This section is from the book "The Hygienic System: Fasting And Sun Bathing", by Herbert M. Shelton. Also available from Amazon: The Hygienic System Vol III Fasting and Sun Bathing.
The pupal stage of insects which undergo metamorphosis, is that immediately following the larval stage. The term chrysalis has almost the same value as pupa. If the insect is not wholly quiescent during this pupal stage the word nymph is used. Since the larval stage of most insects differs so markedly from the adult stage, the pupal stage constitutes the intermediate stage in which the necessary bodily changes are effected. It is a period of internal transformation, during which most pupa are outwardly quiescent, they move very little, and do not eat at all. The marvellous structural and functional transformations take place during this period of abstinence from food, the pupa depending entirely upon its stored reserves for the accomplishment of its structural revolution. Pupal sleep may be artificially prolonged.
Fasts of longer or shorter durations are seen in many animals immediately after birth. For example, Fabre tells us that certain spiders eat no food for the first six months of their lives, but feast upon sunbeams. Chickens take neither food nor water for the first three days after they hatch from the egg. In most mammals there is no milk secreted for three or more days after their young are born. The fluid, secreted during this period is devoid of food value.
Many animals normally go for long periods between feedings, not eating for the reason that they are not hungry. For example, there are many snakes that eat only at long intervals.
An animal will refuse food when angry or excited. Indeed, an animal that is hungry and in the process of eating may be angered and will cease eating. Angry animals do not resume eating again until their anger has subsided. Reports of dogs grieving over the absence or death of their owners, refusing food for long periods, are often carried by the press.
Some animals refuse to eat when held in captivity. They will starve to death rather than live as captives thus making good Patrick Henry's ringing cry: "Give me liberty or give me death." One of these is the famous marine iguana, Amblyrhymchus Cristatus, a seashore lizard, of the Galapagos Islands, described as the "Vegetarian dragon" and "Fasting man." The Iguana feeds on sea-weeds and can abstain from food for long periods--over a hundred days.
Many thousands of animals of all kinds have been employed in experimental fasts. Insects, fishes, snakes, birds, rodents, rabbits, badgers, cows, horses, and many other types of animals have been used in fasts of varying lengths of time. In many of these fasts, the period of abstinence from food has been extended far beyond the normal limit of the fast into the period of starvation, some of them being ended before death occurred, others being carried on to death. While we are opposed to the suffering caused in animals by pushing the period of abstinence beyond the return of hunger, it has been done and the information thus obtained is available, and we are at liberty to make use of it in our studies of the subject. Many of these experimental fasts will be referred to as we proceed in our study.
Biologists, physiologists and research workers of all kinds are very fond of animal experimentation. But all of these workers are in the habit of ignoring important parts of the regular activities of animals. For example, they ignore, never mention, in fact, the numerous instances of dogs and other animals having fasted ten, twenty or more days when they, have received internal injuries or a broken bone. That a sick animal refuses food is well known to all laymen, but physiologists and biologists seem to think that this fact is unworthy, even, of mentioning. Can we not learn from observing the normal and regular activities of animals living normal lives--must we assume that animals are capable of teaching us something only when under artificial conditions, and subjected to processes that they never encounter in the normal course of their existence?
Dr. Oswald tells of a dog that had been put into the loft of a barn by the sergeant of a cavalry regiment. Losing its balance, while in the door of the loft and barking, it fell, turning a few somersaults as it came down, and landed on the hard pavement, "with a crack that seemed to have broken every bone in his body." He says "blood was trickling from his mouth and nose when we picked him up, and the troopers advised me to 'put him out of his misery,' but he was my little brother's pet, and, after some hesitation, I decided to take him home in a basket and give the problem of his care the benefit of a fractional chance. Investigation proved that he had broken two legs and three ribs, and judging by the way he raised his head and gasped for air, every now and then, it seemed probable that his lungs had been injured."
For twenty days and twenty nights the little terrier stuck to life in its cotton-lined basket without touching a crumb of solid food, but ever ready to take a few drops of water, in preference even to milk or soup. At the end of the third week it broke its fast with a saucerful of sweet milk, but only on the evening of the twenty-sixth day did it begin to betray any interest in a plateful of meat scraps.
Irwin Liek, noted German physician and surgeon, tells of instinctive fasting in three of his dogs. One of these had been run over by a truck which had broken several bones and injured it internally. The other had "devoured a considerable quantity of rat poison. It became very, very ill, suffered from diarrhea containing blood and pus" and "collapsed completely." The third lost an eye while "mixing it" with a cat. All three of these dogs fasted and recovered.
Physiologists have persistently ignored cases where dogs have voluntarily fasted for ten or twenty or more days when suffering from broken bones or internal injuries. Here is an action invariably pursued by nature which they persist in refusing to investigate.
It is said that the elephant, if wounded, and still able to travel, will go along with the rest of the herd and can be found supporting itself beside a tree while the remainder of the herd enjoys a hearty meal. The wounded elephant is totally oblivious to the excellent food all around him. He obeys an instinct as unerring as the one that brings the bee to his hive; an instinct which is common to the whole animal world, man included.