Justification.............

Captive care and husbandry discussions.

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jayder85
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Justification.............

Post by jayder85 » February 24th, 2014, 12:55 pm

This isn't a thread intended to start an argument. I just wanted to get thoughts and opinions.

I have been a long time herp keeper. Some have been wild caught over the years while others have been bred and born in captivity. I see time and time again on various forums and Facebook the prospect of collecting feeder animals. Toads for Hognose Snakes, Skinks for stubborn Scarlet King Snakes, etc. What is the justification of feeding herps to our herps? What is the justification for collecting all of the toads that we can to feed our Hognose Snake? All of the Amphiumas, Sirens and Salamanders to feed our Farancia? Just because I enjoy keeping snakes, I can't override the fact that I enjoy and appreciate all herps. As common as they may be, collecting various animals to feed captive animals doesn't help the local populations. And those sites that we guard with our lives to prevent people from collecting that Milk Snake or Pine Snake. Yet we don't mind to catch those Ringneck Snakes and Worm Snakes to feed that "snake feeder only" Lampropeltis that we have. To me, if an animal cannot be maintained on a captive diet, it shouldn't be maintained in our personal collection just because we like that particular animal.

Like stated above, this isn't intended to start a fight. I just want other folks imput and thoughts. Do you agree with collecting herps to keep other herps? Why or why not?

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Re: Justification.............

Post by chris_mcmartin » February 24th, 2014, 1:26 pm

I have kept a baby kingsnake in the past which I got started feeding by feeding anoles and geckos. It doesn't mean I was happy about it, and I got it switched to pinkies as soon as I could. At least I could rationalize somewhat by using exotic Mediterranean geckos, but I still didn't enjoy feeding a species which I had kept as a pet to another species (no, I don't mean I fed my pet to my other pet!). I've also kept some lizard-eating lizards, which I fed anoles after they quit eating pinkies for some reason. Also wasn't my favorite thing.

Basically, we tend to value one species over another--i.e. some people likes snakes, and like mice, and have trouble feeding a mouse--live or dead--to a snake. I don't think I have a moral high ground by keeping herps which don't eat other herps, because I'm just selecting an animal which happens to eat a different animal.

I agree that it would be nice if the food sources were sustainable beyond just heading to the nearest creek or meadow to get toads/snakes/skinks. I've heard of some people selling (live or frozen) invasive brown anoles to satisfy the need, which is a little easier to rationalize using my example above.

One other way to make feeding herps to other herps a little easier to stomach is if not much is known about captive husbandry for the species in question, and the keeper takes lots of notes and contributes to the body of knowledge.

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jayder85
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Re: Justification.............

Post by jayder85 » February 24th, 2014, 3:52 pm

chris_mcmartin wrote: One other way to make feeding herps to other herps a little easier to stomach is if not much is known about captive husbandry for the species in question, and the keeper takes lots of notes and contributes to the body of knowledge.
I have no issue about this at all. So much has been learned about new species by doing this and many of these species are now able to be kept on conventional rodent diets.

The thing about rodents though is that they can be propagated in captivity which is something that can't be said for feeder herps.

Basically, this all stems from posts that I have seen on Facebook of people advertising catching "feeder snakes" and others asking for supplies of "feeder toads". I know of individuals that will collect as many American and Fowlers Toads as possible to feed their Eastern Hognose collection and I just can't get behind that. There are other subs of Hogs that do well on a rodent diet and even Easterns can with some work. I have an adult Eastern Hog right now that feeds on a rat bi-weekly.

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Re: Justification.............

Post by Kfen » February 24th, 2014, 4:56 pm

jayder85 wrote:
The thing about rodents though is that they can be propagated in captivity which is something that can't be said for feeder herps.
That isn't entirely true. Feeder herps aren't propagated because it is not profitable. If you could breed anoles, treefrogs, etc .and sell them for the same price as wild caught versions, I'm sure people would buy yours first. Rodents, chicks, and insects are prolific and cheap to raise, herps are not.

Like Chris said, people value some animals over others. It seems as though you value herps over mammals. Some people value mammals over herps and probably wouldn't have a problem feeding herps to them. And still others value some herps over others, therefore feeding "lesser" herps to "better" herps. That last sentence could also read "more common" herps to "less common", or "more interesting to them" to "less interesting", etc.

Chris used a good word- sustainable. I have no problem feeding any ecologically sustainable animal to another if it is (or similar to) part of their natural diet.

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Re: Justification.............

Post by pahothand » February 24th, 2014, 5:09 pm

Having only ever owned one hero eating hero. An Eastern Hognose snake I got him as a sub adult in April of the 2011 and it took the better part of the year to get him switched over to mice I still have toads in the freezer somewhere that I kept to scent the hoppers with. But I never felt bad about feeding him toads. They were plentiful here then and they are plentiful here now.

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Re: Justification.............

Post by gbin » February 24th, 2014, 5:25 pm

I have no problem whatsoever with folks feeding herps to other herps that require/desire such prey, nor with folks collecting their own/buying feeder herps so long as it is done within the law and with regard for the animals and habitat involved. And it would be virtually impossible to persuade me to believe that wild populations are being harmed in the slightest by herp collection for this purpose.

If the argument against herp prey in favor of rodent prey involves valuing reptiles over mammals, then I'd say that you should by all means enjoy your personal biases just as much as you wish but you should also try to keep them to yourself rather than judge others based upon them. If it involves what you believe to be some meaningful difference between captive-reared and wild-caught prey then you'll need to lay that out for me; as I said, the idea that wild populations are being harmed by folks collecting feeders for their or others' animals doesn't do it for me at all, as it's not at all meaningful.

(Before this evolves into yet another FHF debate about wildlife population biology, please be advised that I have both formal education and professional experience in this subject, and no longer have much patience for trying to explain it in this venue to people who have done little or no study of it themselves. It's nothing personal, but I've "been there, done that" - ad nauseam. If the subject is new to you, you can start by searching FHF for past discussions of it, as there are many.)

Don't get me wrong, I applaud your thoughtful, concerned approach to animal keeping. From what I can tell so far, though, in this particular instance it looks to have taken you in a wrong direction. And I hate to see good people waste their time and energy on erroneous notions.

Gerry

P.S. In the interest of full disclosure: I no longer keep herps, but back when I did I was just about as likely to have a herp-eater as a mammal-eater in my collection.

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Re: Justification.............

Post by sjfriend » February 24th, 2014, 9:46 pm

Not a fan of feeding herps to herps BUT if that is what they do, that's what they do. I no longer have herps but I did have some in the past that for one reason or another would be fed a herp when necessary. I did try captive or roadkill when I could to make it easier for myself. My job was to maintain my herps at the best level possible and I would do what ever it took to do it.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Justification.............

Post by Kelly Mc » February 24th, 2014, 10:09 pm

Its not impossible to habituate specialized feeders to accept cultured food items. One positive in not using wildlife is you are not restricted by locale, season, or changing laws. A negative is that there may be some herps that will be eating one type of food animal (ie; Rodents) that may not be the healthiest long term.

Zoos devise composite diets for a myriad of phyla, ie; the prey in the baobab tree may be unacquire-able, but those life forms can be broken down nutritionally, and presentation finessed for acceptance.

I have known alot of raptor keepers, rehab, museum, zoo, and falconers (for some odd reason, roommate, co workers, and friends, one Ive known since '82) I like their formalized practices regarding the feeding of carnivore in captivity. At least the ones I know. I realize its different (ah yes we are so very unique...) But there is a tone of conduct I happen to like, and like you Jayder I find it a vague distaste to use wildlife for captive animals. I dont feel the need to defend it, nor tell others they shouldnt.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Justification.............

Post by Kelly Mc » February 25th, 2014, 12:32 am

like the condition of the kitchen or bathroom of a restaraunt the regard and practices of how any feeder animal types are handled is one of the ways that defines the moral cleanliness and skills of a hobby/entity imo.

Especially today, instead of insisting on insular exemption of professional animal use practices it might be to our benefit as keepers to review basic AWA, and AVA guidelines and see how we align our methods with these standards. At least familiarize ourselves with them.

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Re: Justification.............

Post by Tamara D. McConnell » February 25th, 2014, 4:23 am

I appreciate you introducing this topic, Jayder85. It is something I have pondered, and I have wondered how other herp keepers think.
I've kept hognoses, and it just disturbs the heck out of me to feed them toads. Toads are abundant here, but it still bothers me. I like toads. I don't keep hogs anymore because I just can't stomach feeding them toads. I'm not even pretending like this makes any scientific sense, because it probably doesn't...it is just a personal feeling. What other people do is their business, but I personally can't deal with the guilty feelings associated with feeding toads.
I've felt pretty crummy about collecting skinks for baby kings, and even minnows for nerodia. This led me to decide that I am not going to keep anything that requires local live food.
My two ratsnakes eat thawed rodents. And honestly, I try real hard not to think about that. It bothers me. I don't want any more snakes to keep, but there will be the inevitable rescues which come my way. I like animals. It is hard to feed one to another.

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Re: Justification.............

Post by gbin » February 25th, 2014, 5:21 am

There are definitely personal philosophies at play here. Me, I take what I think of as the ecological view and recognize that in the natural course of things all creatures eat and are eaten in turn. It's not good or bad, but just the way things are. I know it bothers some folks, regardless, but I actually find it something of a comfort; it's that "circle of life" stuff, you know? So other than endeavoring to minimize suffering (not eliminate it, which is both unnatural and impossible), I don't concern myself too much over the killing that's called for to feed me or my animals. The only thing that really bothers me (aside from the deliberate or unthinking infliction of a bunch of unnecessary suffering) is waste, e.g. I'm fine with hunting so long as the kill is put to good use, and I'm not fine with the morbid ritual of pumping human bodies full of chemical preservatives and then sealing them in air-tight boxes. (Seriously, I've asked my wife to have my unembalmed carcass hauled out on a boat for hire past the 12-mile limit so that she doesn't get in legal trouble for dumping me at sea to feed the fishes when I die. :) )

Professionally, too, I've never had a problem sacrificing animals for scientific studies. If there's good justification for it and a reasonable effort is made to minimize associated suffering, I'm just fine with such work being done by myself or others. My wife is a wildlife biologist as well, but her personal philosophy pushes her to try hard not to bring any harm to the creatures she studies. Nor would she ever keep any animals that require being fed other animals that she would be responsible for dispatching. (She's not a vegetarian or anything like that, though, and of course she understands that our dog and especially our cat enjoy meat-based diets.)

To each our own, eh?

Gerry

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Re: Justification.............

Post by hellihooks » February 25th, 2014, 6:37 am

IMO, it's all about WHY you keep the herp that requires other herps as food. If it's for educational purposes, or perhaps to preserve an imperiled population (locality breeding) then you as the 'steward' of that animal, are obligated to take good care of it.

In other words... it's about 'motives'... if you're doing it for the good of the species... it's a 'necessity'...and justifiable. If, on the other hand, you're breeding morphs for (YOUR) profit... I think that's a bit more justifiably 'problematic'.

Keeping a herp-eating snake, because you personally like it, falls somewhere in the middle, and is a choice you'll have to make for yourself. Personally...I have done this, but make a point to collect feeders from the same area the snake came from, rationalizing that the snake would have taken the same amount of herps from the same area, had I not collected it. :thumb: jim

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Re: Justification.............

Post by Kelly Mc » February 25th, 2014, 7:19 am

There is nothing wrong i dont think, with aknowledging that sensation just behind the sternum, be it that warm glow of wonder or mercy toward the innocent, or the pain of causing pain. I do not see it at odds with scientific quest but just being fully present. I know a ukranian herpetologist who's shyness at times comes off as very chilly, he has described trips he has taken studying different herps, and always during these talks he never fails to mention "..how beautiful they are.." Not once, ever. They are all beautiful to him. A purely scientific world without reverence toward the living would be a horrible one, indeed.

Gerry Im with you - except I want to go terrestrial. I want to be fodder for all. A kelly buffet.

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Re: Justification.............

Post by chris_mcmartin » February 25th, 2014, 7:48 am

Veering off-topic, but for the "don't want to be embalmed" among us:

http://www.wengerna.com/blog/the-bios-u ... green-too/

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For me .........

Post by Kerby Ross » February 25th, 2014, 8:04 am

I have no problem with it at all ..... if ....

1) It is legal

2) It is a natural diet

:)

Kerby...

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Kelly Mc
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Re: For me .........

Post by Kelly Mc » February 25th, 2014, 9:16 am

[quote=]

2) It is a natural diet

[/quote]


But what is a natural diet? Is it what the animal eats in wild situ as part of its ecological niche? Or is it a diet that fulfills the nutritional necessities of a species, neither in deficit, nor excess.

I ask this because of the wide spectrum of animals in zoos of scholared stewardship, who are not fed the organisms of their natural habitat, but are fed what has been determined as a biological equivalent.

I am not being contentious at all, but see a future of small and large choices creating a picture of herpetoculture, that not only may expand our goals, but keep us within perimeters of what has been established by other animal disciplines, and may help avoid critical review as credible practitioners.

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Re: Justification.............

Post by jayder85 » February 25th, 2014, 9:38 am

I really like the input and conversation going on here. Like I said, I am not trying to start any argument, just get thoughts, views and opinions. As a kid, I thought that there was nothing cooler than watching an Eastern Black King Snake constrict and consume a Garter Snake found in my yard. I have found though that I have grown to appreciate all herps, regardless of how common they may be. I understand that it is a personal reason and that others have different view points. I work in the biological field as well and I by no means think that herpers are contributing to the demise of other herp species by collecting them for food.

I, like Tamara, value all forms of wildlife. Feeding mammals to herps doesn't mean that I value herps over mammals, just that I find better justification in feeding an easily bred mammal species than animals that can't be effectively propagated in captivity. One could also ask the question, "If I had a snake that fed only on a species of mammal that is losing ground but not yet protected, would I still maintain that snake?

I also like the statement issued by another poster regarding legalities. What if this long term captive that you have (which will only consume a wild type prey) can't be maintained on that prey anymore because the prey gained protective status? What will the future hold for that herp?

I really like Kelly MC's reference to zoological diets. At the same time I also understand that at one point, many species were only known to eat wild prey but through our working with them discovered more readily available alternatives and new techniques to maintain them in a more affective manner.

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Re: Justification.............

Post by Jimi » February 25th, 2014, 11:35 am

What is the justification of feeding herps to our herps? What is the justification for collecting all of the toads that we can to feed our Hognose Snake? All of the Amphiumas, Sirens and Salamanders to feed our Farancia?
Justification? The animals in our charge need to be fed. Just as wild animals need to eat. Mostly we're feeding wc animals the same thing they'd be eating in the wild. What's the problem?
As common as they may be, collecting various animals to feed captive animals doesn't help the local populations.
You're changing "the why" of feeding wild-caught prey. If "the why" is "to maintain that selective-diet animal in captivity" then why on Earth would you completely change "the why" to "must HELP the local prey population"? Where the hell does "help the local prey population" come into this?
And those sites that we guard with our lives to prevent people from collecting that Milk Snake or Pine Snake. Yet we don't mind to catch those Ringneck Snakes and Worm Snakes to feed that "snake feeder only" Lampropeltis that we have.
Alright, I don't know anyone guarding sites with "their lives". Let's not go all over-dramatic. Imagine if the king was from that site though. Wouldn't it be eating the same Carphophis etc? Most of the picky feeders people keep are wild-caughts themselves. There aren't a lot of cbb lines of anything maintained heavily let alone exclusively on wc diets. But there are some popular animals whose neonates are notoriously unreliable rodent starters, who often require a wc first few items, or at least prey scenting.
To me, if an animal cannot be maintained on a captive diet, it shouldn't be maintained in our personal collection just because we like that particular animal.
Good for you, knock yourself out. But don't push that onto other people, is all I'd ask. I really don't get much out of these tie-ourselves-in-knots moral arguments. I guess I'm kind of pragmatic & utilitarian. And quite live & let live.

There are WAY more people out there who would ban rodent breeding to feed snakes, than there are with your concern. Just consider that.

cheers,
Jimi

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Justification.............

Post by Kelly Mc » February 25th, 2014, 1:21 pm

If you didn't like the discussion, why take part?

As for breeding rodents to feed snakes and other carnivores and the people that want to ban it , that really is an entirely separate ball of fun, isn't it? I think their main focus are our eating habits. The frozen companies I have used have had a large non-reptile clientele. Im happy they exist as cervical fracture executed 50 to 250 X in an afternoon was a drag. It necessitated that it be done with most flawless expedience. Is that soft? Was Bruce Lee soft?.. LOL.

Ah those notorious baby anuran/saurian eaters....

you should say hello to my little friends... 14 ga, 16ga, 18 ga and 20 ga.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Justification.............

Post by Kelly Mc » February 25th, 2014, 1:52 pm

The 20 ga im looking at right now has a 2mm tip, it fits neatly into the C of the word Cent on a penny. It would work fine on a scarlet right after first shed. No waiting, no tails, and you can get a good meal with all the protein, calcium and d3 required. Fully nourished, non habituated to preferred prey snakes are easier to convert. Another great tool are thin alligator forceps for presenting tiny PK or Th - virtually invisible or at least they may as well be - they become an extension of the keepers will. 12 " to 14" anything shorter and the larger form of your hand spooks the score.

This isn't to say WC food is bad! But to illustrate that there are other ways. Why not explore them?

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Re: Justification.............

Post by hellihooks » February 25th, 2014, 3:02 pm

Certainly in every case, feeding either a CB/WC herp is justified... what I believe the OP means is: is it always morally sound, or ethical?

Lets look at this from a positive/negative utility purview. I collect a small glossy to use in a herp ed talk... the positive utility garnered by the species at large far outweighs the negative utility suffered by the one individual, even if it is then used as a feeder for a King snake, also used for herp education. all these things are done for the sake of the Herps, at large, and I would argue... morally justifiable.

If on the other hand... someone is harvesting wc 'feeder herps' to raise and sell cb herps, so that he may reap the profit... then he is profiting from nature... which in my book is morally problematic.

So again it comes down to 'WHY' one needs to harvest wc feeders... for the good of the herps, or for your own good?

Those are of course, the extremes between the mean... with the mean being the hobbiest who likes a certain herp, and has to do some wc harvest to take proper care of the herp he has assumed the responsibility of caring for... which is where folks need to decide for themselves where they stand on the issue. ;) jim

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Re: Justification.............

Post by gbin » February 25th, 2014, 3:18 pm

hellihooks wrote:If on the other hand... someone is harvesting wc 'feeder herps' to raise and sell cb herps, so that he may reap the profit... then he is profiting from nature... which in my book is morally problematic.
Who alive doesn't profit from nature, both directly and indirectly? Personal biases are fine when people realize that's what they are, but trouble begins when people start drawing arbitrary lines in an attempt to convince themselves their personal biases are something more than merely that, and try to make others conform to them.

Kelly, my first thought was to have my wife drag my unembalmed carcass out into the woods and bury it in a shallow grave, but I feel sure she'd get in trouble for that even if she could convince the authorities that she didn't kill me before putting me there. That's why I decided on burial at sea.

Gerry

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Re: Justification.............

Post by ThomWild » February 25th, 2014, 3:19 pm

I don't see any need for justification. I see this as a complete non-issue. If you don't like feeding herps to other herps because you don't like to see herps die or suffer then that is completely understandable and I have to respect that because it is your personal belief and preference. However, once you claim that you are against feeding herps to herps because you don't want to decimate, or you want to protect wild populations, now I can take issue with that because the premise is based on unsubstantiated science that may or may not support an emotional bias (again if you have that emotional investment great, just don't try to attach it to something it is not). There is a reason we teach basic tophic level ecology at the primary and secondary levels. Taking food items from the wild will have zero net impact on the fitness level of a healthy (or even semi-healthy) population. It is a very well known fact that organisms produce more offspring than the ecosystem will support. Whether it is a snake in the wild doing it on its own or you doing in proxy for a captive snake the herd is going to get culled. On the flip side, no population will be saved by not using w/c prey items. If a population is in such decline, a feel good, bandaid approach may bring humans a peace of mind but it isn't going to do much to help the organism in decline.

For the most part, good or bad, the reality is people are going to do what is most convenient. Meaning that in general people are going to go for what is available in excess. Populations that are in decline are typically not that easy to find, so anyone using a wild source of food will adapt to the inconvenience by either finding a better spot to collect from, or transitioning to a more convenient captive based diet. They are not likely to waste significant amounts of time or resources foraging for something that is not sustainable.

I realize my paradigm may be completely different from yours. I don't have problems finding loads of base trophic level prey items in my area. If I did there is a good chance my opinion would be different.

Kelly I like your idea about possibly experimenting with alternatives. As a garter snake keeper there is virtually nothing I have not tried to mix things up diet wise. Whether it be leeches, rodents, feeder fish, or trout gelatin that you mix up in a blender, shape like worms, and store in the freezer; I have tried most of it and I am willing to try almost anything that may come along. Some species are not as forgiving in their appetites as garters unfortunately. Although you can get things to change oftentimes, their are still individuals that will not for one reason or another. My point to all this rambling is try new things and continue to find possible improvements, but don't get stranded or stressed trying to reinvent the wheel.

-Thomas

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Re: Justification.............

Post by hellihooks » February 25th, 2014, 4:02 pm

gbin wrote:
hellihooks wrote:If on the other hand... someone is harvesting wc 'feeder herps' to raise and sell cb herps, so that he may reap the profit... then he is profiting from nature... which in my book is morally problematic.
Who alive doesn't profit from nature, both directly and indirectly? Personal biases are fine when people realize that's what they are, but trouble begins when people start drawing arbitrary lines in an attempt to convince themselves their personal biases are something more than merely that, and try to make others conform to them.

Gerry
I said "in my book"... not trying to force my views on anyone... that's just where I personally stand. My point is that morality is rarely in the action... but rather, in our head(s). Utilitarianism is but one way of determining 'Moral Worth'. For the record... I collect 'feeder herps' to feed some herps I use in herp Ed talks, with no qualms whatsoever. I don't/won't harvest herps for financial gain... I LIKE sleeping well, at night... :crazyeyes:

as for burial plans... I'm now getting paid to live at the place I instructed my kids to scatter my ashes... :shock: I'm a lucky guy to be able to say that. :) And... gives me plenty of peace/quiet to work on my 'Unifying Foundational Basis for Ethical Thought" :D jim

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Re: Justification.............

Post by Jimi » February 25th, 2014, 4:10 pm

I don't see any need for justification. I see this as a complete non-issue.
That's all I'm saying, right there. "It's a non-issue."
If you didn't like the discussion, why take part?
Because the man asked a question and it wasn't rhetorical. I gave him my answer. And it wasn't that I didn't like the discussion - I just disagree with some of the reasoning.

I could have elaborated and shared that one way I "live my code" on this topic is to selectively harvest non-native and if possible, injurious prey items. So I wouldn't use leopard frogs here, I'd use bullfrogs. I wouldn't use native cricket frogs, I'd use invasive Pacific treefrogs. In Florida I'd pass up all green anoles and use only browns. Adult greenhouse frogs, not native hylid metamorphs, etc etc, BUT if I needed a skink, hey Scincella are great!
you should say hello to my little friends... 14 ga, 16ga, 18 ga and 20 ga.
Oh I've been there, still have the tools in fact. But since my passion is venomous, well, "that really is an entirely separate ball of fun" as you say. You don't just throw yourself at every single opportunity to assist-feed you can gin up.

When push comes to shove you man up, grab 'em and get it done & over with. But you do everything humanly possible to relentlessly manage your risk down, down, down. Rule 1 there is, do not touch it! So give 'em what they're born desiring, don't invent and adopt some weird moral universe where a mouse is prima facie a better prey item than anything herp, for an animal that really does seem to have been born thinking mouse odor denotes something disgusting or dangerous. I've come to regard forcing frog & lizard feeders to eat rodents as a form of animal cruelty. With Wagler's vipers it definitely seems to be physiologically harmful. But read on -
trouble begins when people start drawing arbitrary lines in an attempt to convince themselves their personal biases are something more than merely that, and try to make others conform to them
There's one to close on.

Cheers,
Jimi

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Justification.............

Post by Kelly Mc » February 25th, 2014, 5:21 pm

Sometimes it seems that sharing a perspective, or even actively promoting its value, is perceived as trying to 'force others to conform'

Herpetoculturists are not known to conform or even consider other keepers ideas very readily. I think sometimes if a method or idea does ring a note of merit, or private re evaluation of ones own , a kind of jarring self identity event occurs, that is not intended or compatable with a discourse leading to a collective body of knowledge.

My take on this thread is the stimulus of innovation and also a look at interdisciplinary material and scope. The scrutiny of respectable entities and the potential for aligning ourselves with animal use standards as developed per research and reviewed animal science studies when possible was another seed of consideration tossed.

And I agree that the Rodent Model is extremely narrow, and I strongly suspect is inherently Unhealthy for taxa that feed on other poikilotherms as a mainstay diet. I have discussed this at length in many threads.

I respect you highly - my question is though, Where were you when I needed you? ;)

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Re: Justification.............

Post by gbin » February 25th, 2014, 7:47 pm

Kelly Mc wrote:Sometimes it seems that sharing a perspective, or even actively promoting its value, is perceived as trying to 'force others to conform'
Fair enough, Kelly, "force others to conform" was perhaps unreasonably strong in this instance. But there's a difference between saying "I behave this way because it's what I feel is right" and "no one should behave that way because I feel it's wrong." (And there's a difference, too, between saying something once and saying it repeatedly.) If there were anything more than just personal bias behind it then it might be worth considering or at least debating, but apparently there isn't.
Kelly Mc wrote:My take on this thread is the stimulus of innovation and also a look at interdisciplinary material and scope...
And my take is that you're being exceedingly generous/kind toward this thread. ;) For my part, I'd say that it was born of good intentions led astray by misconceptions and personal biases, that it then had at least a few more misconceptions and personal biases heaped upon it, and that it was nonetheless lucky enough to have a couple of broadly thinking people such as yourself lead it to a more productive path, i.e. a discussion of the fact that there may be many ways (with some more palatable than others to people with varying tastes) to meet the needs of our captive animals if we're just flexible and creative enough to pursue them. Kudos to you, by all means, but not to this thread overall; most of it's just a waste of keystrokes.

Sorry, I call them as I see them.

Gerry

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Justification.............

Post by Kelly Mc » February 25th, 2014, 8:12 pm

You are generous and always have been Gerry.

Animal use standards that could be relatable, if using collected herps, like amphibians, would be how they are managed, if they are treated with a light hand and expeditiously, over dozens of live toads piled in a bucket on the back porch. Such like that..

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Re: Justification.............

Post by BillMcGighan » February 26th, 2014, 5:26 pm

Jd,
I just have to add one more vote for avoiding sustaining a captive on wild caught, if possible.
I avoid this, if for no other reason than to lower probabilities of introducing parasites into a collection.


Tamara's Eastern Hognosed is a good example where switching the animal over to mice may be nearly impossible. (Western HN switch over fairly easily as a general rule.)
In your position, JD, keeping an animal like that might be justified because of the educational benefits.

On very rare occasion I’ve had to get a hatchling eating something, so I’ve given a local natural prey for a couple feedings, then, switched it over to pinks.

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Re: Justification.............

Post by Don Becker » February 27th, 2014, 8:38 am

Why are we limiting this questions to just the collection of herps to feed herps? What about people who go out and collect earth worms to feed herps, or go out and dipnet minnows to feed herps, catch birds to feed herps (local science teacher here used to do that).

With that said, I had to collect toads to feed some Eastern Hognose Snakes for a while. My justification? First, the snakes were used for educating kids, so the toads were a small price to pay to have that ability to give the kids a hands on experience with an awesome snake. Second, the toads are EXTREMELY common compared to the Hognose snakes. The pond I would gather toads from was actually a small flooded athletic field at a city park. I could walk up to it with a pillow case, grab 48 toads (my legal daily limit) in about 10 minutes, and there was still 100s of toads left in the small area doing their thing, and making lots of babies.

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Re: Justification.............

Post by Kelly Mc » February 27th, 2014, 9:24 am

Kids ask questions like rain.. all the more to teach. Like "What Does He Eat? Where? Why? How?.."

So the collection of the toads, and their proper euthanasia (which according to current research+revewed data of process does not include live freezing) Becomes more truth to teach.

I love including as much full disclosure as possible. Its challenging but otherwise just by holding a snake all that is learned is how they feel.

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Re: Justification.............

Post by rtdunham » February 27th, 2014, 12:57 pm

gbin wrote:... my first thought was to have my wife drag my unembalmed carcass out into the woods and bury it in a shallow grave, but I feel sure she'd get in trouble for that even if she could convince the authorities that she didn't kill me before putting me there...
Hi, Gerry. There's a great outline there for a short story or novel: Guy wants to be buried in the woods, but doesn't want his wife to get in trouble. So he leaves a letter with his attorney, saying, in effect, "yeah, she's gonna bury me in the woods. She didn't kill me. It's cool." And then the wife starts having doubts about the relationship...

I'm just sayin', Gerr, it never hurts to keep looking over your shoulder. :-)
ThomWild wrote:Taking food items from the wild will have zero net impact on the fitness level of a healthy (or even semi-healthy) population.
I'm pretty sure you're talking about collecting critters to feed captive snakes, and not generalizing with this statement. But it reminded me of a New Yorker review by Jonathan Rosen of the book "Passenger Pigeons; A Feathered River Across the Sky: the Passenger Pigeon's Flight to Extinction", by Joel Greenberg. It might not be news to many people here, but it was news to me to learn that hunting the pigeons for food was a major--possibly the major--contributor to their decline.

The review says: "...the central question that Greenberg sets out to answer is how a bird could go from a population of billions to zero in less than fifty years.

"The short answer," Rosen writes, "is that it tasted good. Also, it was easy to kill and so abundant that it often seemed, in the days before refrigeration, like the quail that fell on the Israelites in Exodus....Despite the occasional apocalyptic shiver, most Americans looked up and decided that it was cloudy with a chance of meatballs."

"Market hunters", Greenberg says, in the late 19th century, could for the first time learn by telegraph the locations where huge flocks (of perhaps billions of birds) came to ground; for the first time, they could use trains to rapidly get to those locations; and for the first time they could use the rails to ship freight cars full of the take back to masses of customers in cities. At the same time, agricultural expansion was destroying the tall tree forests the birds favored.

I'd recommend the book and (below) the review:

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/b ... ntPage=all

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Re: Justification.............

Post by Jimi » February 27th, 2014, 4:10 pm

I'm pretty sure you're talking about collecting critters to feed captive snakes, and not generalizing with this statement.
I'm quite sure you're right - he was staying on-topic about wc herps as snake food, not wc anything as human-food-for-sale.

Commercialization of dead wildlife as human food (or "medicine", or "fashion") rarely turns out well for the wildlife. As true for 19th century passenger pigeons as Galapagos tortoises, American pronghorn, beaver, snowy egret; ditto contemporary turtles, tigers, rhinos, elephants, etc. Commercial fishing is mainly a long story of serial economic extinction of the target taxa, and often severe non-target impacts to boot.

Crocodilians are an interesting exception to "the harm of dead-animal markets" - most of the "leatherable" ones are now very secure (demographically anyway...) due to farming for hides, and/or good sustainable wild harvest. Non-leatherable ones range from extremely imperiled (gharial) to very secure (both dwarf caimans). Crocodilian life history can support quite a bit of exploitation, as long as full life-cycle habitat needs are met. It's a bit surprising. I think it's the high fecundity, which combined with excellent parental care leads to high adult recruitment.

I think of croc-hood as one of Nature's most-generous endowments to a taxonomic group. What a keeper of a design & behavioral repertoire. Bad-ass.

Since we're veering off-topic.

cheers,
Jimi

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Re: Justification.............

Post by gbin » February 27th, 2014, 5:07 pm

rtdunham wrote:Hi, Gerry. There's a great outline there for a short story or novel: Guy wants to be buried in the woods, but doesn't want his wife to get in trouble. So he leaves a letter with his attorney, saying, in effect, "yeah, she's gonna bury me in the woods. She didn't kill me. It's cool." And then the wife starts having doubts about the relationship...

I'm just sayin', Gerr, it never hurts to keep looking over your shoulder. :-)
Yikes! :shock: And you're right, Ter, that does sound like a pretty good plot (pardon the pun). A Stephen King treatment would be about right, I think. :lol:

I think Jimi's point about it not just being food for humans but being commercialized food (or other uses for the carcass) for humans that dooms wildlife is a good one. I suspect the passenger pigeon might still be with us today if folks restricted themselves to hunting for their own cookpots rather than making a nickel or whatever it was off of every bird they shot. (I too read a review - in the Wall Street Journal, of all places - that made that book sound very good, by the way, and it's been on my to-read list ever since. Want to send me your copy if you're through with it? Or better yet, come to visit me here in the Adirondacks and bring it with you?)

And Jimi, I think your interesting exception actually points out another qualifier that really matters when we look at what imperils wildlife. Alligators are doing great today, but that wasn't always the case. Protection brought them back from being closer than comfort to the edge, but what's kept them well away from that edge ever since has been the fact that they're now ranched (or farmed, if you prefer) to provide for commercialized human consumption. Market hunting is a great way to eliminate a species, but ranching for market appears to be a great way to ensure that they stick around (even if some wild take is still allowed). The same comparison can readily be made with commercially wild-caught versus farmed fish species. Indeed, back when most of my zoo work was with tigers my boss and I used to not-so-jokingly tell people that "the best way to save tigers is to ranch them!" Didn't make us very popular among our fellow wildlife conservationists, but I think we had - and still have - a valid point. There are now somewhere around half as many tigers in existence today as there were at that time... :(

Gerry

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Re: Justification.............

Post by regalringneck » February 28th, 2014, 8:00 am

... so yeah, the people responding made this thread worth a look if mebbe anudda response ... dittoes 2 Jimi & Dr.B as usual ... "keystrokes of the enlightened", numerous others too ... & while not long ago, id'a dismissed the original theme w/o a 2'nd thought ... now i think i know of 1 who fed a rubberboa to a ringneck ... that now, is a crime against nature as well as everything that is round & loveable ... :(
edit; re: success's ranching wildlife ... it appears this industry has brought the lovely brain wasting prions into our wild cervid herds, hatchery diseases, avian diseases ... a mixed bag by my view?

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Re: Justification.............

Post by gbin » February 28th, 2014, 2:47 pm

regalringneck wrote:re: success's ranching wildlife ... it appears this industry has brought the lovely brain wasting prions into our wild cervid herds, hatchery diseases, avian diseases ... a mixed bag by my view?
Also a very worthwhile point, especially given that it probably seemed above that I was singing the praises of wildlife ranching (which wasn't really my intention). I'll add, though, that these kinds of problems don't seem to be inherent to ranching in and of itself, but seem to arise from some (most?) ranchers' perpetual pursuit of maximum profit. Folks try to get away with what they think is the most economical feed, or the greatest animal density per available resources, or the bare minimum water filtration or other hygienic practices, and problems such as these diseases arise.

Gerry

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Re: Justification.............

Post by hellihooks » February 28th, 2014, 4:49 pm

'Mad Cow' disease is prion transmitted and comes from cows eating cow bone meal in their diet... the human equivalent is Kuru... the brain-wasting disease suffered by Papua New Guinea cannibals, with onset of the disease often 30 to 50 years after infection... :o
Point of fact... no one really knows if generations of people who grew up eating hamburger made from cows eating cows, will start coming down with 'mad man' disease, or not. And if so... how soon. Prions are so small as to be nearly undetectable (way smaller than any virus) and far as I know... no treatment exists. Oh well...hope for the best, I guess.. :roll: jim

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Re: Justification.............

Post by BillMcGighan » February 28th, 2014, 5:16 pm

RR
now i think i know of 1 who fed a rubberboa to a ringneck ... that now, is a crime against nature as well as everything that is round & loveable ... :(
John, you reminded me of a "feeding local food" story.

Warning - Warning Old guy story - Stop reading while you can.


Before legally regulated, I kept 2 adult Indigos in large spacious cages. They ate anything that moved; chicks, mice, rats, small children.
As a way of adding variety, and interest, if I found a fresh road kill snake, I’d give it to one of the snake raptors; thoughts of introducing parasites were absent.

If given a Yellow Ratsnake or Corn, for example, either indigo would grab it anywhere in mid body, as soon as they saw it. The male would come completely out the cage door for a ratsnake. I used tongs to offer the meal.

On the way home from work one evening, I found a young EDB that was hit, guts on the road, but didn’t act like it was doomed at all, yet; crawling, coiling, striking, etc.

I dropped the poor creature in with the male indigo. The Indigo raced over then came up short and stopped. He had NEVER done this with a racer or ratsnake.

The Diamondback started to crawl.
The Indigo crawled parallel with the EDB, head raised, neck in an ess.

It followed the EDB around 2/3 of the cage perimeter, then stuck, grabbing the rattler by the head. In true Indigo form, it then threw its massive body on the prey, while pulling the head at an L shaped angle, stretching the EDB out straight and probably breaking its neck.

Swallowing commenced, head first.

I would have never had the privilege of watching this change in behavior had I not used this feeding practice back then.

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Re: Justification.............

Post by Kfen » February 28th, 2014, 5:34 pm

Keeping with the going off topic theme ;) ...

To add to Bill's post above- a friend in college had a carpet python that was fed live mice all the time. The snake would just go right over, bite the mouse and wrap without hesitation. My friend's roommate decided to splurge and buy a parakeet (or finch, I cant remember). Once the carpet python sensed the bird, it moved ever so slowly that it was barely perceptible. It took about 5 minutes for the snake to crawl across a 4 foot tank and got within about an inch of the bird before it struck. This was a captive born snake that was never given a bird prior, but it instinctually knew that it only had one shot to capture it. I thought it was such a neat behavior that I will likely never forget.

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Re: Justification.............

Post by hellihooks » February 28th, 2014, 6:19 pm

I tossed a 1 ft chunk of dor kingsnake into my BIG (6 ft) bengal monitor's enclosure... and he freaked... busted the glass out then came after me... I spiderman-like backed up a corner, using shelves on the walls for purchase, to the ceiling, where I had to stay for like an hr...till roomates got home and let the still angry monitor out of the snake room. Never tried to feed him a snake, dead or alive, again... :shock: :lol: :lol: jim

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Re: Justification.............

Post by Kelly Mc » February 28th, 2014, 8:21 pm

Kfen wrote:Keeping with the going off topic theme ;) ...

To add to Bill's post above- a friend in college had a carpet python that was fed live mice all the time. The snake would just go right over, bite the mouse and wrap without hesitation. My friend's roommate decided to splurge and buy a parakeet (or finch, I cant remember). Once the carpet python sensed the bird, it moved ever so slowly that it was barely perceptible. It took about 5 minutes for the snake to crawl across a 4 foot tank and got within about an inch of the bird before it struck. This was a captive born snake that was never given a bird prior, but it instinctually knew that it only had one shot to capture it. I thought it was such a neat behavior that I will likely never forget.

At a Nature Center I worked at there were 2 oreganus who were mostly fed mice, but sometimes live chicks. When they struck the mice it was in usual form, strike wait a bit, eat. But with the chicks they would strike but not let go. Both of them did this. My experience with crotes has not been extensive, but I have cared for a few, but those guys the only ones I ever fed avian prey. Only rodents.

I wonder if this behavior, hardwired with bird prey is because a bird once struck could flutter out of location range before death? I have asked this question before, and described the holding on strike, hoping a crote keeper would have some input or notice same.

The Indigo story was fascinating.

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Re: Justification.............

Post by Joshua Jones » March 1st, 2014, 7:09 am

Kelly Mc wrote: At a Nature Center I worked at there were 2 oreganus who were mostly fed mice, but sometimes live chicks. When they struck the mice it was in usual form, strike wait a bit, eat. But with the chicks they would strike but not let go. Both of them did this.

I wonder if this behavior, hardwired with bird prey is because a bird once struck could flutter out of location range before death? I have asked this question before, and described the holding on strike, hoping a crote keeper would have some input or notice same.
You might be on to something there, Kelly. I've seen that behavior in the wild and in my own captives.

Regarding the subject of this post, most of the people I know that use herp feeders collect DORs or get frozen reptiles from breeders. With the DORs, I can see disease being an issue, but I can see no issue with buying breeder stock that wasn't able to be sold. The big issue I have with reptile feeders is when people try to get them on to prey items that they don't necessarily need or want.

Four or five years ago, my brother and I made a huge mistake that's left a sour taste in my mouth. We belonged to a herp club in Arizona and we were asked by a well-known member of that club to collect a coralsnake for him. Now, this guy is an accomplished breeder of many of Arizona's herp species and assured us that he had a source for frozen feeder snakes. Given his reputation and experience, we got him his coralsnake. A very uncommon snake in the pet trade, in the capable hands of an experienced breeder; what could go wrong?

A few months later, this same person is posting photos of his new coral on an online forum. It comes up in the course of the conversation that he has been force-feeding it pinkies and that he feels that this is perfectly okay. After arguing this point with him, I came under fire from the rest of the forum, who seemed to think I was just hating on a guy for having a cool pet. Now, some years later, the coralsnake is very much dead, I no longer belong to that organization, and most of those people have no idea the kind of dishonest person they're dealing with. I know that story doesn't really cover the ethics of feeding herps to herps, but hopefully it will give pause to those who might otherwise assume that the "reputable keepers" they meet on line are acting in the best interests of their herps. I don't want anyone else to have to kick themselves the way that I have.

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Re: Justification.............

Post by Jimi » March 1st, 2014, 8:39 am

"Grab & hang on" does seem to be totally hardwired against birds and frogs, with crotes. Lizards a bit less so but it's still a common tactic. Surely it has evolved because strike & release ended up too many times as "pure payment", no reward. That would have a cost, in reproduction and survival...as would being injured by holding onto dangerous prey items like rats, rabbits, etc.

Bill - awesome story about the indigos. Clever "raptors"...I figured they had some immunity and thereby just took the hit. Interesting they (sometimes, at least) try quite hard to avoid bites. Kingsnakes - from what I've observed - don't try to avoid bites at all, they're just food idiots.
Kfen - ditto the carpet python story - way cool!
These are just 2 of the neat behaviors one can see by switching up the f/t rodent habit.

(I've never kept a mudsnake but I wonder how they grab & slurp sirens etc. I've also never been bitten by one. I wonder what their teeth are like? Possibly quite long and pointy?)

Josh - yeah that coral-keeper sounds like a real tool. I've often thought and said, that coral-keepers (& krait-keepers, etc) ought to breed house snakes as feeders. Smooth scales, fecund as all-get-out, mouse feeders from the get-go, all that. (I think they're better than corns as farmed feeders.) Anyway, diverging a bit...sorry you guys got burned by a liar. I just wouldn't over-apply the lesson, and develop excessive mistrust...also wouldn't beat yourselves up too much.

Oh, finally, back to the dead-wildlife-markets. Besides commercial fishing, and ungulate "ranching" that some states allow, the only other major US case of this still with us today is trapping for fur. I don't care for it myself, but it does seem to be well-enough-regulated to be sustainable. Curiously, we are presently in a high-price phase for some pelts - bobcat for example. Extreme price swings are a staple of the industry. I think it has more to do with fickle demand (fashion-design crap) than supply. Anyway, this fur-trapping is something I like to whip out when, in my own sector, someone trots out the arguments about "excessive pet collection" being 1) a serious threat to native snakes and 2) somehow completely different from anything else that's done in this country (and which therefore must be stamped out). Unfortunately, in some quarters these myths have taken on almost a religious aspect - no information, no argument, no proof is sought or even tolerated: "It is Known, it is Truth." Faith, not science. Not a great basis for wildlife management, IMO.

cheers,
Jimi

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Re: Justification.............

Post by Kelly Mc » March 1st, 2014, 12:28 pm

So holding on would actually be the older move and quick release the newer adaptive (mix in defense....defense!) like constriction hallmarks shift to more combatively adept, metabolically strident prey animals.

This seems more significant than what we are able to adopt in dietary husbandry, switching of phyla reflected in a broad and casual light "he seems to be doing great on..."

It is a quandry but not an unexciting frontier

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Re: Justification.............

Post by BillMcGighan » March 1st, 2014, 7:31 pm

Joshua
The big issue I have with reptile feeders is when people try to get them on to prey items that they don't necessarily need or want.
Josh, I knew a guy in the '80s who did worse and it caught up with him.

He fed a 10 inch Road Guarder (Conophis)(Culebra Guardacaminos) to a 22 inch Eastern king. The King grabbed the prey, constricted, and ate it, but not before the meal bit the King a few times.
The next morning the king was dead. This guy complained, "But the king was supposed to be immune."


Hmmmm Strong like fox, smart like tractor.

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Kelly Mc
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Re: Justification.............

Post by Kelly Mc » March 1st, 2014, 8:09 pm

Another thing I have seen, with king snakes and milk snakes, is that they will start eating a snake (or lizard) before it is fully expired, but with mammal prey they are acute to make sure its Dead before they begin eating, unless its a harmless pinky/fuzzy.

Has anyone noticed that?

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Re: Justification.............

Post by herpseeker1978 » March 2nd, 2014, 7:45 am

Kelly Mc wrote:Another thing I have seen, with king snakes and milk snakes, is that they will start eating a snake (or lizard) before it is fully expired, but with mammal prey they are acute to make sure its Dead before they begin eating, unless its a harmless pinky/fuzzy.

Has anyone noticed that?
My Patchnose won't even attempt a mouse unless it is already dead, but she loves chasing down lizards and makes quick work of them:


She could just be picky though, she will only eat pinkies even though she could take a fuzzy no problem!

Josh

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Re: Justification.............

Post by BillMcGighan » March 2nd, 2014, 8:47 am

To me, two thoughts really jump to the forefront with these behaviors (but probably stating the obvious):

1. We know from observations globally that, as a general rule, minor to medium injuries affect a predator’s survivability much more that a similar injury to an herbivore (e.g. a deep cut can be a real problem for a cheetah’s ability to catch a food; the herbivore prey can at least find food with a similar wound and maybe borrow time to build up healing energy.

2. Our herps developed these hunting strategies over millions of years, possibly at first by chance, but honed to an edge by natural selection.

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Re: Justification.............

Post by regalringneck » March 2nd, 2014, 10:37 am

... & more interesting if not tasty tidbits, 1stly yes i too have witnessed numerous interesting if dis-tasteful, incidents of squamates eating live non-struggling prey, even crotes devour nestlings alive ... Bill's last coupla posts prompt me to the keyboard tho. Interestingly a cribo that i raised on numerous DoR coachwhips/gophersnakes/atrox & scutes,usually i'd offer the food head 1st via forceps. "Mojo" like most indigos had a helluva feeding response, yet he would rush up to the occasional live atrox and despite never having experienced being bit, he would circle about and never attempted to prey on a live viper, even a small one! The atrox did perform the unique body swelling & arching behavior like they do when approached by a getulus.
I had the same experience w/ my Clelia, though it was bitten by a neonate atrox as a young snake and may have learned that was not good, despite their general reputation to ignore viperine bites! What was especially insightful for me though, is that both of these snakes appeared to fully recognize the difference between live & dead prey & understand what the difference meant to their level of hunger. Heretofore, I'd concluded most snakes fed by scent/heat/& or general appearance of a given offering.
I've noted too on a number of earlier experiments that healthy well fed cali-kingsnakes also will generally refuse a live crote.
Bill, your note on the roadguarder is very interesting (Clelia venom is also toxic to getulus) and i wonder if possibly these taxa limit getulus to n. of the tropics?

Image

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Re: Justification.............

Post by BillMcGighan » March 3rd, 2014, 7:55 am

RR, That Muss is truly an awesome beast. :thumb:
What was especially insightful for me though, is that both of these snakes appeared to fully recognize the difference between live & dead prey & understand what the difference meant to their level of hunger.
I think that there is much more to snake behavior than we know, since they are not as demonstrative as some other herps!


Kind of a tangent:
As most here probably know, most NA ratsnakes and “getulus” kings become chow hounds in captivity, to the point of caution for your own fingers when feeding them, but, currently in my care, I have one SUBOC that will not take a frozen thawed mouse, no matter how craftily I warm and wiggle the prey.
On long thin tongs/hemostats, I can make the dead animal sit and quiver, run, jump, sing, dance, and recite poetry, and all the SUBOC will do is approach at a safe distance and look. :shock:
I can take a fresh killed mouse and do the same; nothing.

Two ways I can feed this one:
1. Drop a live mouse in and the hunt is immediate.
2. Offer a frozen thawed day old quail. After he eats this, he’ll take a thawed mouse! Go figure.




JD, sorry for all this derail, but it kind of is on topic; if you squint your eyes real tight. :)

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