A man accused of animal cruelty has walked free from court after appearing on video eating a live baby rat.
Andy Ray Harris was arrested after chewing and swallowing the tiny, pink rodent during a sickening 45-second clip.
But despite eating the hairless animal and washing it down with a mouthful of beer, Harris, from Tooele, Utah, escaped punishment in court after a judge ruled rats are not a protected species.
Gruesome: Harris prepares to chew on the baby rat during the sickening 45-minute video clip
All done: The 31-year-old then opens his mouth to prove he has gobbled the entire hairless baby animal
The 31-year-old had been charged with aggravated animal abuse in April after police were alerted to the footage which had drawn complaints from horrified internet users.
The disturbing 45-second clip shows the small pink rat squirming on top of a notepad in a pub.
A spectator is then heard goading Harris, by telling him to 'go on and eat it'.
He picks up the helpless creature, snarls at the camera and pushes it into his mouth before chewing for around five seconds and taking a drink.
Disgust: Harris was charged with aggravated animal abuse for eating what appears to be a hairless rat
Stunt: Harris's video on Facebook was reported to the police by the animal cruelty charity PETA after they received complaints
Swig: Harris drinks from an oversized cup during his dare
Animal rights charity People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) reported it to police after a string of complaints.
Harris told police he ate the rat 'on a dare from my friends' but pleaded not guilty to a charge of aggravated animal abuse.
Prosecutors argued the baby rat deserved protection because it was not wild and was killed in a way that is 'not an accepted fashion'.
Grotesque: Harris admitted eating the baby rat for a dare at an earlier court hearing, but left the court unpunished after a judge ruled it was 'not a protected species'
But last week Harris went away from court unpunished after the judge dismissed the charges against him, declaring that rats were not a protected species.
Harris admitted his actions were 'grotesque' but was not cruel.
He'd also claimed his actions were not cruel because the rat was going to be eaten by a snake.
He added that 'for centuries rats have been a scourge to humanity and should have no legal protections'.