Euthanasia

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Postby catcov on Sun Oct 31, 2004 9:34 pm

Just have to point out, Amanda --- the second method is instant freezing which is classified with slow freezing as inhumane by many of the sites you quote. So it may be slightly better than what we are doing now but it is not really an alternative in terms of this discussion... :(

I know that the reptile vet that I go to uses freezing for euthanasia. I am afraid that I would want to see more credentials from the article writer before I believed her over my vet and his description of how the freezing process slows down cold-blooded animals.

Speaking of reptiles, I have to point out another method of euthanasia: predators. Not always available, probably not very humane, but natural.

The natural history museum method is to just drop the critter in alcohol for preservation, but I'm not a fan of that.

And then this is just my two cents -

The goal of euthanasia (in my opinion) is to stop an animal's suffering, so if I make the descision to euthanize, the animal is already obviously in pain. (Unlike some of the references, where researchers are putting down animals who are healthy, and thus risk creating pain where there is none.)

Putting it in the freezer, it has a few more hours of pain ahead of it; leaving it in a shallow bowl, it has days. Of those two options, freezer wins. :( I do not think that there is any painless way to die... pain is, after all, the body's defense against dying. There's even evidence that several seconds of awareness occur after beheading, and seperated lizard tails thrash for minutes. So I would not want to bet that a snail smashed with a rock is completely dead instantly. Simple organisms are hard to kill and I would hate to think that some part of the nervous system was still alive and screaming... with freezing I know that the entire nervous system has slowed down and stopped.

The reason that freezing is good for aquarists is simply that you cannot mess it up. Someone who tried to pith a frog without being confident in what they were doing would just give the animal a gruesome and drawn-out end. Someone who didn't mix strong enough chemicals would also end up torturing a critter to death, perhaps over a period of hours. Recommending freezing to aquarists as a means of euthanasia is largely to protect the dying animals from owners in my opinion. If a new method is devised it must be foolproofed before being promoted.
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Postby snailstreaks on Sun Oct 31, 2004 9:47 pm

Yikes... salt bath. :o :o Salting a snail or a slug is to literally make them implode. It sucks the moisture right out of their bodies... autoresponse is to release mucus... a lot of it... to the point of death.

I guess it would be like asking yourself if you would want to die by being submerged in acid.

As sick as it is... we had to make a similar decision with my lil sister. It is still up for debate. Do you fight to do all you can to keep them alive (and at what price?) They may be alive... but what kind of quality of life do they have? Or do you step aside... and leave it be... knowing that if nothing is done, they will pass in their sleep.
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Postby Acsuth on Sun Oct 31, 2004 9:50 pm

I agree with most of what you are saying...the part that I am strongly against is spreading around the myth that putting your snail in the freezer is some kind of painless favor. If you need to do it cause there is no alternative, I understand -- but sugarcoating the process for beginners is only going to make people comfortabley "freeze-happy".
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Postby snailstreaks on Sun Oct 31, 2004 9:52 pm

I agree.
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Postby Stijn on Sun Oct 31, 2004 11:23 pm

I think it very good that this subject is discussed. Killing your snail should, as others point out, only be the last resort. However, at times it's inevitable. I sometimes wish that snails had a 'switch-off' button, but unfortunately they don't...
I agree with Amanda that killing an animal should not be taken to light-hearted. A efficient and quick method often makes it easier to apply, but that should not make you do it more often than needed. And that gives mixed feelings about effecient methods. Will they lower the bar?
The bad thing is that there isn't much attention about how to euthanize snails in a humane manner. Those methods published are mainly focussed on preserving the snail well (the ethanol method). In that opinion, freezing isn't that popular as it destroys tissues if applied slowly and the snail's retraction movement damages the tissues when the fast methods is applied. As catcov explains, it's very hard to kill an animal painless and we need a efficient, easy to apply, yet as less painful method as possible.


My personal opinions and experiences:

1. refrigerator first, followed by freezer
Still my prefered methods until someone can show me a better one.
Easy to perform, no special equipment needed. Put the snail in a small box with water. That way you get equal freezing, you don't want an uneven process. It might be somewhat slow, but the nerve system of the snail slows down as well. Hopefully this implies less pain, but who can tell?

2. instant freezing
Effective, but only for small snails. Large snails simply do not freeze that fast. Also not practical if for most of us, as it's not common to have liquid nitrogen laying around.

3. Crushing
Very effective IF and only IF you have the guts, a steady hand or good equipment to give the blow and use large force. Downside a mess, and you should not miss or it get's worse.

4. Ethyl alcohol 5%
Tried this, as it's described in various scientific articles. However, it doesn't work well. The snail closes the operculum and there you are with a problem. You have to place a stick between that to 'hold' the snail open.... and then it still takes a long time for the snail to pass out.

5. Benzocaine, lidocaine or other anesthetics
I prefer this for fish, but it doesn't work well for snails. It looks like they can withstand this much longer and here again: the snails closes the door...

6. Barbiturate or other anesthetics
Ever tried to inject a snail? Really difficult, the snail will retract and it becomes a though job. You can of course drill a hole etc... but I would vote against that.

7. Salt bath
I never tried this, and I have the feeling that this is a bad method. Here again, the snail will close the shell and if you manage to overcome that, the snail will suffer a slow death. You can of course fasten it with a high concentration, but I wouldn't advice to take that route...

8. Microwaves
Very effective if you have a specialized microwave system. The common household microwave is NOT suited at all. You need a tremendous burst of waves that kill a snail in less then 200 milliseconds. However, I doubt that even then this is a safe way, as I won't be surprized if the snail explodes...

Despite the mixed feelings about some methods described here, I'm very happy that Amanda brought the subject to the table. We need to be aware of our responsabilities and it's very good to open in this. After all we can learn through this. It would also be very nice of veterineans could shine their light on the subject, or specialists in the field of anesthetics.
For now I personally prefer to stick to the two step freezing method, until e better methods is described. I think I'll ask our vet next time I see her, although I'm a bit afraid that she doesn't know a good method either.

I'm looking forward to hear other opinions on this matter. I'll make this topic 'sticky' so that it will stay on top of the list.
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Postby firefly on Mon Nov 01, 2004 4:22 am

I just now found this sobering topic, and it is interesting. A lot of it comes down to whether one would rahter endure a few seconds of agony followed by immediate death or a few hours/days of horrible pain (but not agony) followed by death. If there is a painless way to euthanize an animal, then I think that would be the most humane option (provided of course there is a good reason to euthanize--ie. the animal is suffering greatly from some ailment that will kill it). Fortunately I've never had to euthanize a snail, and I don't honestly know what method I would use if it ever came to that. Even lethal injections given to human criminals are not painless. We make them painless because we sedate the person and give them painkillers before the lethal part, but if they were given just the lethal part it would be quite painful.

THis topic though reminded me of an incident I had with a salamander when I was young. I got to keep the class salamander at the end of the school year when I was in Kindergarten. She was very cool and named Sally. We fed her worms from the garden, and I'd have to go dig each morning in the garden to find tiny baby worms to feed her. (o.k., so mom dug much more than I did I'm sure). Well, when winter came, we could not dig up worms any more as the ground was frozen. My mom called the kindergarten teacher and the local pet store to get advice on what to do. (this was of course well before the internet existed, computers were in their infancy). She was advised that she could put sally in the freezer and she would die without pain and then we could dispose of her, so that is what we did. At the time, I accepted it. Sally would have died if we didn't feed her. Now, of course, I know that we sell red wigglers at our pet store, and meal worms and all kinds of other stuff (Sally must not have been too healthy just eating red wigglers) and we could have bought food for her. (this also probably would have been easier than digging in the garden every morning). OF course, maybe this was before pet stores sold worms--I can't imagine the pet store advising us to kill our salamander rather than buying food from them. I don't agree with killing a healthy animal, and surely we could have found a science center or zoo that could have cared for sally? I know my mom didn't mean to be cruel--she did what the pet store advised etc. etc. and would have gladly bought worms from them from day one rather than dig them up if she could have (or knew she could have).

At any rate this will always be a touchy subject (and I think it should be--if people don't feel uncomfortable about it something isnt' qutie right). However, I am glad to have opinions of trusted people so that I will be able to make an informed decision if one of my beloved snails ever needs me to end their suffering. Hopefully it will never come to that--either they will live forever :wink: , or will pass in their sleep when they are very old.

Emily
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Postby Gastro on Mon Nov 01, 2004 11:07 pm

A freshwater organism will be sucked dry in saltwater, like a rasin. How is that any less humane than freezing?

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Postby Acsuth on Mon Nov 01, 2004 11:10 pm

Gastro wrote:A freshwater organism will be sucked dry in saltwater, like a rasin. How is that any less humane than freezing?

Andrew


many of us in this discussion have all pretty much agreed that none of these methods are 100% humane....at least with the 29 degree F saltwater the snail would be killed relatively quickly...though the method may work better for small fish...I haven't tried it.
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Postby Guest on Tue Nov 02, 2004 3:27 pm

My opinion is, if a human puts an animal to death w/ the "intent" of ending it's suffering, then it's humane. Random killing of anything for fun isn't!

I think we put water in a box in an attempt to mimick "mother nature". We can never succeed, mom won't fit in a box! But it's fun to try :)

Personally, I try let mom do the hard work in her own time and ways as much as possible. But, times come when I must "do" something to maintain the delicate balance I've recreated. Then I do what must be done, knowing there is no life w/o death.

Since, I'm more of a farmer than a pet owner. I may view things differently than most of the members here. I also hunt and fish. If it puts anyone's mind at ease, I respect ALL life. I never kill anything I'm not going to eat, unless I have to. I think I know when that is.
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Postby nannasmom on Tue Nov 02, 2004 4:05 pm

If I have a snail that is obviously suffering (things such as mantle collapse - which I've only seen 3 times in my own tanks and hope not to see too many times), I use the freezing method. I refrigerate first as described here on the site, then freeze. I don't save the shells. I really don't like having empty shells around. It only reminds me of some of the LFS's I've seen with a bunch of empty shells in their tanks. Too sad. I double bag the entire snail with the shell and dispose of it in our trash (which is picked up weekly). I've only had to do this 3 times, like I said. It's no fun. Especially when you've named the snail (that's only happened to me once as I'm not in the habit of naming these little fella's since I'm probably going to sell them eventually). Another note, the reason I think I've not seen this too often in my tanks is that I don't keep mature snails. After my breeders lay eggs for several weeks, I sell them or give them away for shipping cost. I don't keep very mature snails. I go on with the next generation. I know that's a "cop-out", but it's my "cop-out" and I think I'll keep it. :D Nothing smells worse than a dead snail ... unless you count well-baked armadillo carcasses you see along the road ... :err:
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Postby rosie on Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:26 pm

:cry: darn.... I put my snail streight in the freezer without any water, probably shoulda done the fridge first.

Anyway, to clear up something about freezing.... it is not torture for warm blooded animals any more than it is for cold blooded animals. A person with hypothermia feels warm.... Someone who's out in the cold will likely take off their warm clothes and die happy. Maybe this isn't that relevant, but I heard someone say it was painfull for warm blooded animals. For people, it's probably the most painless natural way to die.
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Postby Gastro on Tue Nov 02, 2004 11:53 pm

In a study about how humans react to falling off a cliff (c.1800), they found that in most cases of survivors, they felt nothing upon impact and only heard a tremendous crash.

Andrew
"Candy-striped tree snails hung like grapes from the trunks and branches."

E.O. Wilson, 1994

Liquid Land by Ted Levin, pg 60
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Postby snailstreaks on Wed Nov 03, 2004 7:35 am

In the case where you see "the end" coming... or something about to inflict a lot of pain... endophins kick in... big time.

I was attacked by a hybrid wolf. It jumped up... chomped on my arm which I used to protect myself. I never felt it. It was all so clear at that moment... Someone mentioned that you kick the dog in the belly.... so I did. That crappy morning I tested that theory twice. I kicked it off... he attacked again... I kicked him off again... he attacked again. A little black female stray we found and adopted, and the world's dumbest boxer came to my rescue.

Anyways.... I can't say I felt anything when it happened... but then again I saw it coming. Both of my arms got bit well enough where I had to get several stitches in both arms, and still have no feeling in some areas. (That was 11 years ago.)

It is afterwards you feel the damage... not during.
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Postby Gastro on Thu Nov 04, 2004 12:07 am

Did any of you here about that mountain climber who cut his hand off when it got stuck under a boulder?

Andrew
"Candy-striped tree snails hung like grapes from the trunks and branches."

E.O. Wilson, 1994

Liquid Land by Ted Levin, pg 60
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Postby SnaiLuv81 on Thu Nov 04, 2004 5:58 am

Yeah, I did! He cut it off with a pocketknife, and broke the bone himself to get free. He seemed kinda dumb, though. High pain threshold, but dumb.
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