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feeding insects to injured wildlife-karmic debt?

smudgesmudge Newaustralia New

HI, I have a huge dilemma which is causing my hubby and I considerable pain and consternation. Our home and yard have always been 'kill free' zones., our pets are always locked up at night to protect both them and the nocturnal wildlife, we never use insect sprays. We'll save a fly trapped in a web and carefully remove the web with tweezers. We humanely trap rats which get into our ceiling (we are rural) and place them away in a safe area. A problem has arisen where we have two injured animals-a baby water dragon which we saved literally from the jaws of death, (one of our cats) and the second a lovely little green tree frog. The lizard is a hatchling and is now doing well as his wounds have healed. The frog was accidentally harmed when he got himself underneath our car. His back leg is quite badly damaged and we feel some responsibility. Now the dilemma comes from the need to feed these animals LIVE insects. We have to some degree reconciled karmically with feeding the lizard, because the insects are simply placed in its aquarium, and it is left up to the little guy to catch its own food. But unfortunately, the frog was not eating, and if left, would have died. And so we have had to make a decision as to whether we had the right to intervene and save the frog- by force feeding it to save its life. It has been so hard, not to save the frog, but it meant that we had to either feed it the live insect, OR kill the insect immediately prior to giving it to the frog. I just could not feed a live insect to the frog so I left it to my hubby to kill some meal worms, and a cockroach yesterday, and I cried all day. I did manage to feed them to the frog, but have felt shattered over it. Now today we have to do it all over again. I am deeply troubled by having to choose between the lives of all these wonderful creatures we normally respect and cherish. Any helpful advice would be greatly appreciated. As a matter of note, a)frogs are carnivorous, they do not eat fruit/veg. Their prey must be alive. b)because the frogs do not always chew their food, we had read it is best to kill the insect prior to feeding as the stomach acid may be horrific for the insect swallowed alive. Help!


  • BunksBunks Veteran Australia Veteran

    Hi @smudge.

    Sorry if I sound flippant but I reckon you're over thinking this.

    You're obviously a sensitive soul but that is causing you far too much pain in what should be a simple case of making a decision and moving is far too short to stress over the life of a frog or insect.

    Whatever you do, say a quick little metta chant / recitation and move on. Seriously!

    Good luck.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran Veteran
    edited February 2017

    Hi @smudge,

    Have you built or provided a wheel chair for the frog? You could wheel him around a suitable catchment area, then he would be responsible for his meals. Or perhaps carry him to an insect rich environment. Perhaps he could be placed near webs where you have previously intervened and possibly caused karmic 'spider good will and ahimsa'? Perhaps a Jain forum could help?

    Be very interested in your solution. Good luck. <3

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    You cannot control how nature designed these animals to eat. If you are going to take on their care, then you need to duplicate their natural environment as much as possible. Another possible option is to find an animal rehabber who will get them well and then release them. They are able to do so without the animals becoming reliant on humans, whereas if you do so you might well end up with "pets" that cannot be released and you will forever be responsible for them. If you intend to keep them make sure you know what to expect when they are full grown as many species of water dragons can get quite large and they need very tall, vertical enclosures to be happy.

    Anyhow, whether they are in your care or in the wild, they will eat the same things. All we can do is our best, which you are already doing. Remember what makes sense in the natural world is not often the same thing that makes sense to our human emotions, and attempting to apply our emotions to a wild animal situation may not be the best thing for them. It's hard to know where that line is. So, we do our best.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @smudge I admire the sentiment and your dedication to non-violence... hugs and metta to you

  • FosdickFosdick in its eye are mirrored far off mountains Alaska, USA Veteran

    I cannot add a lot to what has been said, but just would like to consider the question of why we are advised by the precepts to avoid killing in the first place.

    It has seemed to me that a significant part of the reason is that thoughtless taking of life, whether careless or deliberate, enhances and solidifies our sense of possessing a solid, separate self, distinct and apart from other beings.

    Life feeds upon life, and our biological existence demands that we, also, feed upon life or die ourselves - but to do so needlessly, without thought, compassion, without sadness and without mindfulness is wrong action.

    On the other hand, to follow the precept rigidly and absolutely is not only impossible, but seems also to overlook the purpose and intent of that precept and doesn't seem to me to be mindful practice.

    I think Thich Nhat Hanh's book - Thundering Silence, the Sutra on Knowing the Better Way to Catch a Snake - might be relevant here - " ... how to see reality clearly without becoming stuck in notions and ideologies, however noble they may be."

  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    feeding insects to injured wildlife-karmic debt?

    It would seem that you are already experiencing a karmic debt of sorts....

    Avoid becoming an extremist ...

    @smudge what would you say is 'your' middle way ?

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