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The great debate: live prey VS pre-killed?2014-07-05

There is a subject, which seemingly comes up among snake keepers time after time, however it should not have been a debate for decades, namely: to feed with live or pre-killed animals...

This article has been written, because not long ago some inexperienced snake keepers tried to convince an even less experienced snake lover to feed with live preys at a snake forum, because "every normal keeper would feed their snakes on live prey, as snake must also hunt in the wild".

Specialist literatures had stated 30 years ago that the only acceptable reason to feed with live prey is when the snake is willing to acccept only such. As a confirmation, I suggest to take a look at snake keepers with decades of experiences. They all agree with that and are using only pre-killed animals to feed in their collection. What's more, in some countries feeding live preys is even prohibited by local animal welfare laws.

Laymen and beginner snake keeper may ask: Why to feed with pre-killed when snakes capture live preys in the wild?

Reasons as follow:
1. Live preys can cause serious injuries and can even kill the snake when they are left alone together. A serious injury require much time neither, a rat can bite out the snakes' eye in a split of a second, when the prey is not caught properly.
2. A more effective, quicker, painless way of death is more humane for the prey as well, instead of spending minutes with being suffocated in the snakes' coils.
3. 99% of snakes will readily accept pre-killed preys in captivity and will not even notice that their prey is not alive anymore, grabing them just like they were live.
4. When it comes to feeding snakes in captive, it is false to argue the method of snakes preying in the wild. Preys and predators are not put together in limited speace (as they do in a cage) in the wild in the first place. The majority of snakes will also be preyed in the wild. Only few specimens will reach the adulthood and these will often suffer several injuires by that time.

A responsible snake keeper will not give an opprtunity for the prey animal to injure the snake. Much like one will not keep snakes under improper, extreme hot or cold temperatures, just because "it can happen in the wild, too". Or one will take his/her snake to the vet when it is ill, instead of doing nothing, because "only the strong survives in the wild". In the wild they may do, but once these snakes are in captive, the responsibility is all the keepers'.

I really hope that these few sentences will help beginners to learn and see: pre-killed prey is the way to go in captive.

dr. Botond Ádám

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