How Are Alligators and Crocodiles Killed for Their Skins?
The alligators, crocodiles, and other reptiles killed for their skins suffer immensely. Most alligator skins come from farmed animals raised in crowded tanks or pools of fetid, stinking water. The animals are shot or crudely bludgeoned with hammers and skinned alive.
Workers sometimes use a mallet and chisel to sever crocodiles’ spinal cord which paralyzes, but does not kill, the animals. Herpetologist Clifford Warwick, a specialist in reptile biology and welfare, says, “There is no scientific question as to whether alligators are capable of feeling pain and sensitivity to stress—they are.”
Dr. Warwick also found that farmed crocodiles often “develop abnormalities and deformities because they can’t walk or swim” in the crowded enclosures.
There are few laws to protect reptiles from abuse, and those that do exist are often not enforced. For example, although animals such as anacondas and crocodiles are covered by Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) regulations, it is estimated that for every animal who is legally killed for the exotic skins trade, another will be illegally poached.
In the United States, reptiles are excluded from the meager protections afforded by the Animal Welfare Act. In addition to being cruel, this industry is extremely wasteful: It can take the skins of four crocodiles to make a single bag.