I'm going to try an experiment; tell me if you think this will work.

I'm going to the local animal shelter to buy a small puppy. This is not because I desire the companionship of a pet – I already have one. My pet alligator Snappy lives in a pool in the yard. The thing is, Snappy's awful hungry and, well, small mammals do the trick for a crocodilian at mealtime. Since I really enjoy watching living things suffer, I'm going to throw the puppy into Snappy's pool alive. Then I'll film it with my webcam and post the video on YouTube so all the other degenerates in the world can vicariously enjoy the spectacle.

What do you think? I don't see any problems here.

The reality is that if I adopted or purchased a dog for this purpose – and shared my Canine Snuff Film with the internet – I'd be explaining myself to a judge in short order. I would deserve the felony animal cruelty conviction I'd receive. Yet people do this every day with snakes and small mammals. I won't dignify the YouTube videos with links.

I am widely recognized as a bastard, about as warm and cuddly as a hungry wolverine holding a hand grenade, but there are two things in this world that turn me into a sentimental blob of happy: my sister's kids and pet Fancy Rats. Specifically, Liz's five rats. I greeted her decision to acquire them with great horror several years ago, but they quickly conquered all of my preconceived ideas. They are fabulous pets. I feel about them like you feel about your cat or dog. In fact they are like tiny dogs – full of personality, fun, always playing games – only considerably more intelligent.

For some reason we consider it socially acceptable to sell certain live animals for people to take home and stage their own gladitorial spectacles with other, larger animals. Well, there's no difference in me feeding your cat to an alligator and you feeding my rat to a snake. Yes, pet reptiles need to eat. That is why pet stores sell prepared rats who live to adulthood, are painlessly euthanized, and are frozen for storage. The snake doesn't care. Honest. This is why every single reputable reptile breeder, pet store, and pet-snake-lovers' community on Earth insists on frozen food. Aside from the base cruelty of throwing an animal in a small cage with its predator, live feeding is dangerous for snakes (a cornered adult rat can seriously fuck up or even kill a snake). Try joining an online group of reptile owners and asking where you can find live rats to feed Mr. Slithers. They will treat you like the idiot you are.

I understand your urge to put mousetraps in your garage and attic to keep the pests away. I don't expect that we can ever talk the world out of that even though it is unnecessary. Killing rodents for entertainment and disregarding the safety of your pet reptile at the same time is across the line, though. I'm not a person who readily adopts "causes" but I think I am ready to cast my lot with a movement against live animal feeding. You might think this is remarkably stupid. Nevertheless, I'm comfortable digging my heels in on this one unless and until you're ready to let me satiate Snappy's hunger with your cat – and watch the video.