Euthanization Question + A Little Story

What is the most humane method of invertebrate euthanization?

  • A swift blow or stomp is the most humane

    Votes: 23 50.0%
  • A few minutes in the freezer is a more peaceful way to go

    Votes: 20 43.5%
  • Euthanization is never humane

    Votes: 3 6.5%

  • Total voters
    46

kellygirl

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Sep 1, 2002
Messages
1,056
Ok, so this past week would definitely make the Top 5 Worst Weeks of My Life... on top of personal crap including having my much needed weeklong trip to the beach by myself cancelled due to bad weather, I have lost a whopping total of FOUR tarantulas--2 adults, 1 juvenile, and a spiderling. Most of you know about the T. blondi passing away last Monday. She had been sick for awhile but it was still heart-wrenching to see that beautiful monster all curled up. Then, a day later, I found one of my tiny A. avicularia spiderlings curled up--dead for no apparent reason, just dead. A few days later, someone sent me a couple of spiders to cheer me up. One of them was a beautiful A. chalcodes juvenile--I'd never seen one of these before as the only Aphonopelma I've got is A. moderatum, but WOW, this is a beautiful species! Well I only got to enjoy her for a few hours because when I opened the container up, there were two puddles of brown goop and her mouth was filled with more of it. She must have taken a blow during the shipping. I spent most of the day trying to nurse her back to health but she was dead by that night. :(

And here's the part that relates to the title:
As if that wasn't horrible enough, my boyfriend's first and only tarantula, an adult female E. murinus, got the white mouth gunk a couple days ago. I got lots of advice, information, and feedback via PM and IM from a few knowledgeable people on this board and was forced to come to grips with the fact that her death was pretty much inevitable. Shaun and I opted to wait another day and try to feed her one more time. So yesterday, when Shaun was at work, I tried to feed her. No interest in the crickets whatsoever... and she was quite weak at this point. She let me pick her up without a fight and I flipped her over, no problem. She was curled up on her back in my hand but still alive. So I got a Qtip to swab her fangs with and try to get a hold of the gunk to look at it under a microscope. As I was swabbing, a tiny worm came out of her mouth (this chokes me up even to type it...). I, of course, immediately started crying and Shaun's brother came in the room to see what was up. I told him that we had to kill the spider. I put her in a plastic bag and opened up the freezer--it wasn't very cold at all and I was worried that it would take too long to kill her that way. Some of my friends had suggested a "more humane" way of euthanization--a swift blow or stomping. I just couldn't do it and since Shaun was at work (and good thing, he is torn up over this thing...), his brother offered to do it. I went back to Shaun's room while his brother went outside and killed the spider. I had asked him, before he went outside, to please not show me the spider afterwards. A few minutes later, I came out to the living room to ask Wayne how it went and he was sitting there holding the bag up, staring at it. It was quite possibly the most horrible sight I've ever seen. A formerly beautiful spider--literally smashed to pieces. I won't even get into details, but it really was terrible. So I cried some more. And I really don't think he meant to, but then Shaun's brother started laughing. I think he had been trying to hold it in so it all came out at once. He's never been able to understand why I love the spiders so much but still.... that was pretty awful, in my opinion... so I just cried some more, took the bag from him, and threw it away. The whole ordeal was very traumatic for me.... and then I had to tell Shaun about it when he got home from work. He's so upset about losing her, he won't even talk about it.

So after recounting my horror story... my question is this: what is the *most* humane method of euthanization? Is there any proof that freezing is painful to the spider? If there is no research concerning this, should we assume that it could be painful for them and therefore opt for the squishing method?

All I know is that having 3 spiders die on me prior to this and then having to go through a messy euthanization was extremely painful for me. Obviously, I don't want the spider to experience any unnecessary pain but is there another way that might be less awful for the owners? I certainly couldn't let the worms slowly eat her from the inside out so euthanization was absolutely necessary in this situation. When is it right or wrong to euthanize a spider (I think it is totally different from euthanizing a cat or dog because we know more about how to make said pets 'comfortable' longer than we know how to do the same for inverts)?

And lastly........ please share any positive stories you have from this week to counter my painful week. Any new eggsac developments or breeding successes? A positive ID for an unknown spider? Anything, really..... Just something to put a much-needed smile on my face would be welcomed. :(

kellygirl
 

Code Monkey

Arachnoemperor
Old Timer
Joined
Jul 22, 2002
Messages
3,786
Assuming we mean humane to be defined "as swift and painlessly as possible", the swift whack is by far the best method. Of course, as emotional beings, we often have a hard time in differentiating between humane and aesthetic. Furthermore, this blurring of definitions becomes personalised when it's a creature you have some personal attachment to.

The freezer method then becomes the preferred method for many because it hits that sweet spot: aesthetic, painless, and probably stress free.

And then there's me who generally lets inverts die on their own because I don't believe that something as primal as a tarantula really gives a crap about having its possible suffering terminated humanely.

With an emotional creature such as a mammal or one of the more intelligent birds, euthanasia is a real issue. With Ts, I think it's purely comfort for the more emotional owners so I would urge you to do what makes you comfortable in the future if you find whacking or letting them waste away to be too distasteful.
 

MrT

Arachnoking
Old Timer
Joined
Aug 13, 2002
Messages
2,174
Kellygirl,
Its always sad to lose a pet. I'm having to put down my beloved Boxer Shazi this week. She's 13 and can't walk or see anymore.
I've been trying to come to grips with this for some time now.
I hate the fact that I have to get her a shot to put her down, cause I don't think its all that humane. I think she'll wonder why I doing this to her.
So, back to your question. I think ths stomping method is the quickest and surest way to end a suffering Tarantula's life.
Its not pretty to see, so I'd do it in a brown paper bag. Then just put it in the trash can.
My mother always said, " you get a pet, you set yourself up for heartbreak", and boy was she right..

Ernie
 

genious_gr

Arachnoangel
Old Timer
Joined
Jan 23, 2003
Messages
955
Tarantulas are just like human relationships, it takes a new one to overcome an old one. Go get yourself a few new T's, I'm sure you'll feel a lot better.
 

kellygirl

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Sep 1, 2002
Messages
1,056
Code: That does make sense but at the same time, I don't want to risk causing unnecessary trauma to the spider, even if it is only moments before death. Do you know of any research done on whether tarantulas experience pain? If their most heightened sense is touch, then is it possible that they could feel a higher degree of pain than we might experience? I would think that there would be a difference in a tarantula's "concept" of pain because human's usually have other "feelings" associated with pain such as anger or frustration. I think I'm headed on a tangent, as usual, here....

MrT: I'm really sorry to hear that. I don't think I have the words to comfort you with other than I know how you're feeling...

genious: I was thinking about getting another E. murinus for Shaun. I think I'll hold off on getting another T. blondi though...

kellygirl
 

TheDon

ArachnoDon
Old Timer
Joined
Apr 19, 2003
Messages
836
I must say that this post literally made me shed tears and let me just say that it takes alot for that to happen. I didnt even cry at any funerals i have been at... truly a sad moment for you and I know how I would feel if i was in the same position. Maybe all of your T's died from the same thing? maybe they all got infected with those worms and with the younger T it was just too little to fight back so it didnt last very long. Anyways very sad, and i feel for you. I dont necessarily agree with "if you get more T's you will feel better" I remember my sister had a little teddy bear hamster that had tombers all over its body so my mom and I took it to the vet and had it put down, what an awful sight it was. And when we got home all my sister cared about was the new hamster she was getting... in a way it kinda made me sick. It was awful having to watch the little hamster slowly lose the use of its legs then stop moving and then after about 10 mins it stopped breathing. Yes it is nice getting new T's but dont get them just to fill the gap, I dont think it will stop the pain of losing your pet. just my 2 cents. anyways im rambling so im gonna stop plus it is making me somewhat upset... so

peace

TheDon

and Genious_Gr im not trying to say what you said is wrong, but I dont think if i lost a close friend then went out and got a new friend. I dont think that would make me feel much better about losing someone close to me. Anyways not trying to offend so sorry if I did
 
Last edited:

Phillip

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Aug 19, 2002
Messages
1,328
Why do we assume.....

The freezer is painless? How exactly do we know this? Sorry but despite seeing this train of thought repeated over and over I still fail to see how we supposedly know that this is indeed painless.

Personally I feel that the swift stomp ( nasty as it may seem ) is going to be far more instantaneous and therefore more painless than the freezer method. I do however agree with CM on one point in that I always let mine die on their own but the reason is different. In my case I'm giving them every chance to come back around.

Phil
 

pixi14369

Arachnosquire
Old Timer
Joined
Apr 21, 2003
Messages
94
Well, think of it this way....if you stomp on it you will definatley kill it, but it's extremely hard to do, especially if you have to clean up the mess....But if you think of what happens when a person freezes to death, you will see that the freezer is the most humane way....at first yes you are cold, you become drowsy, lethargic, and numb....eventually within 30 minutes (depending on temp.) you will just fall asleep....your brain will shut down before you would even come close to suffering..
 

RugbyDave

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Apr 5, 2003
Messages
1,428
i dont do the freezer or the stomp. We don't know that the freezer is any more easier -- maybe for US it is, but who knows if they have some very low threshold for cold.... i don't know, the point is, who can say if the freezer really is the easiest. I'd agree in saying its probably the easiest on us -- put it in as its alive, take it out as its dead... no stomping, no cleaning, no worrying about where to place your heel...

For me, It's au naturel for them....i can't place my own thoughts and fears and wants onto them. i mean, i'm cool if other people do that, but a good point is, you never know what a T's going to do....

but even if it IS on the brink of death, i leave it be, and let it happen as it does out in nature...with dogs and horses and the like, then its a different story. I think CM said it the best... it does become more of an issue with the more 'obviously emotional' animals...

I guess it all depends on your own views of what a T can feel, right?

as for the worm in the mouth -- man... thats rough, but at least we really know thats what that means (not that there was any question really)...

communal worms? Are the T's near each other? it can def. be transmitted, i know that...

my condolences of course
dave
 
Last edited:

Code Monkey

Arachnoemperor
Old Timer
Joined
Jul 22, 2002
Messages
3,786
Re: Why do we assume.....

Originally posted by Phillip
I do however agree with CM on one point in that I always let mine die on their own but the reason is different. In my case I'm giving them every chance to come back around.
This is part of my reasoning as well, but I allow it because I'm comfortable knowing that even though the odds look extreme, I'm not causing pain and suffering to an intelligent, emotional creature. When it comes to my mammalian buddies, my selfish urge to want to see them pull through at any cost is tempered by the intellectual knowledge that it's almost certainly not going to happen, but prolonged pain and discomfort IS unless I take action.
 

belewfripp

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
Joined
Aug 17, 2002
Messages
345
I disagree that the freezer is the most humane method; while for an endotherm it probably is quicker than for something like a human, it would also be true, I would think, that they would feel it more acutely, given that their entire system is pretty much freezing up in sync with the temp. Most humane is probably the smash/stomp; I couldn't/wouldn't do it, though. I do whatever I can for them, if they die, they die naturally, and not because I gave up on them (which, btw, is not meant as some kind of accusation of those who have euthanised).

Also, regarding the freezer, I, being the sap that I am, can't really stand to do unpleasant things to crickets while they are still alive, so I will freeze them before removing heads, gutting them open, ripping off legs, etc (note that I have no problem banging a rat against a countertop and feeding it to a snake; funny how that works). I once froze a cricket for about half an ahour, then pulled the cricket out, gutted it, and tossed it into the tank of a spider that was showing signs of fang difficulties (turns out she just wasn't hungry but anyway) and 2 hours later I come back and find the damn thing hopping around the tank. So it is not like it is a quick 5-10 minutes and your spider is dead, it probably takes at least a half hour.

Adrian
 

kellygirl

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Sep 1, 2002
Messages
1,056
TheDon: Thank you for your empathy. Very sweet. :) They did not all die of the same thing, though. The 2 sick ones had very different symptoms and had never even been in the same room together. The E. murinus stays at Shaun's apartment so it wouldn't be possible for the A. avicularia to get the nematodes from it. And the A. chalcodes was never sick, it just got injured. I don't think you said anything offensive either--I agreed with much of what you said. I'm sorry to hear about the hamster... :(

Phillip: Yeah, the more I think about it, seems like it'd be better to "inconvenience" myself JUST IN CASE the tarantula can feel pain.

pixi: I don't know if that's exactly how it works... I thought someone found out that reptiles go through a lot of pain if they are euthanized via freezing. And I don't know about you, but cold weather hurts me--hence why I'm a beach chick! ;)

Rugby: Nope, the tarantula that had the worms was not around the others, thankfully.

Belewfripp: Hm, I wonder why it is that I don't have a problem hurting crickets? I figure I'll do it quickly and if I don't do a good enough job, the tarantula will finish it off quickly without prolonged pain. Then again, I show crickets little mercy as I have lost spiderlings to those little demon spawn! :mad:

Re: "natural death"
Obviously there was nothing I could do about the spiderling because by the time I found, it was already dead. As for the T. blondi and the A. chalcodes--I did all I could and they died natural deaths. Shaun and I tried to give the E. murinus a chance to pull through but as soon as I saw that worm, I knew it was way too late. Since it is a pet and in human care, I would think that it was best for us to end it's life so it did not have to suffer through worms eating through it or starving to death. Even for people who prefer the "natural death," I would think this might be an exception... or maybe not?

kellygirl
 

belewfripp

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
Joined
Aug 17, 2002
Messages
345
I don't want to give the impression that I leave them sitting around until they die, I try to do things to help them out, whether it be makeshift medication or whatever. Your E. murinus was probably a lost cause, but had it been mine, I still probably would not have euthanised, which may be good or not good depending on your point of view.

Adrian
 

belewfripp

Arachnobaron
Old Timer
Joined
Aug 17, 2002
Messages
345
Originally posted by kellygirl


Belewfripp: Hm, I wonder why it is that I don't have a problem hurting crickets? I figure I'll do it quickly and if I don't do a good enough job, the tarantula will finish it off quickly without prolonged pain. Then again, I show crickets little mercy as I have lost spiderlings to those little demon spawn! :mad:

Which is why I always freeze the crickets and then break them into bite-size pieces to feed my slings. I'm too good at killing slings myself, I don't need any help from crickets.

Adrian
 

kellygirl

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Sep 1, 2002
Messages
1,056
Originally posted by belewfripp
Which is why I always freeze the crickets and then break them into bite-size pieces to feed my slings. I'm too good at killing slings myself, I don't need any help from crickets.

Adrian

Yeah..... learned that one the hard way... :(

kellygirl
 

Buspirone

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Mar 10, 2003
Messages
1,064
There are some people on the ATS_group who are starting a project to collect samples from sick Ts to classify what kind of nematode(s) are killing off tarantulas and then hopefully in the future find a treatment or preventative. My rosie has just started foaming at the mouth after meals(thick white paste,its not digestive fluid) but she is still eating and appears healthy so far. They are sending me a kit to take samples of the paste and of the stools for examination. I think in the near future they may post a request here for participants in their study when things are in full swing. I know its not going save my T if it has a nematode infection but it might help any spiders I get in the future.
 

kellygirl

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Sep 1, 2002
Messages
1,056
Originally posted by Buspirone
There are some people on the ATS_group who are starting a project to collect samples from sick Ts to classify what kind of nematode(s) are killing off tarantulas and then hopefully in the future find a treatment or preventative. My rosie has just started foaming at the mouth after meals(thick white paste,its not digestive fluid) but she is still eating and appears healthy so far. They are sending me a kit to take samples of the paste and of the stools for examination. I think in the near future they may post a request here for participants in their study when things are in full swing. I know its not going save my T if it has a nematode infection but it might help any spiders I get in the future.
Unfortunately....... the spider is in pieces now and sitting in the trash. I do have 2 other dead spiders in my freezer though...

kellygirl
 

Buspirone

Arachnoprince
Old Timer
Joined
Mar 10, 2003
Messages
1,064
Its just something to keep in mind. I think right now they are just interested in getting samples from living specimens and then they will perform disection on T's already in the study once they pass away or the owners decide to euthanize but I'm not 100% clear on all the details. If bodisky is reading this maybe she can elaborate more than I can.
 

LunarFaery

ArachnoDiva
Old Timer
Joined
Mar 20, 2003
Messages
88
Kellygirl, so sorry to hear about your spiders. That just stinks. :(

Since in my expirence things like that come in 3s you should be on the uphill side now :)

Jen
 
Top