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do reptiles have feelings?

Discussion in 'General' started by Ryan, Apr 23, 2005.


do herps have feelings?

  1. Absolutely! what a dumb question!

    101 vote(s)
  2. Some might...

    18 vote(s)
  3. Never thought about it

    6 vote(s)
  4. No

    9 vote(s)
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  1. Dee

    Dee Elite Member

    I do believe they have feelings... feelings are tied up with instincts, and we know they have those. Adaptation requires them to become accustomed to us, and when you become accustomed to something, you will usually grow an attachment to it... if you're attached to something, don't you feel some emotion for it? ;) Besides, when you have something as small and sweet as an AFT gecko climb up on your hand when it's offered, snuggle down on you, close its eyes, and stretch up under a little head rub, it looks too cozy and satisfied to say it doesn't have feelings.
  2. LdyDrgn

    LdyDrgn Member

    Feelings, no... A reptile does not have the ability to become attached in such a way. If that animal were let outside, it would take off into the trees, bushes, water, whatever, to be free and it wouldn't come back when you called it. I'm sure it's possible to train some reptiles such as monitors and crocodilians to return to you when you call, but food would the incentive, not devotion.

    They feel pain and pleasure, but not things like love, sadness, depression, etc. Their cerebral cortex just isn't developed for it.
  3. Brittone05

    Brittone05 Elite Member

    LdyDrgn. The running off thing you talk about is known as the fight or flight relex. It is inbuilt into every species be it human, erp or fluffy bunny! I agree that food is the general motivation for an animal to return to a call but a lot of the time it is more than that. Most creatures have an inner knowledge of where they came from and to a lizard if it's from the forest and they see a tree then their relfex action is to do what they know how - climb the tree. I do generally beleive that herps have feelings, more than just pain and pleasure. It is also not just down to them being well trained so they let you have contact with them. To socialise in an environment that is alien to us involves feelings and an element of personality traits. On a less serious note tho - I do call my lizads my babies and run around like a lunatic shouting when they do cute stuff!!! If I didn't think they had feelings and enjoyed being with me then it would be pointless caring for them. :)
  4. LdyDrgn

    LdyDrgn Member

    So... something has to be able to return the emotion in order for you to care for it, otherwise it's pointless? What about arachnids? Or fish? Or plants!! These are even less able to show any type of emotion, so is it pointless for people to care about them? I've known people that talk to and sing to their plants as if they were children, lol.

    What you are doing is known as "anthropomorphism". You are applying human emotions to something that does not have the ability to have them itself.

    As far being able to interact with many reptiles in captivity, it's called tolerance and it is learned. When they are babies they do everything they can in their power to intimidate you to leave them alone: hiss, bite, musk. When they are a bit older they learn that you are not a threat and therefore tolerate the handling. Granted, I have had snakes that would come out of their enclosures to climb all over me but I didn't see that as "he loves me" but as "he thinks I make a great tree". When other people hold my snakes and they make an effort to get back to me, again, it's not love but security. They know my scent, know I'm safe, so they get back to me and away from the strange smell that is handling them should it turn out to be a threat.

    We've had one escape, and he's never returned. I guess he didn't love us...

    It would be nice if they had the ability to love us back. But they just don't have the brain development to do so.
  5. allie&shadwell

    allie&shadwell Elite Member

    Oh, yes, I am new in the world of lizards, but I definitely think that my lizard friend has feelings, and the rest of my family would agree with me. For one thing, she trusts me. When I reach into her terrarium, 90% of the time she will sit still and wait for me to pick her up, as I speak softly to her while I do so, and she undoubtedly enjoys being handled by me. Anyone else who tries to handle her first has to chase her around the terrarium and then ends up holding a squirming, uncomfortable lizard. Dream loves to have her head stroked and her belly stroked and she leans her head way back and has a pose of bliss on her face not unlike a human being having a full-body massage. And Dream has certainly expressed many other emotions...from anger, to pleasure, to surprise. I can't believe that they would do anything diffferent. :)
  6. Brittone05

    Brittone05 Elite Member

    I wans'nt implying that it is pointless having plants, fish etc due to the lack of interaction, I was merely stating my opinion about how I feel towards my animals. If I didn't think they felt some for of trusting bond with me, I wouldn't keep them which is the exact reason I chose to rehome Godz. I cannot even pronounce anthropomorphism but I fully understand that herps do not have human emotions - they are not human! (although I don't think it has ever been proven that species other than humans are not capable of having feelings just like we do) And while I appreciate that animals kept in captivity establish a trust towards their keepers I actually believe that as trust is an emotive feeling then our herps must have feelings. I personally feel that I have a good bond with my lizards - not just because I feed them and clean their poop, but because they have built up a range of feelings during their captive lives - but that is just my opinion. I wasn't having a pop at your opinion (which you are fully entitled to voice) merely stating how I feel about the reltaionship that I have with my babies.
  7. LdyDrgn

    LdyDrgn Member

    Don't get me wrong, all of our reptiles and amphibs are our babies, too. I even talk to them even though the snakes don't really hear me, lol. They all have their own personalities as well. Many of them trust us. I just don't feel that trust is necessarily an emotion when it comes to them. We also have a few that no matter how much we love them and show them we are not a threat they refuse to tolerate handling or any other interaction. Our Ornate Nile monitor is like that, but then most Niles are... they are are known to be iracsible and don't "tame down" easily. I call her ungrateful, rofl.

    And you are right, we are all entitled to our opinions. ;)
  8. Sean Boyd

    Sean Boyd Elite Member

    What do u mean! Reptiles have as much feelings as people!
  9. Typhanie

    Typhanie Elite Member

    Wow. This subject has been around for awhile. But it popped up on my "new posts" list, so I thought I'd add my thoughts.

    I voted "No" in the poll, because I don't think reptiles strictly have emotions. The first definition of emotion on is: an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness.

    The key words there are cognitive and volitional. An emotion is a reaction, a gut reaction you might say. But to recogonize a reaction as an emotion, you have to be able to seperate it from the cognitive (thinking) and volitional (willing/choosing) parts of one's consciousness. Reptiles don't have this thinking process. They don't sit and think a matter out and make a decision that they will go lie in the sun instead of hunt. What they do is instinctual. When they're hungry, they go find food. When they're tired, they rest. Their reactions to things are similarly instinctual. They are programmed to fight or flee if something bigger attacks them, or to relax when sunning on a warm rock.

    Anger, fear and happiness are expressions that we give them to help ourselves understand their conditioned responses and respond in turn.

    So, strictly speaking, they don't have emotions.

    That said, call it what you like, I have seen reptiles who are sweet and gentle with one person, consistantly turn into a raging beast with another. I've also seen them change their behavior when I was particularly sad or upset, and become agitated when their routine was changed.
  10. Reptile Freak

    Reptile Freak Elite Member

    Sure they do.
    I agree with Sean Boyd.
  11. kremlinator

    kremlinator Banned User

    Our croc skink hasn't eaten since his girlfriend died. Weird, eh? Maybe he's upset!
  12. anolelover2

    anolelover2 Member

    he is probably depresed. have you tried giveing him more attention or offering a few small treats when handaling him?
  13. anolelover2

    anolelover2 Member

    humans are so stupid!=] of course reptiles have feelings just us being mamals sometimes have trouble recognizing them. they dont express feelings the way we do. the speak in body langage and (i belive telepathy as well) in some cases feramones.-great im being all scientific again lol~im only 13
  14. anolelover2

    anolelover2 Member

    -my head hurts from reading all the arguing-typical humans-dont have enough brains to figure out the fact that reptiles and all other critters have feelings but express them in ways that are alien to most of us. ex.body langauge,telepathy, scent...etc.
  15. Typhanie

    Typhanie Elite Member

    The thing is that technically they *don't* have emotions. Their responses are programmed and instictive.

    As humans, we want to interpret their actions as the same sorts of feelings that we have. We all do this because that is the only way we can understand how to react to the behaviors they exhibit.

    So when we change their environment or their cagemate dies or someone else takes over their care, and they become agressive or stop eating as a response, we say that they're upset or grieving or afraid. In reality the situation it may simply be that instinctively they sense danger. Sudden changes in their habitat or routine can trip this sensor, thus initiating the flight or fight behaviors that they show afterward.

    But because we need to know what to do for them next, we assign them an emotion. They are upset because their mate died. What do we do when someone is upset? We give them time, extra attention, treat them gently and try to reassure them. Eventually this strategy usually pays off. As nothing bad happens to them, the danger alarm goes away, and then they begin to adjust. And we say that they're happy now.

    So while technically they don't feel emotions the way we do, allowing ourselves to assign emotions to them helps us work with them more easily, and makes us happier.
  16. inkman

    inkman Elite Member

    i think all forces of life have feelings, but the deffintion of feelings may vary becuase with us humans are feelings are based on the amount of "goodness" or the amount of "badness" we encounter so for animal there feelings may be based around somthing so simple as how full they got from there meal, okay I am just rambling.....
  17. inkman

    inkman Elite Member

    wow I agree and disagree becuase, just like are herps we have nature instincs witch evolve. wants and needs for instence most of us want a romantic partner but some of us feel we need a one witch I think that goes with most needs and wants some do some dont, but that need comes from the instinct of pro creation, so I think even with herps they may live with out companionship if we interduce it to them it may become a want and or need, this is a just a for instence, I think this goes with all instincs becuase with agression can come fear, with prosperus things can com contentness I could be wrong but thats what I think

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