10 Animals That Spend Their Entire Lives in a Space Smaller Than Your Bathtub

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on January 16, 2016.

Imagine spending your entire life in your bathtub, and no matter how much you want to, you can’t get out.

You can barely move, let alone turn around. You are forced to live in your own feces. You never see the outside world — and after years of this miserable existence, you are killed.

It may sound sick, but this is the reality of life for billions of animals all over the world.

While some animals are offered legal protection from being abused and mistreated, others get none — instead spending almost every minute of their lives inside an area less than 1 x 2 meters.

By categorizing some animals as “necessary for medical research” or as “food animals,” they are born into a system where there is no hope of having any quality of life whatsoever.

The physical and mental effects of living a life of such confinement are unbearable, yet society turns a blind eye to the suffering of these animals — and companies continue to profit from this cruelty.

Here are 10 animals that have to live this cramped reality every day:

1. Battery Hens

Battery hens are forced to live in an area the size of an iPad, unable to ever flap their wings, turn around or even walk. Standing on wire mesh floors with cages stacked on top of one another, the hens develop deformed claws and often end up covered in feces from the animals living in the cages above them. When their depleted bodies can no longer produce the unnatural amount of eggs that we expect from them, they are slaughtered.

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2. Foie Gras Ducks

Ducks used in the foie gras industry are kept in similarly cramped enclosures, with cages so small that they are unable to turn around or escape when the workers come around with their tortuous feeding machines. These devices are forced down ducks’ throats, shoving an unnatural amount of food directly into their stomachs. This unimaginable suffering exists just so people can eat sick and engorged livers.

3. Fur Farm Foxes

The fur trade is shrouded in secrecy, for the sole reason that if the public was really aware of what went on behind closed doors, consumers would be much more likely to boycott the cruel and inhumane industry. In the wild, foxes travel huge distances each day, but on fur farms they are confined to such small cages that they are only able to take a couple of steps in either direction. This confinement causes unimaginable stress, anxiety and behavioral disorders, such as “circling.” When they reach a certain size, foxes are ripped from their cages, hung upside down, anally electrocuted and skinned.


4. Lab Rats

Lab rats — along with mice, gerbils, guinea pigs and other small animals — are bred by the thousands inside testing facilities that keep them confined to tiny “shoebox” cagesOnce tests have been completed, or have gone wrong, researchers simply guillotine their heads off, throw them into the bin and get another one to work on.

5. Gestation Crate Pigs

The life of a breeding sow in a factory farm is so disturbing and unnatural that we should be ashamed of ourselves for letting it happen. In order to continually produce litter after litter of piglets, females are forced to live in gestation crates, which is basically a metal cage only big enough for her to stand up and lay down in. She cannot turn around, walk or move towards her piglets — just lay down on her side like a living milking machine. Once the babies are old enough, they are taken away, and the mother pig will be enforceably impregnated once again.


6. Research Primates

The fact that primates share so many physiological similarities with humans is extremely bad news for them as it makes them a prime target for scientific and medical research. Paying little regard to their emotional and physical well-being, research facilities confine primates to tiny cages for the entirety of their lives, where they are not able to exhibit any of their natural behaviors and suffer from severe psychological distress.

7. Veal Calf

The cruelty inflicted upon calves in the dairy industry is one of the agribusiness’ best kept secrets. When you purchase milk, cheese or any other dairy products, you are directly contributing to the suffering of millions of calves that have been stolen from their mothers immediately after birth and locked up in crates where they can barely turn around. These calves are chained at the neck and then fed an all-liquid diet that is deficient in iron and fiber, stopping them from developing proper muscles to make their meat “tender.” At just 12 weeks of age, these calves — most of which are too weak to even stand — are dragged to slaughter.


8. Puppy Mill Dogs

In puppy mills, dogs are crammed into tiny wire cages where they are confined for the duration of their monotonous lives. The cages are overcrowded and unsanitary, and dogs are left without sufficient food, water, socialization or veterinary care. This causes a multitude of social, emotional and physical conditions, including genetic disorders and deformities. To maximize profits, females are bred at every opportunity, with no recovery time in between litters. Puppies are torn away from their mothers as young as 8-weeks-old and sold to pet shops or directly to the public over the internet or through newspaper ads.

9. Meat Farm Rabbits

Every year hundreds of thousands of rabbits are forced to live and die without ever having had the chance to run on fresh grass, dig a burrow or play with their siblings. Instead they are forced to spend day after day packed inside tiny cages without sunlight, fresh air or freedom. Fighting, biting and mutilation are very common as the rabbits are packed in so tightly together. The stress and misery of these unnatural living conditions is soul-destroying for the rabbits, who suffer from mental and physical illnesses that lead many to die while still trapped inside their cages.


10. Circus Lions

Technically bigger than a bathtub, but just as confined, many animals living in the circus are forced to spend almost their entire lives trapped inside tiny box trailers, trucks and cages, with no exercise, no chance to display natural behaviors and barely enough room to move around. As with the research animals, the only time they are allowed to leave their confinement is when they are forced to endure episodes of fear, suffering, physical pain and humiliation all in the name of entertainment.

Freedom should be the most basic right of every living being on this planet, yet humans have taken it upon ourselves to steal this from billions of animals every single year, so that we can exploit their bodies for our personal gain.

Animals are not ours to use as we want, and it’s time for us to put an end to their suffering and exploitation. If you were the one being forced to spend your entire life inside a space the size of your bathtub, I’m sure you would agree.

Photo Credit: We Animals/Jo-Anne McArthur


Marie W
Marie W4 months ago


David K
David K6 months ago

That's horrible for those animals to be treated that way. I've seen the veal cages, and had no idea calves were treated that way. ...until now.
Some states are working to get rid of puppy mills.
Some of these large slaughterhouses treat pigs very cruelly...most dont know the pain nd torture chickens, pigs, cows, and other farm animals go through before they are killed ...and the cooked bodies are on our dinner table.

hELEN h6 months ago


Glennis W
Glennis W6 months ago

Deplorable and despicable Thank you for caring and sharing

Glennis W
Glennis W6 months ago

Rotten cruel mongerals Thank you for caring and sharing

Glennis W
Glennis W6 months ago

Cruel BASTARDS Thank you for caring and sharing

Glennis W
Glennis W6 months ago

So very sad Thank you for caring and sharing

Ann B
Ann B6 months ago

animals get the cruelest treatment..we must do all we can to stop this..i have seen so many of the calves in those tiny pens -they need to be with their mothers

Renata B
Renata B6 months ago

Too painful to stand really. These things happen because the large majority of people doesn't care. Greed thrive when people don't care. Fortunately the Vegan movement has grown incredibly. When I see the videos of demos I always become very emotional. I became vegetarian in 1984 and vegan in 1999. I am old now and at that time I would have never imagined to see such mass awareness in my lifetime. But evil is still so huge.

Peggy B
Peggy B6 months ago