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Paradox25's avatar

Do lobsters have the capacity to feel pain?

Asked by Paradox25 (10203points) April 26th, 2012

It is an odd thing to ask on here maybe but this is something that I’ve always wondered about. For some odd reason I find that I can’t bring myself to order lobster when I eat out, and I’m always thinking about what I’ve just asked especially considering that lobsters are usually boiled alive.

I have tried googling for the answer but the issue still doesn’t seem to be resolved. This may very well be an issue that will never get resolved either but any input, links or book recommmendations are welcome here. Do you think that lobsters (and/or other crustaceans) feel pain when they’re being boiled alive?

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15 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

In all seriousness, who cares? I won’t stop eating them no matter what the answer is.

(my guess is that their brains are so primitive that pain is not a sensation. But what do I know… I’m a crab.)

ragingloli's avatar

Pain is the fundamental sense to detect and avoid danger and harm in animals.
I am 99.9999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999 that they are able to feel pain.

Coloma's avatar

Yes, I believe anything that has a nervous system feels pain. It is mans justifications to do what he wants to “lesser” beings that attempts to rationalize and minimize truths.
Being captured, having your claws bound shut with rubber bands and being boiled alive is not going to be a pleasant experience for a lobster or anything else.

Thammuz's avatar

I don’t think the sound they make when you boil them alive is an accident.

Almost all creaures can feel pain, hell, some plants shy away from scissors.

thorninmud's avatar

I imagine being held by an alien with a very different nervous system from ours. He suspends me above a pot of boiling water, wondering whether humans can feel pain. “Nah”, he thinks, “probably too primitive.”

Trillian's avatar

Only if you hold a lighter to its head!

john65pennington's avatar

How would we ever know? If somebody says a lobster told them so, the I will send to doctor Lonelydragon for evaluation

nikipedia's avatar

It certainly appears so.

Sunny2's avatar

Lobsters have only a rudimentary nervous system, nevertheless, that’s why you put them in the boiling water head first. I learned this the hard way. I boiled the water stuck the lobster in, head up, and watched in horror as they moved the kettle around with their claws. I had to leave the room. Lesson learned. When I sent my mother live lobsters from Maine as a gift, she warned afterwards, “Don’t name your lobsters! It makes it much harder to eat them.”
And the sounds you hear are just air being forced out by the pressure. Lobsters don’t have vocal cords.

Keep_on_running's avatar

I think most complex organisms do, but they don’t care or think about it like we do. It’s just a reflex when their body moves in response to the pain.

josie's avatar

Who knows? Have you ever asked one?

BhacSsylan's avatar

A quick note for @Thammuz and others, that sound they sometimes make in a pot actually is an ‘accident’, or at least it’s not a scream. It’s air being released from their shells upon expansion, not any actual process from the lobster itself. Lobsters have no vocalization equipment, and so can’t scream.

However, I would still agree they feel pain, because it would be extraordinarily unlikely for them to not for the reasons @ragingloli mentioned. What that means is another question, but they almost certainly have a pain sensation.

rooeytoo's avatar

Don’t most people put all shelled critters in ice first to kill them before they go into the pot? I sure couldn’t boil them when they were still moving. I don’t know if they feel the pain, but I sure as hell would just watching!

Paradox25's avatar

@Thammuz Yes, and also I’d noticed that they tend to dart through the water too, like they’re trying to escape.

@thorninmud I’ve thought about that point. The ability to feel great pain but not being able to relay the message to others. It’s why I’ve asked this question.

@nikipedia I remember reading about that experiment a few months ago. It has critics but it seemed like credible research to me.

@josie I did, he said “ouch”!

Coloma's avatar

Well..I have never boiled a live lobster and never will, but, I have had poor little tree frogs fall into my hot hot tub and it is so sad. They hit the hot water, kick off, stride out once, then freeze and slowly start to sink. It just KILLS me when a poor little frog leaps into the tub!
I have managed to save a few, scoop them out in a nano second and put cool water on them. I have no idea if this is, in itself, cruel because they have been scalded beyond recovery, but, a few have hopped off and I have been hopeful. :-(

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