Step Away From the Birkin Bag! Your Crocodile Purse and Snakeskin Boots Have a Disturbing Past

PETA and international PETA entities have gone to five countries and exposed multiple farms that supply snakeskin, crocodile, lizard, and ostrich leather to companies like Gucci, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and Prada. On every farm they visited, the scene was the same: confinement, filth, cruelty, and prolonged, gruesome deaths.

Don’t believe it? Watch the videos below and see the cruelty that goes into every item that’s made of animal-derived materials.


Snakes are shy, secretive individuals who would prefer to be left alone to sun themselves in peace. But workers in the fashion industry frequently take them from their homes, lock them in cages so small they can’t stretch out, and then skin them—often while they’re still alive.

A 2021 PETA Asia investigation in Indonesia shows how workers killed and skinned pythons for LVMH snakeskin boots and other accessories. In the video, workers bash in the heads of snakes with hammers, suspend them while they’re still moving, pump them full of water, and cut off their skin—all while they’re likely still conscious.

Footage from a 2021 PETA Asia undercover investigation into a snakeskin supplier in Vietnam reveals that violence is common. At this facility, workers tied off snakes’ mouths and anuses and then cut a hole in either their head or tail, inserted a hose, and pumped the live animals full of compressed air, crushing their internal organs.

Lizard Leather

In nature, lizards live together in family groups made up of multiple generations and spend their days exploring the rainforest. Workers abduct lizards from their homes in order to steal their skins and sell them for profit.

In 2021, PETA Asia investigated a slaughterhouse that supplies Gucci with lizard skins. Workers there tied the animals’ legs behind their backs, and as they struggled to move, carelessly threw them around, then beheaded them without stunning them, leading to a prolonged, agonizing death, as lizards can still feel pain long after they’ve been beheaded.

Crocodile and Alligator Skin

In nature, crocodiles can live up to 80 years, and young crocodiles stay with their mothers for about two years. Reptiles exploited for their skin are prevented from engaging in natural behavior like digging tunnels and playing, and they rarely live past 3 years old.

An eyewitness in Vietnam captured footage of workers as they electroshocked crocodiles, cut into their necks, and jammed large metal rods down their spines in an attempt to kill them. Some were still moving and clearly conscious for over an hour after their spinal cords were severed.

In 2020, a PETA Asia investigator obtained footage in Vietnam that shows piles of crocodiles stuffed into bags with their mouths and feet taped so they can’t move. A worker is seen shocking one crocodile with what appears to be a car battery and stabbing them in the neck with a metal blade to sever their spinal cord. These animals were often alive and conscious throughout the entire slaughter process.

Images captured by PETA reveal thousands of crocodiles in Zimbabwe confined to crowded and filthy concrete pools, unable to move around freely, dig, play, or hunt. Once they had grown to the desired size, a worker cut into their neck and shoved a wire down their spine. It takes two or three of these animals to make just one handbag.

In 2015, PETA investigated an alligator prison that supplied skins to a tannery owned by Hermès. Our investigator found alligators kept in filthy water inside dark sheds with no access to sunshine, fresh air, clean water, or veterinary care. Workers cut into the 3-year-old alligators (whose skins were used to make watchbands) while they were still conscious.

Ostrich Leather and Feathers

Ostriches are intelligent, family-oriented birds who can live for more than 40 years in nature, and young ostriches often stay with their parents for up to three years. In the exotic-skins industry, baby ostriches never meet their parents and they’re slaughtered when they’re just 1 year old.

In 2015, PETA investigators visited multiple ostrich farms and slaughterhouses in South Africa, including an Hermès supplier. In their video footage, workers force the terrified birds into stun boxes and then slit their throats in full view of their flockmates. In addition to leather, ostriches are exploited for their feathers, which workers often rip out, inflicting extreme pain on the sensitive birds.

No matter where they come from, snakeskin boots, lizard-leather bags, crocodile-skin belts, and ostrich-leather accessories are made from someone, not something. If it’s made from an animal, someone suffered. Reptiles and birds are thinking, feeling individuals who have personalities just like cats and dogs, and they deserve respect.

You can help shut down the cruel exotic-skins industry. Never buy products made of snakeskin, crocodile skin, lizard leather, ostrich leather, or anything else that’s stolen from an animal.

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