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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Following on from a recent discussion regarding the free handling of opisthoglyphous snakes I decided I would post a thread on another controversial and much discussed topic in the hope that we can once again have an interesting debate!

I am curious to know what opinions people have on the euthanasia of hatchling snakes. Breeders both experienced and new often face this dilemma - a snake hatches that is either malformed in some way or is otherwise not able to fully function.

Often I see people discuss or even advocate keeping snakes alive that are, for example, kinked when born. I am curious to know what everyone else thinks on this matter. What conditions would a snake have to be in for you to have to euthanise it? Is a minor kink enough for you to justify doing this, or would the condition have to be a lot more severe?

Also how would you euthanise the snake? I know some people advocate cooling and freezing as a 'humane' way of doing this - but most say the only sure fire way of ensuring a swift and humane death is a blow to the head.

Discuss!
 

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I have never bred, so please bear that in mind. Often things are different when faced with the problem you thought had fully anticipated!

I would euthanise only if the snake was kinked between head and vent, as I would suspect that this would adversely affect feeding and digestion. I would not euthanise non-feeders; I have had success with other peoples', without forcing them.

A blow to the head would be method of choice. Freezing seems slow and painful.
 

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for me if the animal is not able to function as it should in any way or issues such as nuro are causing the animal to become distressed then that would be a trip to the vets for me (and the vets for me is the only way i will ever find acceptable of euthanasing a snake)

if it is able to function and is not stressed by its condition then i will give it a chance.

i would however not sell the animal on and would be prepared to give it a home for life if need be and wouldnt breed if i wasnt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
that would be a trip to the vets for me (and the vets for me is the only way i will ever find acceptable of euthanasing a snake)
For hatchling snakes in particular a lot of people seem to say that a trip to the vets is not necessarily the best way to go. The injection is often quite distressing and painful.

Is a trip to the vets your only choice simply because you feel you would be unable to do it yourself or are you of the opinion that any other method is inhumane?

if it is able to function and is not stressed by its condition then i will give it a chance.
How do you personally gauge stress? It is often not easy to identify whether or not a snake is suffering so I am curious to know how you personally identify this. Also, how long would you leave it before you decide the snake isn't functioning at a level you would consider acceptable.

i would however not sell the animal on and would be prepared to give it a home for life if need be and wouldnt breed if i wasnt.
Would this be the case if, for example, an entire clutch of hatchlings (say 10 for the sake of it) was malformed in some way?

Please note I am not attacking your opinion I am just trying to get a real understanding of them!
 

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We as keepers and breeders have a duty of care and a responsibility to act in a merciful and humane manner, should an animal be effected in any way which causes, or can lead to cause, pain / suffering, or any other adverse implications to quality of of captive life.

There are a number of way of offering a pain free and stress free death. I have looked into methods of euthenasia a few times, and find myself persuaded each time by CO2 method as being the most humane and guaranteed method.

Instantly some people say "you can't gas snakes, they can hold their breath" - I assure you, if it breathes, it can be gassed. If done correctly, the snake would have no awareness that this is even happening.

Freezing is, beyond any shadow of a doubt, the most barbaric and drawn out inhumane method I can imagine. I wish this myth that it is painless would go away.
 

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Deformed offspring euthaniased and then used as feeders (king snake or short tailed opposums).

Complete cranial destruction is the method.




Personally, I would euthanaise any facial deformity or spinal deformity pre-vent. Tail kinks would be decided on a case by case basis based on litter mates, previous litters and known or unknown incubation spikes or dips.


Snakes generally produce far more offspring than would ever survive in the wild and I see little point in perpetuating defects.




Best for the animal, not for the keeper (difficulty with euthaniasing or a desire to aid or protect the needy are human issues and I find the idea of 'everything deserves the right to life' difficult when you can't communicate effectively with the animal to discuss its pain and suffering,quality of life or will)

Simple logic wins the day for me...


Raising a deformed snake = possibility of suffering

Euthaniasing a deformed snake = No possibility at all of suffering



For me, it's a no brainer.
 

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http://la.rsmjournals.com/content/30/4/293.full.pdf

Freezing is not acceptable apparently all though its interesting it mentions it acts as an aneasthetic. Plenty other methods on there. I think its just that freezing is the easiest for us to handle as we dont have to 'face up' to what were doing so to speak.

Ps ive used the freezer in the past but i wont in future i dont think
 

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For hatchling snakes in particular a lot of people seem to say that a trip to the vets is not necessarily the best way to go. The injection is often quite distressing and painful.

Is a trip to the vets your only choice simply because you feel you would be unable to do it yourself or are you of the opinion that any other method is inhumane?

this is a personal opinion for me, i could not do it myself and it would be cruel for me to try if i was hesitant. i could not freeze due to the differing opinions on this.

How do you personally gauge stress? It is often not easy to identify whether or not a snake is suffering so I am curious to know how you personally identify this. Also, how long would you leave it before you decide the snake isn't functioning at a level you would consider acceptable.

tricky one this as some snakes are easy to tell if stressed and others not so. i have a jag with a quite bad wobble and she gets stressed being handled so i have to be careful, she will also thrash about her viv to escape when i go to pick her up some days, but left to her own devises she is calm and feeds ect like she should.

if the animal isnt doing its basic functions, or will never be able to feed or drink unassisted (deformed jaw ect) or is a bad corkscrewer that causes the animal the risk of physical harm then i personally dont think this is an acceptable quality of life.

Would this be the case if, for example, an entire clutch of hatchlings (say 10 for the sake of it) was malformed in some way?

yes it would, dont get me wrong if i could rehome them to someone i knew and they were happy to take one on that would be ok by me, but ultimately if i am breeding these animals i should be prepared to care for them if something has gone badly wrong. i feel thats my responsibility after choosing to breed the animals in the first place.

Please note I am not attacking your opinion I am just trying to get a real understanding of them!
i wont ever be breeding for commercial gain or on that level so i am able to have this opinion and luxury, and again this is just personally how i feel and im not attacking anyone who doesnt agree : victory:
 

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I have several kinked snakes that I will keep as pet only, never breeding them. I'm happy to give them the chance of life as long as they feed and poo without problems and have full movement.

I've only had to euthanise one so far that was obviously not going to survive anyway and that was hit on the head and fed to my Cali king.

I was talking to a very experienced exotics vet recently and showed him one of the kinked corns and was very surprised when he said there was no harm in breeding him as the kinks were not genetic.
 

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as said any with jaw/head deforaties would be euthaniased and any with kinks that restricted/affected their movement or digestion would also be euthaniased.

i would put them in the freezer or smack them on the head to euthaniase them as ive seen a few videos of mice/rats being gassed an it looks like a stressfull way to go as if the mice are running around an panicing then im sure a snake would be thrashing around just the same
 

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anything that could possibly lead the snake to suffering I would have euthaniased although I cannot comment on how it would be done as I don't know if I could do it personally. I even got a bit emotional the other day feeding a rat to one of my snakes because it looked like one of my old pet rats... sad I know :blush:
 

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Hatchlings-brick to the head. Adults-vet job
 

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as said any with jaw/head deforaties would be euthaniased and any with kinks that restricted/affected their movement or digestion would also be euthaniased.

i would put them in the freezer or smack them on the head to euthaniase them as ive seen a few videos of mice/rats being gassed an it looks like a stressfull way to go as if the mice are running around an panicing then im sure a snake would be thrashing around just the same

The body fluids expand when they freeze causing great pain.
 

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Unless the snake had a severe neurological issue I wouldn't euthanise it. Or if the snake was consistently showing of unhealthiness, but this decision would be made from observation not assumptions.

I don't think any of us are in a position to say whether a snake is suffering or not from spinal defects etc. I have friends with snakes that have kinks all over, and they seem just as healthy as 'perfect' animals.

I would much rather put the extra effort in, just like anyone would do for a person. Yes, the snake wouldn't survive in the wild - but this isn't the wild, they were born due to our actions.
 

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I guess it just depends on the individual situation. We had two corns that didn't leave the egg, alive, but deformed, and they were euthanised with a sharp blow to the head. I guess if they had a major kink we would euthanise them, but it depends how severe, we had a gopher with a couple of minor kinks below the vent and she acted perfectly normal, but it's another situation which would need to be judged when it happens...
 

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but with being cold blooded as far as im aware reptiles shut down and all the blood ect goes to the vital organs so essentially the animal goes to sleep and if they are cooled first it wouldnt be a shock of suddenly being put in the freezer
Everything I've read heard suggests it's excruciating for snake to be put in freezer. Cranial destruction would be quickest and most effective
 

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but with being cold blooded as far as im aware reptiles shut down and all the blood ect goes to the vital organs so essentially the animal goes to sleep and if they are cooled first it wouldnt be a shock of suddenly being put in the freezer
Not so I'm afraid - you have organ failure prior to neuro shut down, which includes heart attack - plus crystallisation and rupture of cells. All prior to death. Lovely.

Honestly, throwing them on a fire would be kinder than freezing.
 

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I've never considered breeding before so not really put much thought into how I would euthanise, but I've always assumed that all breeders take them the vets for the blue needle.

I am genuinely suprised the amount who crush the skull. I don't know if I could do that, I'm sure at the time I could if I could see it was suffering, but I don't know.

/The freezer job sounds horrendous!
 

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I've never considered breeding before so not really put much thought into how I would euthanise, but I've always assumed that all breeders take them the vets for the blue needle.

I am genuinely suprised the amount who crush the skull. I don't know if I could do that, I'm sure at the time I could if I could see it was suffering, but I don't know.

/The freezer job sounds horrendous!
I felt like this, until I read a thread by LuiBlu who took a very, very sick royal to the vets for euthanasia, it took almost 24 hours to take effect if I remember rightly; a very slow death indeed.
 
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