IT WAS good to see The Argus highlighting the plight of some exotic pets (February 24).

As we all know, the term “exotic pets” usually refers to creatures removed from the natural environment to which they are obviously best suited.

Although there are no doubt many responsible owners of such pets, pet shops should actively discourage this practice by not selling them in the first place.

Another reason for this is the often forgotten abhorrent trade in live insects, which is sadly necessary as they are often the main staple diet for exotic pets.

The way this trade is carried out has no resemblance to the way these insects would be instantly killed in the wild.

They are left to linger for days on end on shop shelves, crammed into tiny plastic boxes in the vague hope that a potential pet owner will eventually turn up to buy them.

They are clearly distressed, desperately trying to escape.

As is to be expected, many die a slow death in the process and the boxes are then marked “reduced to clear”, like a tin of baked beans past its sell-by date.

For crickets programmed to jump, it must be the equivalent of a man dying in a strait-jacket. Surely, the lesser of two evils would be for them to be sold by prepaid orders only, with strictly pre-arranged collection dates.

I appreciate the Animal Welfare Act does not apply to insects, but there should be much stricter guidelines.

Insects are beautiful creatures in their own right, and part of our finely tuned ecological system. What message are we passing on to our children?

All creatures should be treated with compassion and respect, with no suffering being inflicted on them regardless of their size.

Animal cruelty does not start with a dog or a cat. It is much more insidious.

It is an attitude of mind and a hardening of the heart partly acquired through observation and subliminal messages resulting in the inability to feel empathy for the suffering of any creature different to, or smaller than, oneself.

Nicole Pendlebury, Wilbury Villas, Hove