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In lines with this question: Would questions on keeping a colony of ants be on topic here?

The discussion brought up the topic of raising feeder animals, and that they seem to be on the border of what we would consider on-topic here.

  1. They could potentially be off-topic because it's about farming an animal, even if it is to feed to a pet.

  2. They could be potentially on-topic, because feeding a pet is one of the most basic requirements for it's care. How to keep the food alive could then be considered a part of pet care.

I personally think that questions on raising feeder animals should be on-topic because it's a part of caring for a pet. The more exotic a pet is, the less likely it is to have commercial diet options available. To me it's a process that's similar to making your own dog or cat food.

The problem is, that this is about keeping other animals alive, up until the point that they are being fed to the pet. This can be a controversial subject when the animal that's being fed is a mammal.

With this in mind, I think we could benefit from having a discussion now, rather than having a heated discussion involving someone who asked a question with good intentions.


The fact of the matter is, mice and rats are fed to snakes. There is really no other option. They cannot chew anything so a commercial snake food isn't an option, they're biologically designed to swallow prey whole.

For the most part, snakes that are kept as pets can survive off of mice and/or rats, and it is generally not recommended that they are fed to the snake while still alive.

But..

  • That doesn't necessarily mean that people won't want keep a colony of feeder mice or rats.
  • There are people who keep snakes that are too large to survive off of rats. The most common feeder animal above a rat are rabbits, small fowl, and guinea pigs.

If we do allow questions on keeping feeder animals, then where do we draw the line on what can and cannot be kept in order to feed to another animal? Do we draw a line?

If we don't allow questions on keeping feeder animals, then how do we handle questions on gut-loading insects?

  • Disclaimer: I tried to keep my personal biases and opinions out of this question as much as I could, but I'm sure some leaked through. – Spidercat Jul 25 '14 at 16:08
  • my short answer - Gut loading insects is a different subject (but in scope), questions about raising mammals are in scope, if there is mention in the question about it being for rasied for feeding, remove the reference, it is immaterial. I believe there was a similar solution on an earlier meta question about culling breeders stock, or something like that. – James Jenkins Jul 25 '14 at 16:24
  • I don't think my question on breeding crickets fits into that. But if that's the answer, I could sure put some work into making that question fit. – Spidercat Jul 25 '14 at 17:39
  • Some minor edits to the cricket question to remove references to feeding, should do it. The rational is implied, but not offensively present in the answer, so no changes there. – James Jenkins Jul 25 '14 at 17:47
  • @JamesJenkins I'm unclear; are you suggesting all breeder animal questions should be posed as if they're not being bred for food? – starsplusplus Jul 25 '14 at 23:20
  • @JamesJenkins Sorry, that was a typo. I actually meant feeder animals. – starsplusplus Jul 26 '14 at 0:56
  • @starsplusplus Same logic applies. – James Jenkins Jul 26 '14 at 9:39
  • Well then I think you should post it as an answer so it is subject to voting. I can't think of a context where it would matter if the animals are just being slaughtered, as that answer seems to answer; but for feeder animals for another pet the context will sometimes be relevant - both gutloading and dusting spring to mind. – starsplusplus Jul 26 '14 at 11:04
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    @starsplusplus Am I quick or what, less than a minute between your request and my answer being posted! – James Jenkins Jul 26 '14 at 11:06
  • @JamesJenkins Fastest typing I've ever seen! – starsplusplus Jul 26 '14 at 11:13
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There are two topics here.

  • Gut loading live insects to be feed.
  • Raising a living being to feed to another living being.

Addressing the first, as you mention in your question with some exotic pets there are no commercial prepared foods available, the health of the pet requires the insects be delivered with specific nutrients inside of the body of the insect being feed.

Questions regarding how and what to load in the insects gut, are on topic. There are no alternatives, and the requirements are based on the needs of the animal that will be consuming the insect.

Culturally the majority of the visitors to pets, are not expecting insects to have long healthy lives, in someones house. This part of the answer my answer is supported by the main site question Is it possible to breed crickets for food? Currently posted for 6 months with no negative comments or votes. Conclusion this is acceptable and in scope on the Pets site.

Addressing the second There are two earlier meta discussions relative to this: Is there a distinction between questions on pets, and questions about professional/amateur breeding of pet animals for show or sale? & Should we exclude breeders of animals where 'cull' does not equal adopt as an industry standard?, where two important points are covered

  1. Keep the scope wide enough to draw a sufficient body of visitor to keep the site viable.
  2. Not offending the culturally sensitivities of the majority visitors.

Prevailing culture puts the lives and sentience of insects and mammals (& marsupials) in different categories, with fish and reptiles someplace between these two. The majority of humans currently apply little value to the lives of individual insects, they are not considered to be self-aware and their untimely death by any means is not offensive to most.

Anything with fur on the other hand, is protected by the culturally expectations of the community who house, protect and form emotional bonds with pets. These are our community of visitors. Most people realize that necessities of life require the death of one living thing to support the life of other living things, but they prefer that it occurs off camera.

This is a site for pets parents, specifically excluding farming and production animals. It was decided that killing healthy animals will almost certainly detract from the quality of our content, and should be removed via edits and deletions. Questions specifically about killing healthy animals should not be considered on topic. (excluding euthanasia). But we have also decided to allow questions about animals care like lab animals where the goal is not companionship, but the question is about providing the best care for a living being.

In summary: If the animal is a potential pet species, questions that would benefit pet owner are in scope regardless of the motivation of the question poster. All posts are user contributions licensed under cc by-sa 3.0 so the question does not need to remain in its original form, and can be edited to meet the needs of the broadest audience; the broadest audience (for Pets.se) does not include the untimely death of pets. If removing references to an untimely death of potential pet species animal (excluding euthanasia) leaves a viable question, it is in scope; if it does not leave a viable question, it is out of scope. The presumption being that an animal being raised is given the highest level of care and considerations regardless of how long it will live.

Follow-up The question Is it possible to gut-load a mouse? has been posted to test the scope of raising mammals and feeding questions specifically to feed the Mammal being fed to reptile pets.

  • I think you've answered each question well, but as I see it Matt's question was about how to know where to draw the line for any potentially conflicting questions we get. Unfortunately, I don't think this answer helps us extrapolate at present. – starsplusplus Jul 26 '14 at 11:17
  • For example, in the first half, does your answer scope only questions specifically about gutloading? All questions about feeder insects? Something in between? – starsplusplus Jul 26 '14 at 11:19
  • @starsplusplus I am not seeing what you think I missed. Does this sentence near the end address your point? "If removing references to an untimely death of potential pet species animal (excluding euthanasia) leaves a viable question, it is in scope; if it does not leave a viable question, it is out of scope."* – James Jenkins Jul 26 '14 at 11:34
  • Was that meant to apply to all of it? I assumed it was only meant to apply to the "second". If all of it, how does it not make gutloading questions off topic? – starsplusplus Jul 26 '14 at 11:36
  • "Prevailing culture puts the lives and sentience of insects and mammals (& marsupials) in different categories," in other words insects are not "potential pet species" (culturally) so anything not blatantly inhumane is probably in scope. Keeping meta.pets.stackexchange.com/questions/1845 in mind which allows insects to be treated as pets if someone wants to ask about their care. – James Jenkins Jul 26 '14 at 11:40
  • Ah, so the primary criterion is the species. That makes the rest of your answer easier to follow. Thanks. – starsplusplus Jul 26 '14 at 11:45
  • I think this covers most of it, but I would extend the first past insects. I would expect a question like: "Is it possible to gut-load a mouse?" to be on-topic as well. – Spidercat Jul 26 '14 at 13:19
  • @MattS. I am not sure we have enough experience to summarize the community response to gut-loading a mouse. If there is a scenario where this is required (not just convenient), can you post a question? Once we see how it is received, we can summarize the community response. – James Jenkins Jul 27 '14 at 12:30
  • @JamesJenkins pets.stackexchange.com/q/1691/481 – Spidercat Jul 27 '14 at 15:50

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