devour the weaker, for your own "enjoyment", as being the morally proper way to go about gaining such an understanding or appreciation. To do that *is* an evil indeed, as a human action with humans' moral agency in place resulting in a pain with no necessity. Rather, if you want to *really* appreciate nature in all its aspects including its harsher ones, I'd say the best way by far is to learn to play the game. Learn how to survive and live in and experience nature as it is, in the world, in the wild. There's many places where these skills are taught. Of course, don't go out seeking cruelty either by then just using it as an excuse to harm animals in that nature unnecessarily e.g. predating [killing] animals yourself when you don't have to just for the sake of killing animals "'cuz 'nature'". Let nature be the master and show to you what it chooses to, or not to, on its terms. Let the moments of silence and absence, and invisibility, be as educational as those of presence and visibility. Learn from the world's traditional peoples who have or still do live more closely with nature. Learn to truly *participate* and the meaning of your place as part of nature and not apart therefrom. This is the fair and square way, too, because you stand your own risk. Your own meat is on the line when you choose to try your hand at survival in nature. Even if you only do it for a time. Moreover, with yourself also put out there, and the real feel of risk, I'd think that makes far, far more genuine and deep the "appreciation" gained. In fact, from this perspective that I've outlined here, what you're talking about in the article with live feeds is not only then seen as an act of cruelty, but also one of sheer *cowardice* when it comes to trying to excuse it as a way for learning or understanding anything, because you've actually given yourself both the maximum possible advantage *and* the animals (particularly the prey) the maximum possible disadvantage. And you know what is often thought of cowards, where that courage is at a premium? That they be better off fucking dead. This is cheap, so cheap that even a Zimbabwe dollar at the height of its economic woes would have been worth more than all the gold in Fort Knox in comparison.

anon on January 06, 2019:

Want to clarify some things about that last comment as I was but now I'm (I'm the same person as wrote the comment below) not as emotionally charged as I was when I first wrote it now as some of this post and also the debate on it struck a nerve with me and some of it involved some anger. Specifically in case someone freaks at the "antisocial" bit. I want to reiterate an emphasize that as said I do *not* agree with any form of violence or unjustifiable injury (i.e. effectively meaning anything but reasonable exceptional cases like self defense, and perhaps also hunting for meat though I'm still kind of .../... figuring out really where and what/how I should deal with it) delivered to a sentient being by humans. Nature's a different ball of wax but it's bound by a different rule book than us, and as said in this article, this is not nature per se, but what really amounts to a human intervention within such and thus the humans involved acquire moral culpability for their actions in question.

The point of the post was to challenge what I saw as subtle hypocrisies involving that in this zeal (which is justifiable) to oppose an act of cruelty, that other groups of humans who are also suffering injustices, like those with mental handicaps and issues, have been brought in and slammed and I think that it is not right to in the course of pursuing justice trammel over another group of beings that is not being treated justly either. Cruelty is, I believe, entirely a choice. It is the knowing choice between an option leads to greater pain and suffering of a sentient, versus an alternative which does not involve that or involve as much, and for no good reason (i.e. perhaps that the alternative, while causing less pain to the creature in concern causes far more to many others), choosing the option with more pain, especially if the goal is to derive satisfaction from the sight of seeing pain. If a mental disorder is involved in causing the presumed act, then mental treatment should be sought as a response, not so much retributive punishment (though of course reasoned measures to contain the offender for the purpose of protection of beings from their danger is entirely appropriate and justifiable), but I suspect in fact the considerale majority of those who do these things are not people with genuine mental disorders, "just" those indulging something a bit morbid within *human* nature and thus really ARE, indeed, cruel as can be - that is, this does not excuse the act, in fact, it both centers and maximizes the moral culpability therefor.

My final bit about proclaiming title to a bit of "antisocial" personality is because I see again that the viewing of this through the lense of mental disorders and to show some of the complexity involved here and again the fact of taking a tack which ends up slamming other groups (and mental disorders are real problems for the people that deal with them that deserve as much compassionate treatment as the animals in these situations do). I have not been diagnosed with an antisocial personality disorder nor do I think anything I would do or think would rise to the level of severity of the real thing, but what I'm pointing out is that at least in a certain rather specific and circumscribed sense one might be able to point to a commonality in that there would be a certain "thrill" for me in the thought, as I've never actually been in such situation so that is all it is, of rebelling against, and showing beautiful and glorious contempt for, societal authorities (thus the "anti-social" part) and norms, in a place when it seems to me that such are being thrust to conflict with the seemingly far more valuable notion of the life of a sentient being and the idea of wanting to stop its wanton torture at the hands of a truly evil human [e.g. trafficking, as in the example], and if one had all the other needed chips in place to make a truly caring life-centric attempt. And also, anger at the seeming hypocrisy of how uniformly we punish defiance of the dicta of authorities (namely that anything considered a criminal conviction, no matter the circumstances and nuances or contours thereof, is *uniformly*, not discerningly, treated with the same 50 lb hammer involving very severe lifelong and often retributively-justified penalties) when compared against the huge diversity of circumstances of what may lead to it, here in a case where someone may be acting in some way to try and *save* a life and then we put the fact of breaching a norm so much that we are going to punish them like they were the worst thing that ever happen to humankind (both with how we consider "criminals" as a simple-minded category and with the fact that "felon" is an un-nuanced "scarlet letter" for everyone who has it with no consideration or discernment whatsoever even decades after the facts with nothing else untoward done when it comes to jobs and in so extraordinarily many areas of the individual's life.). I hate seeing abstractions being put before things very real and precious like Life and the concern for not wanting a life to be taken or not wanting something to be tortured, to such an extraordinary extent that such undiscerning and reductive harshness would be applied when they come into situations of subtle conflict, esp. in light of conflict against ideas like that "silence in the face of evil is complicity" and the "worst thing is apathy" and also am kind of trying to see just how seriously and how far people may take such things or whether or not they end up with hypocrisies eventually. Again, calling out nuance in the other things that have been co-opted in a blanket and reductive way into this fight, namely now regarding "anti-social" impulses and disorders (though as said never have been diagnosed with and don't think could be, such, but just that rather there's this one specific one with me that could in theory be labeled similarly.).

I'd say the best thing to do here would have been to leave mental disorders and conditions out of it ("mental deficiency", "sociopathy", etc.) and just focus on the simple fact of this as cruel. Keep the focus tight and where it belongs. Nothing more or less needs to be said than that. Cruel is what it means. Cruelty is cruelty. Those who do the act in question in this thread are engaging in cruelty, such cruelty is not acceptable, it should not be made or permitted to continue. There is no need to invoke mental disorders and thus create yet more antagonism around them.

anon on January 06, 2019:

I find this a challenging piece. First off, I want to say I do not own any animals that require any sort of meat feedings, have no plans to, and have never live fed any animal either, nor would I do so in the future. So the part that matters - actual action - is off the table and thus this is totally an academic matter for me. The trick though is that it seems to highlight, when read and understood together and in combination with other things emphasizing other aspects like environmentalism, that the ethical contours of the "proper" human relationship to nature are very complex. I would think that because of this, however, disagreement should be expected and it would be wrong to say that all of those with a dissenting opinion must be suffering from a serious psychiatric disorder and thus that they are actually extremely dangerous individuals. You will need to independently study that scientifically (have you? If so, cite it) instead of conducting armchair psychology, which unless you are both a qualified psychiatrist with alphabet soup and have access to the individuals in question as patients and/or a research contract (see Goldwater Rule), you cannot do so reasonably. In addition, regardless of the ethics in the human-nature interaction that we are discussing here, do you think or are you suggesting that the nature itself is somehow "evil" because it contains these things? Would you say those who disagree with the validity or not of morally judging nature itself (as opposed to human choices related to when they and nature meet) or have differing opinions on it are also showing signs of being highly dangerous individuals (HDIs)?

One more thing. I would want to point out that I am to some extent what you might call a mentally deficient individual from a psychiatric standpoint. However, I have never committed nor intend to commit any sort of unjustifiable act of violence, thus why I have no intention of indulging in live feedings and in fact one of the things I hate very strongly is violence and attacks on lief unless it's very justified (e.g. violence for defense). I would say nature is amoral and so not fair to judge as "good/evil" *but* when humans and nature meet important moral questions arise as you have pointed out and moreover that humans' behavior should not be dictated simply by how nature operates because they are not simplistically bound to its norms and dictates. There are many behaviors that are natural but not acceptable for humans. Not just questions regarding handling of predators and prey but also things like rape and murder. There are many examples of animals of the same species who will fight to murder each other in a struggle in nature, but I believe humans should follow peace and I despise war. I say mentally deficient because I have been formally diagnosed with more than one psychiatric condition and while this is _not_ a diagnosis I consider myself just a little, little tiny bit of an antisocial personality (not clinically so) in that I generally and will openly admit in finding a very satisfying and very strong sense of joy or excitement/"thrill" in the prospect of and fantasizing about violating, and do not consider myself ethically very tightly bound to, social norms and laws for a "good" cause like rescuing an individual (human or animal) in danger in a manner that may not be legal if the situation is serious enough that they may die with no action taken and moreover the usual "proper" methods would not work (so there's a lot of complexities that would enter into making such decision in reality, like the possibility that resorting to free method would end up causing more harm to the individual etc. so it is extremely hypothetical in my mind, I'm just saying that with "all things just right", and in terms of fantasy, I find this deeply exciting) and otherwise flaunting rules that go against a higher sense of justice like imagining illegally running across a national border to get help to someone who was being targeted to be abused by a child trafficking gang (again I'd probably only even hypothetically do so if I had a ton of understanding of the situation in depth and possible harms). That said, I've never encountered in my life a real-life situation where I've had to put that notion to the test, and as you notice the situations are all in FAVOR of helping life and STOPPING cruelty, not in favor of INFLICTING cruelty and indeed part of the enjoyment in my mind is motivated by the sheer contrast of just how evil the cruelty is that one is seeking to stop and the stopping thereof because I think that the admonition against cruelty and wronging of life should be so highly regarded it should go above almost anything else and because I hate the idea there could be any valid excuse to be silent in the face of evil and tyranny. The enjoyment is sheerly about the society/norm/authority/expectation-defying aspect and that alone.

JD Miller on November 22, 2018:

Olphie you're just recycling the same old half baked arguments which have not already been addressed by the article but by the original posters responses to other knee jerk reactions.

By the way Melissa did you add that new bit at the end about it being justified even if the snake refuses dead prey, I wouldn't condone it in any circumstance. But I think it would be worth mentioning about tube feeding.

Olphie on November 09, 2018: your saying you care about the animal being killed, but not the one that would starve if it didn't eat? That's also cruelty. Some snakes, for example, don't take pre-killed food so the owner needs to feed them live food. If they didn't the snake would die. And you're saying you are fine with the snake dying but not the rodent. It's still animal cruelty. And actually, it is natural. Animals hunt and kill prey animals for food. Just because there is a cage makes no difference. i.e. The mouse could get out of a snake's cage somehow. You shouldn't just say it can't. What is the reason of saying this? Like I_Love_Snakes_And_Rodents said, there are better things to fight for. Like puppy mills, that's even crueler than feeding a mouse to a snake. Writing this won't really do anything to help stop it, it just makes a fool of yourself.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on October 09, 2018:

Update: Insanity Wolf / Potiphar S. Flagrum has been emailing and posting here with harassing comments (comments will not appear) for 7 weeks now. Just more evidence that ferret owners who feed live have mental deficiencies. Meanwhile, the article gains more popularity. Part two will address ferrets and those delusional owners specifically.

I_Love_Snakes_and_Rodents on September 20, 2018:

Excuse me author and others in the moments, you are just making a fool of your self. I understand that you guys are passionate about this, but calling each other out this, "sick" "sadist" "loser" "stupid" "idiot", isn't helping your case. @author if you feel strongly about it then do something to stop it, don't go after this issue by just throwing insult around. Also have you ever heard of Puppy mills, the cruelty of chicken and cows that are slaughter, before even seeing the sun. You better things to fight for.

Arif on September 15, 2018:

Listen. People eat meat in the U.S. all the time. I did y research and the way livestock and poultry is killed is very cruel. The pain a rodent gets when eaten by a sanke alive isn't that much more cruel that you eating a chicken parmesan. Both he chicken and rodent were cruelly killed. Unless you eat halal or kosher meat, which is killed in a humane quick way, you are honestly a hypocrite for even brining up the subject of feeding live prey.

Positron on September 08, 2018:

Honestly snakes, spiders, any kind of animal that requires a live feeding is fucked up and is not natural. It's not natural to stick a live creature into an enclosure and feed the stupid thing. In nature this happens but there is yet a fair chance for getting away or defense. So people who keep pets like this are fucked up in there heads. I had a ball Python for one month and I couldn't do it no more it's just cruel. That's like taking my ball Python and putting in an enclosure with an eagle, he doesn't have a chance.

Ella on August 29, 2018:

I feed live if I have to meaning my snake needs to eat and is refusing pre-killed. I also raise and euthanize my own feeder rodents because I like to know their history before I give them to my snakes. Death is painful regardless even with the co2 administered very slowly but obviously being squeezed to death is probably worse, though usually quicker in my experience. No need to risk harm to the snake with live prey or cause undue stress for the rat. Bottom line, if you have an animal you are responsible for feeding it and if it absolutely refuses to eat pre-killed then you cant starve it to death.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on August 28, 2018:

Jormae Of course you "love" it. Sounds like you enjoy harming animals.

Lily on August 28, 2018:

I always use frozen/thawed. I hate it when people try to justify live feeding by saying its "more natural". Because being fed in a plastic container lined with newspaper is "natural".All reptile owners are sickos

Jormae on August 26, 2018:

I love feeding live mice to my snake, what gives you the right to tell me I can't or I'm dumb for doing so?

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on August 22, 2018:

Insanity Wolf Found one of your comments on an OrthoChristianity site. Anyway, there's no difference between rats and so-called 'pet' rodents, although rats are too. Your comments will no longer be appearing here.

Insanity Wolf from Vukojebina on August 22, 2018:

Umm...with a name like "Potiphar" with my avatar, and my religious do you think I

Now Attila gets 2 gerbils

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on August 22, 2018:

Is this what Christians do? Try to harass people because they are desperate for attention and butt hurt that I called them out? 'Potiphar S. Flagrum', I'll give you that attention and quote you in my upcoming article about idiots that live feed to ferrets. I'll let you know when it's up.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on August 20, 2018:

Insanity Wolf Just as it is in your nature to be a loser with a domesticated pet who feeds helpless pinkie rats that can't fight back to feel 'cool'.

Mike on August 16, 2018:

People who say it's nature/cyrcle of life are dumbasses.

They allways say that on live feeding videos.

Every year they say that.

They deserve to be throwed in cage with lions.

These are the most stupid users who whrote this stupid excuse on youtube. they are a bunch of losers.

Lily on August 13, 2018:

To Joesph Johnson, So I'm wondering if you buy live mice, rabbits, and quail for your puppy dog and kitty cat to hunt down? I can guarantee the dog or kitty would gain more enrichment from a live prey than your snake.

Oh you don't? Huh...Not to mention, before they are strangled, they are being throttled by 6 rows of teeth the size of their own fingers. If you can imagine such a thing for yourself and still feel that is a peaceful death,now go educate you're self

Mike on August 11, 2018:

Wow i never realized how this article has toxic comments

Lily on August 09, 2018:

This channel named Howcast made a video how to feed a snake live food it's his fault cause he came with the idea of live feeding

Mohi on July 15, 2018:

Channel named Reptile Channel belongs to a person that goes by the name of jonah vore a sick individual that used to upload videos of his monitor lizards and snakes eating prey live of course with his human intervention, channel was shut down back in 2008/2009 and now its the called the reptile channel, Melissa A Smith this is a battle you cannot win unfortunately those voraphiles will come at you with everything to put u in place, there's another channel called (reptars rampage) i mean from the name alone we all know what that's about, i honestly feel extremely sorry for the rats and mice that go through this shit...And what really kills me are the people that laugh enjoy and want more of this shit.

ITS NOT nature, in nature those monitors and snakes have predators of their own to worry about and prey animals have a chance of escaping, SOOO lets say for example if i bought a monitor and threw it in my leopards cage and uploaded it to youtube i would have the entire reptilian community up my ass flagging my shit calling me a cruel person but when a rat goes in there its totally ok and its nature, double standards as always....there is no fucking justifying it, you people who defend live feeding have a thing for small animals being devoured by lizards n snakes its a it... vorarephilia

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 31, 2018:

Raptor not sure why furries would want to torture animals, and squirrels are dangerous prey for the animals being fed as well. That is overall idiocy.

Bidi on May 30, 2018:

Also Reptile Channel isn't educational cause that channel feeds live rodents

Meldy on April 30, 2018:

Well I think that you're being mean anyway by keeping them snakes in your cage against their will. Seriously. They want to eat live food, that's what they want and its natural. So stop and go somewhere else. Look I know nothing about snakes I have dog and two cats but look. You're doing nothing to help animals, they get killed anyway beforehand. The poor things die and they don't even choose how they die. My point is you're already being inhumane for them keeping them in terrariums. I know I'll get a lot of hate for this but I just had to say my opinion. You hate everyone that has different thinking from you. Not so humane, huh?

Victoria on April 20, 2018:

I seriously can't fathom how you would rather FORCIBLY SHOVE A DEAD MOUSE DOWN A SNAKE'S THROAT than just let it eat what it obviously wants.

I can all but guarantee that a snake will choose live over dead every single time.

I think this is more of a case of you forcing your beliefs onto poor creatures that you're keeping against their will.

I'm not saying it wouldn't make me sad to watch, but why reinvent the wheel?

I'm certainly not going to lock up my cat so he doesn't hunt the mice in my house.

Feeding him live prey has a direct effect on his mood. He is noticeably happier to eat crickets and catch mice. It is night and day. He is no longer moping around the house, or getting into trouble. He's fulfilled, because he's fulfilled his natural instincts.

Please stop shoving things down snakes' throats.

Jason on February 26, 2018:

uhmm. i just want to express how i feel about this article. i agree feeding live prey items is cruel, as it is painful. i think feeding live is a bit healthier to a reptile (snakes in particular) but still it's cruel. I agree with it. Even though i feed mine live, as for now, i feel bad for it and it stresses me out because of my conscience. feeding dead prey for me is still a bit cruel, as what i believe. but this would be less cruel, if so, than feeding live. what i believe is that there's no such thing as "not cruel" in all feeding methods, or let's say maybe there is no such thing as "not sinful" in feeding as we still kill these prey items(cruel or not) for these purposes - either we gas them, freeze, or directly place it alive in the snake's enclosure. feeding pets depends on us as keepers/owners.. so generally speaking, feeding live prey is cruel but feeding them either live or not is both sinful. so let nature do the thing. i think captive keeping (is my term correct?) must not be done in the first place. leave what is in the wild.

well to think of it in shallow, feeding live is very natural. but let's see what's behind. it is not natural for a prey to be trapped in a cage or a cage itself doesnt exist in the wild as the prey can still escape if in nature. for me, maybe it is unnatural for a predator to easily find and catch a prey (they can easily eat if someone or something offers regularly which is not in the wild). as long as we keep them as PETS, everything's out -everything's unnatural.

uhmm not an argument, just my opinion.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on January 20, 2018:

Selah there is NO WAY it takes 30 minutes to kill rodents with CO2 or worst case scenario they will be rendered unconscious if it is done in an approved way. This method is approved by the AVMA. If this person has footage of inhumane treatment it should be turned over to authorities, not shown to random people.

Selah on January 19, 2018:

Here's my problem with frozen feeding- it's incredibly inhumane. I have snakes, frogs, hamsters, a cat, and hopefully more some day. I fed frozen for a while, thinking it was the kind thing to do. However, when I adopted my 3rd snake from a local reptile rehabilitation shop, I got to talking to the owner who breeds rats in a lovely enclosure to feed. She showed me a video she took, from her time working in a place that commercially bred and froze mice. To say it was horrific was an understatement. Their conditions where deplorable, they had to walk over each other and other dead rats in small, disgusting cages if they could move at all. They were dumped in big batches, blasted for about 30 seconds with CO2 which appeared to kill them, but in reality just immobilized them and they were struggling to move throughout the duration of the video. The freezing process then began, first their ears and tails frosted up, you could see them trying to move and the pain was evident. It took about 30 minutes to upwards of an hour for the process to be completed. Absolutely terrible. When my snake feeds, she kills in about 3-5 seconds. The rat more often than not walks right up to her face, there is no fear or pain involved. I would not feel comfortable killing the rat myself, and the same woman advised against it because it is very easy to do incorrectly and cause massive amounts of pain before death. Feeding live, in my opinion, will always be the most humane way I can feed the snakes I have grown to love and care for.In fact, they used to toy with their dead food, leaving a mess and eating it piece by piece. But with live it is always swift and clean, I truly believe there is a level of empathy in them as well.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on January 11, 2018:

Drifter: Damn right

Tiny on January 02, 2018:

Hiya, I own reptiles myself and so does my partner. Most of our reptiles are carnivorous and therefore we feed them accordingly. I understand that some might think live feeding is barbaric. In all honesty what's the difference of a mouse being humanly killed and fed to another animal in the first place? Most feeder mice have been bred out of their instinctive way to sense predators just to be fed to them. Ball pythons- more often than not, can not consume live prey because sometimes the prey will chew holes through the snakes body. That would be one good reason not to feed live prey. Most other times many reptiles will even reject frozen-thawed prey and will have to be given live prey as a last resort. So yes, I think you're article is pointless to say the least but I respect your opinion. Just don't go calling other people's opinions "stupid", it makes you look very unconvincing.

JD on October 14, 2017:

Great article, especially taking into account that you own snakes yourself.

It's funny how these knee jerk reaction responses presume you are a militant vegan just because they don't want to confront the fact that they are zoo sadists. What is especially ridiculous is how these people anthropomorphise their snakes and project human like emotions onto them but then talk about rats as if they were oysters, alive but conscious even though all these 'feeder' animals are obviously far more intelligent than snakes.

Robert on October 14, 2017:

All I'm going to say is...if you have a problem with feeding your snake, you probably shouldn't own one. Who cares how the rodent dies, because either way someone or something killed it to be consumed.

Drifter on August 19, 2017:

Agreed 100%.

Fully aware of the cruelty of reality. So I call it as it is. Lots of psychos with reptiles and we know the truth of why they own them. Sickos.

Even read a bullshit thread today espousing the same old flawed rhetoric you called them out for and by the end of the thread some were blatantly admitting their sickness, while the others made no attempt to counter those sentiments.

They're transparent and still think they've fooled people when they're just lying to themselves.

Sociopaths, the lot of them.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 18, 2017:

Jon Honeycutt: chimpanzees, tigers, wolves, macaws, and panther chameleons are all examples of animals that can live longer in captivity. What does your ignorance have to do with this article?

Carly H on May 16, 2017:

This is something I was thinking about today and I understand where you are coming from. I would never feed a live animal to another larger predator if that predator didn't need it. Feeding your house pet a live animal for fun is an example of senseless violence. But then there's the times when it's necessary. I tried for months to get my 3 yr old BP to take frozen, I moved the mouse and tried variation upon variation to get my already underweight snake to eat. I feed her live mice, I don't enjoy doing it, but it's either that or she starves. She kills within minutes, it's quick, and she needs to eat. I'm not going to stress her out by making her into something she's not. Live feeding for no other reason besides entertainment is wrong, but I've got no other choice here. So, don't paint everything in black and white, at times there are situations where there is no other option.

GalaxyRat on May 01, 2017:

Rats won't and cannot eat everything. My rats cannot eat certain items or they can die, as with most... I give them grass, if you consider that live food. ;)

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 01, 2017:

Rats will eat anything. They don't need live food.

GalaxyRat on April 29, 2017:

My Rat Scabbers is an efficient predator... but this is what my brothers do, not me. They'll take Scabbers and set him in front of an insect that is almost dead. Scabbers will pounce, then bite the head off (or legs, if he can't get the head). The insect always dies... My other pets aren't interested in the hunting thing, so I'm thinking of feeding Scabbers already dead mealworms and attach them to strings.

I am against the live feeding, however.

Melissa, I think the feeding of live animals to PETS is wrong. Just think, what I felt that animal was your pet and your other one was eating it??? Who cares if your pet needs to develop survival skills... it's wrong! I agree with this post.


Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 10, 2017:

Rando1ph: I have no choice but to conclude that you are an idiot if you think any part of this article is anti-meat feeding. Read it with your brain turned on.

Rando1ph on March 10, 2017:

Nature doesn't care what you think. Nature is impartial and relentless. You can white knight all you want and carnivores are still going to eat other animals. Nature doesn't need us and it doesn't care if you, me, or that mouse lives or dies. The snake is higher on the food chain, let it live there.

You can call people that don't agree with you names like "depraved individuals." It doesn't make your opinion reality.

What it boils down to is you have a bleeding heart and think everyone that doesn't have one is somehow emotionally disfigured.

Not all that long ago (100 years or so) and still in less developed countries people go out in their yard and kill there supper before they eat it. And are thankful to have it. This is a first world problem brought on by convenience.

I'm sure I am biased because I grew up in the country around farms. I hunted a lot when I was young. I now work in industrial supply and closely with several rendering plants. So the circle of life has been right in front of me my entire life.

I'm sure the shock you felt when you realized your meat wasn't grown at a supermarket was tragic.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on February 25, 2017:

"Do you want to know biggest reason we feed him live food? In case he escapes somehow, I would rather him be accustomed to hunting and killing on his own terms of survival. If a snake that was manipulated by a human into eating pre-killed food escapes into the wild, he will probably fail at sustaining himself and starve to death."

Probably the silliest thing about your post. I see you are beyond help.

Lyhue on February 25, 2017:

Melissa, I am a reptile owner and caretaker. My girlfriend is also an animal lover that specialised in keeping snakes many more years than I have.

That being said, our Ball Python "Monty" rejected frozen pre-killed mice time after time. Rather than starve the fella, we turned to live feeders and instantly his natural instinct to hunt and devour the live prey kicked back into gear. He is very very happy and social to human touch, and we have no moral qualms with giving him the live mice. Its how nature designed him to receive nutrition.

Keeping him in a closed habitat may not be natural but we humans are on top of the ladder (food chain) and since recorded time began we've kept animal companions in closed environs.

I simply don't understand your angle that live feeding rodents to snakes is cruel. The animal kingdom, not just his species, is rife with predators that have been and will continue to attack-kill-devour their prey for millions of years.

In fact many of us feel that manipulating a serpent into eating pre-killed food is quite unnatural.

God or nature, your choice, didn't create ball pythons to scavenge dead meat.

Anyone who reads this article can see you are making an argument based on your personal code of ethics and morals.

I'd much rather let our sweet, gentle cold-blooded killing machine (Monty)work his own magic than risk getting myself bitten by the mouse while i try to kill it for a snake. That simply makes no sense.

Do you want to know biggest reason we feed him live food? In case he escapes somehow, I would rather him be accustomed to hunting and killing on his own terms of survival. If a snake that was manipulated by a human into eating pre-killed food escapes into the wild, he will probably fail at sustaining himself and starve to death.

Now That is the definition of cruelty.

Altering an animal's natural eating habits is quite disturbing to be quite honest.

Cats hunt live prey naturally but scavenge when times are desperate. Dogs mostly scavenge naturally but hunt when starving

Snakes... they hunt living prey or they succumb to a long painful death that is far more viscous than a mouse being squeezed into having cardiac arrest within seconds.

Mice are not very high on the food chain in fact they are near bottom as far as vertebrates are concerned. No moral quest can change that Melissa.

My own thoughts? Gassing mice is simply ridiculous. Placing them in a sock and dashing them against a hard surface would probably be painless in comparison to a gassy suffocation.

And yes i tried that method with Monty. It failed. And i have no interest in trying again.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on April 02, 2015:

Jane, pet keeping is NOT nature. Thousands of years ago no one had the luxury of keeping these types of pets for simple pleasure. None of what you say is any type of adequate rebuttal. Your comment is rationally-challenged.

Jane on April 02, 2015:

Your thinking is wrong. I agree that some live feedings are sad but nature its self is cruel. You should've been born thousands of years ago when times were much harder. Then you wouldn't be saying all kinds of nonsense like "its animal cruelty because the animals don't have any chance of escape like they do in the wild." Some animals are used as pets for human entertainment. And some of those animals need to eat like they would in the wild because its natural. Stop being a negitive Nancy and go on with your life. Stand up for something that is of worth. Like racism or world hunger. Not this waste of time.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 10, 2015:

You're not too bright bob.

bob on March 10, 2015:

live feeds are more natural then drowning the mouse myself.... i don't care if there is a wall in the cage and not in nature... did u stop to think there is no cO2 tank in nature... there is no hand of god killing this mouse and feeding it to a reptile... hunter and hunted... that's is it. granted it is still supplied by my hand in a cage... but isn't that the point of habitat? to be as natural as POSSIBLE? why is it any better for someone to drown a mouse with co2 then what happens in the wild? blood can b spilled? go hug a tree and kiss a bee. you mouse murderer... god only a sick mind would think killing a mouse with your own hands is better then letting nature take its course... i step on insects every chance i get... i call it enviromentally friendly pesticide

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on January 14, 2015:

Honor Scholtes-- I was in a similar situation with a pied ball python. The seller told me it ate frozen too, and I believe that was just to get a sale. Mine didn't eat for far, far, longer than a month...

I would start with small, furred, *warmed* prey. If the snake is a baby, use a small furred mouse (hopper). If the prey isn't warm, forget it. let it sit under a heat lamp (but not too long, or the stomach will leach the snakes hate that). If you feel that the snake needs nourishment NOW you can assist feed critical care carnivore (or you can use a very small mouse, hold the sides of the snake's jaw to open the mouth and push the rodent in, then gently put it down and immediately but delicately place a pillow case over it and leave it alone). This is very stressful so be very efficient and keep it short, then let the snake rest in a dark area (if you have a cheap plastic hide, put a pillow case in so it has the option of hiding in there) and leave it alone for a week, then try again.

Remember that I'm not against the 'circle of life', I'm against the suffering. Feed you and yourself meat, but dispatch animals humanely. Nature is cruel. Snakes die all the time for various reasons with no one to assist them.

Honor Scholtes on January 13, 2015:

I hate the idea of feeding live mice/rats. My to older snakes both take F/T though the male has been off for a few months, he is big though. My new female pied is just a little girl though. Only 140 grams, she didn't eat for nearly a month after we bought her and I offered her quite a few rat pups. We had bought her from I guy who said she ate F/T, however when we called him back he said no she had been eating live. I wanted to wait and try her with more F/T, but she wouldn't eat even though I tried every trick I could find. My dad talked to an experienced breeder who confirmed that if she didn't eat soon her health would begin to deteriorate. So she sadly had to get a live mouse and may have to have another as I try to convert her. So sometimes it is necessary, circle of life, I mean I would rather not let my snake starve, trapped in a bin where in the wild she would be able to go and get her own food.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on November 06, 2014:

This is why I'm a lone wolf. I have problems with nearly every 'community'. The reptile community has a very sadistic attitude toward rodents, which are much more likely to be far more 'intelligent' than their pets. There are bans against live feeding in some European countries but I doubt it can happen here.

ZookeeperByNature on November 05, 2014:

Is there a possible way to get legislation enacted which cover what you discuss here in this article? As an active member of many reptile and exotic pet-centric groups on Facebook, it disheartens me to see the outrageous amounts of animals being inhumanely fed off without proper justification, and the invalid excuses people to use to defend themselves for committing apparently legal acts of animal cruelty. Furthermore, the people who typically do such things are disgustingly sadistic themselves, many openly agreeing that they would use cats or dogs if they could get away with it and how they hostile they will behave if anyone dares to speak out against them, regardless of how polite a response was. Many fail to realize it's not about being offended - I'm personally rather desensitized to the images and videos themselves - but about the responsible and actual proper treatment of the animals.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on October 15, 2014:

No banana, it has to do with the victim being a species we are used to seeing as prey for a specific animal. People will turn away to the predation of cats all the time, even cute baby rabbits, because they are, how can I put this simply? Brainwashed. Cat people are some of the most mentally perplexing (putting that nicely) people you will ever deal with. This is not a generalization. You can't make them feel sorry for what a cat kills, but if a CENTIPEDE kills that same prey, most people are not use to a bug killing vertebrates and most people also hate centipedes or are afraid of them (I think they are the cutest animals ever). Feeding rodents to centipedes is not only radically unnecessary but it must be very painful. Humans that get bitten from these animals describe it as one of the most painful events of their lives. It is cruel to do this to a mouse, or sadistic, period. I would support efforts to make it illegal in a heart beat, but I guess most people are just focused on making sure great owners can't own exotics, that is their priority.

Feeding live vertebrates to animals is an inhumane way to kill them. I believe it is animal cruelty so I will "judge" this decision.

Banana on October 15, 2014:

Just wanna say something about how no one cares about some herps or carnivorous pet fish eating live feeder fish while they suddenly become so protective about live feeding mouse.

I mean, I would never do it. I love animals and I could never look into a mouse's eyes and throw to a python for it to eat the mouse. But I understand why people use live feeders and I don't judge what they do. It their choice to make, not mine, and I don't have the right to prevent one from doing it (unless its something absolutely needs to be stopped). Even though I feel kinda sad for the prey animal, I don't feel so terrible or anything (unless the person is laughing about how stupid the rat is and is clearly enjoying the feeding sadistically) by watching one of those live feeding vids.

Disturbing thing is that I would have no problem feeding live feeder crickets/worms to a rough green snake and live feeder fish to a garter snake. No one really screams how cruel it is to feed live fish to a garter snake in the YT comment section at all. Also, I've seen a centipede feed on a live hamster and everyone screamed their head off how cruel and psychotic he truly is to feed such an adorable and helpless hamster to some creepy and unintelligent creatures like centipedes. Other video showed a centipede eating an anole and mostly people were like "Ewww gross","Lol its eyes rolled out", "that's disgusting :P". Another vid showed a cat eating a live mouse, and few were like, "Poor mouse!", some were like, "Cute cat omg", while others were some derpy comments. So I think it really depends on which animals is eating and which is getting eaten to people (most, but not you ). As long as it is a cute and cuddly, it's terrible and horrifying to feed it to any kinds of animals.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on September 25, 2014:

What do I think? I think it's painful and cruel and I'm glad we have better ways to dispatch animals. Snakes need to eat live prey about as much as you do. Your comment is one of the dumbest I've seen here.

Martine on September 25, 2014:

You are insane. So what do you think of animals killing other animals and eating them live, like almost all predator animals do? NOT feeding snakes live prey is animal cruelty. that's what they would eat if they were free. Expecting a childish level of niceness from the world is sick. You need a psychiatrist.

Becki Rizzuti from Indiana, USA on August 24, 2014:

It's been four weeks since Anthony posted the comment above, but I hope you don't mind me adding something, Melissa.

Feeder rodents (and larger creatures as well) pose a threat to the well-kept captive reptile, mammal, or potentially bird. They have claws and teeth, and they will fight for their lives. If you are concerned about the health of your animal, live feeding is a mistake, regardless of your consideration for the well-being of the feeder animals.

I've personally seen reptiles that were beaten up by their prey. It's terrible to look at those wounds.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on July 26, 2014:

Anthony, your pitifully stupid comment is unfortunately representative of the pro-live feeding brigade.

Anthony on July 26, 2014:

i wish i could post a video of my ball python chewing on a live mouses face just to have you gag and foam at the mouth. you're self righteous and delusional. live feeding it happens in nature. stop over analyzing the situation! food will be food. as smart as we all like to think we are - there are animals out there that will snatch us up for lunch without thinking twice about whether or not we will suffer. just because we're humans does not mean were morally obliged to keep the peace in animal on animal feeding. in fact, the world doesn't owe anyone a sense of morality. take that home with you Melissa. You're no one to tell us how we should feed our own animals.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on July 07, 2014:

Are you trying to tell me that there's no science involved with morality? Well DUH. I don't actually expect to convince anyone hard-wired to carry on with their ways to change their mind, I just want to shut them down and make them aware that their beliefs are ridiculous. They deserve to get mad, that is a result of cognitive dissonance. Some people flat out don't mind being cruel to animals, others have deluded themselves into thinking it is somehow not cruel to prolong suffering. I'm mainly addressing those people, not the cretins that enjoy cruelty. Unfortunately, nothing can be done about them. Don't pretend that you never express your strongly held beliefs to just did it to me. So it's nice that you can see the futility of advocating for a moral perspective when it is convenient for you.

If convenience and fear or harm to your snake are more important to you than treating the prey humanely, you might be in the same camp with the group I'm addressing. It is sickening that you consider your snake's welfare and not the prey, which is likely far more intelligent. I guess I should be happy that you don't torture rodents because it's 'easier'.

midnightsky on July 07, 2014:

None of the reasons I feed prekilled prey to my snake are actually in here. You might find that less emotional arguments have a better impact:

- Snakes can be harmed by live prey. Rodents have sharp teeth and can wound your snake, so you keep it safer by providing prekilled prey.

- Live prey can carry disease; the freezing process and length of time frozen for prekilled prey is usually enough to destroy harmful bacteria in the prey that might make a snake ill.

- Prekilled is easier. Live prey requires feeding and care of its own, and rodent cages will take up more space, resources, time, and money than snake owners may want to support. Both breeding live prey yourself and constantly buying new feeder prey takes time and resources. On the other hand, you can buy prekilled prey in batches that will keep in a freezer.

All of this is why I feed prekilled prey. With regards to your more emotional arguments, anything I would say has already been answered in a way that I still do not consider logically satisfying; it all boils down to certain "moral truths" that some people accept and some people do not. "It is cruel to allow animals to hunt live prey when they do not have to" is a belief, not a scientific fact, and it really can't be debated without attempting to convince someone to accept your morals. In the end, if they choose not to, there's really nothing you can do, because you can't logically convince someone to have or not have certain beliefs about what is right or wrong. It's just something people decide for themselves. Proselytizing, whether for a religion or not, doesn't work so well in the long term, and it annoys the crap out of people most of the time. Inform people and move on; passionate emotional arguments don't really fly. Those are why nobody likes PETA.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on July 05, 2014:

Nothing will change their minds, I suggest not giving them anymore views.

rob on July 05, 2014:

Did you watch the video it's on YouTube I commented to the author of the video he said it was OK it's not OK would you please watch it and see what you think.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on July 04, 2014:

No rob, such a video would be illegal in some areas in Europe, and I believe that is needed here.

rob on July 04, 2014:

Yes I am disturbed by a video on YouTube showing somebody feeding live helpless newborn baby rabbit's to a Savannah water monitor. My question is can this be reported as animal cruelty??

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 14, 2014:

No problem Johnny.

Johnny on June 13, 2014:

Wow. You've really opened my eyes to the reality of live animal feeding. it truly is a horrible thing how accepting it is and this just proves that we have a lot of evolving to do. Thank you Melissa. ^^

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on June 04, 2014:

Can you show me what you're talking about? I've visited her site many times and have never seen that. Is this a recent change of thinking for her? I think her website is older, and that might account for some 'inaccurate' information. I don't think PETA would be pleased over her website which teaches people how to maintain exotic animals in a trade that they think should not exist, so if that's PETA thinking, maybe it's not as bad as I thought it was. If her views are not present in the website, I don't see why I shouldn't reference it. The live feeding page is very well done.

ZookeeperByNature on June 03, 2014:

In my attempt to spread this sort of word among the reptile community including by re-posting this very article, aside from being scrutinized as some sort of disgrace for disagreeing with their "preference", it was brought to my attention by reputable members of the herp community that Melissa Kaplan (who you referenced as a "Reputable source") is a non-credible source and a small amount of investigative work myself has revealed that her personal views are very much in line with animal rights groups such as PETA. Furthermore, many have noted the partial amount of inaccurate information she has given out and that, many of the times she has expressed her personal views, they are sometimes charged with an obvious anti-pet stigma. While I very much agree with your views, and disagree with the views of the some that pointed this out, I recommend that it would be best if Melissa Kaplan was removed as a reference as she is, in fact, a non-credible credible source and many will not take this article seriously because of this alone.

In the mean time, Melissa Kaplan aside, I do agree with this article. It saddens me the disregard for animal life many a self proclaimed "animal lover" will have for the life of the animals being used to feed their pets. Those that argue this stance will blindly accuse the other party of being completely for animal rights and that they must not support animals being used as food at all, but this is simply not the case. It is not about completely banning the usage of animals for what ever intentional service they are to serve, it is to reduce their suffering as much as we possibly can. And to those that argue Co2 gassing is inhumane, there are other options on the table as well, for example, such as cervical dislocation. It is not necessary to ignorantly forgo these other alternatives, and continue to inhumanely feed off feeder animals while alive where they are faced with a painful and cruel death.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on May 04, 2014:

Nice try Bryce, there is no acceptable way to perpetuate genocide and mass murder thousands of people. Would it have been better for the victims of the holocaust to be thrown to giant snakes? Does that sound less evil? The human comparison flounders no matter what way you look at it. You sound like a young person. Sane people don't care about how 'epic' it is to die, they care about pain and suffering. Adult ball pythons should have rats. You CAN feed mice but it is not optimal. A normal-sized adult will have to eat many mice when they should just have one prey item.

Bryce on May 03, 2014:

Also your argument that ball pythons will need adult rats when they are grown is invalid because I know a licensed animal behaviorist with many animals who only feeds mice to his adult ball python be it they r frozen but it's all the same for this point and most bps will never be big enough to eat an adult rat could they swallow one yes is it good for them probably not on a regular basis. Most bps will eat small or medium rats which definitely not full grown

Bryce on May 03, 2014:

I would never kill a rodent without good reason (feeding a snake for example), but my snake hasn't eaten in 4 months because he refuses frozen for some reason now I threw a live mouse in today and he instantly turned on. The mouse lived though cause I removed him anyway. I am pretty neutral on the subject and I was wondering how you can say that gassing is humane I mean that's what happened in the holocaust and I don't think that was very painless. Honestly I'd rather die by a snake than being gassed seems more epic to go out like that and if you think about it it's the same thing almost except one is done by a living thing both are suffocated and both ways kill relatively quickly. I can vouch for snakes being quick with their kill as my frien feeds exclusively live and even on a rat a little too big for him his bp kills it or at least knock it out within 10-20 seconds sometimes faster depending on the hold

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on March 22, 2014:

"Theass", your pseudo-intellectual comment is no argument for live feeding because I never said I'm trying to 'end all suffering', just the suffering which is in my control, because it is MY decision to bring animals into my home. So I definitely "despise your assertion" that we should ignore all suffering and anyone else who thinks so idiotically. Recognize that.

theass on March 22, 2014:

Cruelty is an integral part of the natural world in which we live.

To try to end its existence is as futile as denying your own propensity for it.

When confronted with the proper stimulus and justification you yourself would gleefully commit, or at least cheer for others as the commit acts of cruelty.

You will not recognize this fact. You will despise my assertion and myself by extension.

Forget this observation and continue to rage against nature, it is part of what makes you human.

Melissa A Smith (author) from New York on February 19, 2014:

Thanks for that Shaddie, I have also gotten animals to eat non-live things by attaching clear thread to one of the bug's appendages.