The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 12-12-2008, 01:52 AM
usedtobe usedtobe is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Critters Which Will Eat Themselves to Death

Over in the "die by running into a wall" thread, there is a side conversation of "Are horses stupid?"
Rather than further that hijack:
I, for one, consider any animal which will eat so much that it dies to be, in a word FRIGGIN' STUPID!

So: which domesticated critters must be kept from their food lest they die by groging themselves?

Do (some or all) dogs do this, or is there another reason they are only fed in small quantities? (why yes, as a matter of fact, I DO dislike dogs).

Back to the list:

1. Horses
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 12-12-2008, 02:06 AM
seodoa seodoa is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
How about humans?
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 12-12-2008, 03:19 AM
usedtobe usedtobe is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
I'm thinking "at a single sitting"
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 12-12-2008, 03:28 AM
seodoa seodoa is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by usedtobe View Post
I'm thinking "at a single sitting"
Gotcha.

As far as dogs go, many people choose to "free feed" their dogs (and cats), in which food is left out at all times and the animal is allowed to eat as much or as little as it wants. This is not going to kill them outright, but both dogs and cats tend to get obese in these situations, although dogs generally will get more so than cats. (cite [pdf]) I am not sure if it is the right term, but dogs are opportunistic eaters by nature and will overeat when food is plentiful in preparation for perceived shortages that would be frequent in the wild. In a house free feeding setting, the dog will tend to overeat in preparation for the famine that never comes. This will result in obesity, certainly, but not immediate death from gorging. Cats may or may not do the same thing, I'm less experienced with them.

Last edited by seodoa; 12-12-2008 at 03:29 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 12-12-2008, 04:19 AM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by usedtobe View Post
I, for one, consider any animal which will eat so much that it dies to be, in a word FRIGGIN' STUPID!
But that only happens if the food is grain or pelletized feed -- very concentrated food, created for the convenience of the human owner, rather than the horse. It's easier for the owner to transport and store a few 50-pound sacks of sweet feed, and just toss a couple pounds into their feed box morning & night. But it's not better for the horse, as any Vet will tell you.

Since the feed is concentrated, horses can eat a lethal amount before their stomach tells them to stop eating. It's evolved to be large enough to handle much of a bale of hay, but not a bale of concentrated sweet feed! And horses don't have a very effective "I'm full" signal anyway, since as grazing animals, they are evolved to eat grass almost continuously -- up to 16-20 hours per day. Plus they are not able to vomit, which is the way the human body deals with overeating (or eating spoiled foods, or drinking too much spoiled grain (alcohol), or nearly any digestive upset.

Horses in a natural environment, grazing in a pasture, can NOT eat so much that they die.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 12-12-2008, 04:25 AM
seodoa seodoa is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by t-bonham@scc.net View Post
Horses in a natural environment, grazing in a pasture, can NOT eat so much that they die.
Well put. I wanted to say pretty much the same thing you had, but probably would not have said it as well. It's akin to what I said about dogs' eating habits. In a natural environment, the way dogs eat is actually a survival mechanism. In domestication, however, it doesn't work. Fat dogs aren't stupid. Fat dogs' owners are.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 12-12-2008, 04:26 AM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Oh, and horses do not run in a "blind panic".

They run to join the herd, and then the whole herd runs away from the danger. A good survival instinct for a prey animal on open prairie. Cattle, Buffalo, wildebeest, etc. do that too. It's called a stampede.

So the idea of 2 horses alone in a pasture running into each other is not irrational. When panicked, they run toward each other, to join up in a herd. And they could run into each other (especially if they are concentrated on looking around for the danger that panicked them).

In a larger group, there would be an Alpha Mare who would decide where the herd will run, and all the others will follow her direction.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 12-12-2008, 04:26 AM
Nava Nava is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by usedtobe View Post
I'm thinking "at a single sitting"
I'm not sure humans aren't able to do that... the "end cause" would be different, but my great-grandfather's cause of death is given in the family as "reventó de una comilona" (lit. "he blew himself up eating - on one sitting"). Whether it was a ruptured appendix or a heart attack, I don't know and don't ever expect to find out, as 55 years seems a bit distant for a trustworthy autopsy. But if he was anything like his son, he attributed the pain to "gee, I'm still hungry" when it actually came from something else.

Last edited by Nava; 12-12-2008 at 04:30 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 12-12-2008, 08:47 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2000
In Hindu legend, there's Kirtimukha:

Quote:
In his book "Myths to Live By", Joseph Campbell narrates this story about Kirtimukha from Hindu mythology (Siva Puranam), that is highly symbolic of the self-destructive nature of the unbridled ego-self in us.
"Let me recount now a really marvelous Hindu legend to this point, from the infinitely rich mythology of the god Shiva and his glorious world-goddess Parvati. The occasion was of a time when there came before this great divinity an audacious demon who had just overthrown the ruling gods of the world and now came to confront the highest of all with a non-negotiable demand, namely, that the god should hand over his goddess to the demon. Well, what Shiva did in reply was simply to open that mystic third eye in the middle of his forehead, and puff! a lightning bolt hit the earth, and there was suddenly there a second demon, even larger than the first. He was a great lean thing with a lion-like head, hair waving to the quarters of the world, and his nature was sheer hunger. He had been brought into being to eat up the first, and was clearly fit to do so. The first thought: "So what do I do now?" and with a very fortunate decision threw himself upon Shiva's mercy.
Now it is a well-known theological rule that when you throw yourself on a god's mercy the god cannot refuse to protect you; and so Shiva had now to guard and protect the first demon from the second. Which left the second, however, without meat to quell his hunger and in anguish he asked Shiva, "Whom, then, do I eat?" to which the god replied, "Well, let's see: why not eat yourself?"
And with that, no sooner said than begun. Commencing with his feet, teeth chopping away, that grim phenomenon came right on up the line, through his own belly, on up through his chest and neck, until all that remained was a face. And the god, thereupon, was enchanted. For here at last was a perfect image of the monstrous thing that is life, which lives on itself. And to that sun-like mask, which was now all that was left of that lion-like vision of hunger, Shiva said, exulting, "I shall call you Face of Glory, 'Kirttimukha', and you shall shine above the doors to all my temples. No one who refuses to honor and worship you will come ever to knowledge of me."
http://kirtimukha.com/devilsMask.htm

The Demon didn't die, but that's only because it's magical, and doesn't need a digestive respiratory, or circulatory system to survive.


There's also the Prize in Robert Sheckley's novel Dimension of Miracles, although it was shrewd enough not to eat enough of itself to cause death.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 12-12-2008, 09:20 AM
Hi, Neighbor! Hi, Neighbor! is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Are goldfish "domesticated" animals? I know overfeeding is a very serious concern for them. They eat until they literally puff up like a balloon and die.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 12-12-2008, 12:25 PM
griffin1977 griffin1977 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
I thought the problem with farm animals eating themselves to death was caused by the nature of modern animal feed. In "the wild" (whatever that means for a domesticated animal) they would never encounter food they could eat themselves to death with. However modern animal feed is extremly high calorie and nutrient rich so when animals gorge themselves on it, it can kill them.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 12-12-2008, 12:30 PM
CookingWithGas CookingWithGas is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Tysons Corner, VA, USA
Posts: 9,470
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hi, Neighbor! View Post
Are goldfish "domesticated" animals? I know overfeeding is a very serious concern for them. They eat until they literally puff up like a balloon and die.
Something may happen. You never know what.

Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 12-12-2008, 12:39 PM
griffin1977 griffin1977 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by usedtobe View Post
I, for one, consider any animal which will eat so much that it dies to be, in a word FRIGGIN' STUPID!
I think it probably has more to do with the type of animal they are than their intelligence. Carnivores, but their nature, will naturally gorge themselves (as in the wild that is how they eat) and so their bodies can handle it. Grazing animals on the other hand are used to, well, grazing. They are not used to eating huge amounts of high calorie food in one sitting.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 12-12-2008, 03:45 PM
cwthree cwthree is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by t-bonham@scc.net View Post
Horses in a natural environment, grazing in a pasture, can NOT eat so much that they die.
Overgrazing is unlikely to lead to death due to stomach rupture. However, overgrazing on rich grass (typically young grass plants in springtime) can lead to death as a consequence of laminitis.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 12-12-2008, 04:00 PM
The Scrivener The Scrivener is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
In the Florida Everglades a couple of years ago, a Burmese python gulped down a whole alligator -- but fared less well with the digestive process. (Click on Pic 6 for a very nicely detailed pic.)
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 12-12-2008, 04:09 PM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by cwthree View Post
Overgrazing is unlikely to lead to death due to stomach rupture. However, overgrazing on rich grass (typically young grass plants in springtime) can lead to death as a consequence of laminitis.
Or colic -- that's even more common.

But, again, this is a result of human modification of natural horse behavior. These horses have been kept inside all winter, then are turned out in spring to graze on young growing grass. It's the sudden change from eating stored, dried grass (hay) to fresh young green grass that causes the digestive problems, not the feed itself.

And that doesn't happen in nature. Horses naturally roam in herds, following the grass, going southward in winter. They move continuously, grazing along the way, so in nature they don't have any sudden change in diet -- the grass they graze today is pretty similar to that grazed yesterday, a few miles away.

It's because we have domesticated them, and kept them confined within pastures on our property rather than roaming to graze, and we make dietary changes that are much more sudden than anything a naturally grazing horse would encounter that we overwhelm their digestive system.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 12-12-2008, 04:10 PM
cher3 cher3 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hi, Neighbor! View Post
Are goldfish "domesticated" animals? I know overfeeding is a very serious concern for them. They eat until they literally puff up like a balloon and die.
Other kinds of fish, too. We've been warned that it's better to underfeed bettas a bit than overfeed them. Again, though, it could be a function of how active they are in captivity versus their natural habitats.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 12-12-2008, 04:47 PM
teela brown teela brown is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Critters Which Will Eat Themselves to Death

Pizza the Hutt
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 12-12-2008, 04:48 PM
Cluricaun Cluricaun is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by cher3 View Post
Other kinds of fish, too. We've been warned that it's better to underfeed bettas a bit than overfeed them. Again, though, it could be a function of how active they are in captivity versus their natural habitats.
Most non-pisciverous fish will over eat until death. This includes nearly all fish kept as pets, but it's not something that's been widely observed in captive gamefish such as bass or walleye. Goldfish in the wild are bottom feeders and have to constantly attempt to hoover up nutrients off the bottom of their environment so they feed non stop in order not to starve to death. Once again when captive this behavior can be fatal since there's rarely, if ever, such an abundance of food found in nature.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 12-12-2008, 05:32 PM
RedSwinglineOne RedSwinglineOne is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by CookingWithGas View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hi, Neighbor!
Are goldfish "domesticated" animals? I know overfeeding is a very serious concern for them. They eat until they literally puff up like a balloon and die.
Something may happen. You never know what.

“Then something DID happen.
My little Otto began to grow.
...
Soon he was too big
for his little fish bowl.”
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:48 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright © 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.