Boiling Mad: Crabs Feel Pain
Robert Roy Britt
LiveScience.com robert Roy Britt
livescience.com – Fri Mar 27, 10:48 am ET
A favored method of preparing fresh crabs is to simply boil them alive. A longstanding related question: Do they feel pain?
Yes, researchers now say. Not only do crabs suffer pain, a new study found, but they retain a memory of it (assuming they aren't already dead on your dinner plate). The scientists say its time for new laws to consider the suffering of all crustaceans.
The study involved using wires to deliver shocks to the bellies of hermit crabs, which, being hermits, often take up residence in left-behind mollusc shells. The crabs that were shocked scampered out of their shells, "indicating that the experience is unpleasant for them," the scientists concluded; unshocked crabs stayed put.
Another test was run to see what would happen if a mild shock was delivered, one just below the threshold that would cause the crabs to leave home. These mildly shocked crabs, along with crabs that had not been shocked, were then offered a new home. The typical reaction: They'd go inspect the new shell. Significantly, those that had been shocked were more likely to pack up and move to the new residence compared to those that hadn't been shocked.
"There has been a long debate about whether crustaceans including crabs, prawns and lobsters feel pain," said study researcher Bob Elwood of Queen's University Belfast in the UK.