Snake meat, the solution to world hunger?

Snake meat could be the food of the future. A solution to world hunger? Scientists suggest adding python meat to the diet.

We know snakes aren’t most people’s favorite animals, but… what if they solved a worrying problem today? Unlike traditional livestock farming, which requires large areas of land and resources, hookhooks (Pythonidae) have a minimal impact on natural resources and are therefore environmentally friendly.

A new study led by a team of scientists at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, shows that producing snake meat can counteract environmental degradation and solve the planet’s nutritional problems.

Sustainable snake meat production

Snake meat
Python bivittatus

Snake meat, especially python meat, has the ability to convert food into body mass much better than regular beef or chicken meat. “Outperforms all common farm animals we have tested“explains Daniel Natusch, who led the study published in the journal Scientific reports.

Research suggests pythons could provide a “flexible and effective” alternative to other common farm animals because they are surprisingly environmentally friendly and provide meat high in protein but low in saturated fat.

If this surprises you, keeping pythons isn’t all that unusual, in fact it’s an established practice in many parts of Asia, where species like reticulated pythons (Malay Python reticulatus) and Burmese pythons (Python bivittatus) are raised to eat their meat.

In Hong Kong, for example, snake soup is a very popular dish, especially in winter, so commercial python farms have been set up to meet the demand.

This type of nonvenomous snake grows quickly and reaches sexual maturity in three years; As if that weren’t enough, they are very fertile animals, capable of producing 100 eggs per year for two decades. They can even be fed waste proteins from other meat industries.

To reach this conclusion, a team of researchers from Macquarie University and the University of Oxford examined around 4,600 pythons at two python farms in Southeast Asia: one in Uttaradit province in central Thailand and another near Ho Chi Minh City in the south Vietnam.

How much food does a python have to eat to produce a pound of meat for humans?

Snake meat

The pythons were fed weekly with various local proteins such as wild rodents and fishmeal and then measured and weighed weekly for 12 months.

They found that the ratio of food consumed by pythons to meat produced (where a lower number means higher efficiency) was 1.2, compared to 1.5 for salmon, 2.8 for birds and 2.8 for poultry meat, 6.0 for pork and 10.0 for beef. The 4,600 pythons grew up to 46 kg per day and the females grew even faster than the males. They gained significant weight within 12 months on minimal feeding, contrary to the usual nutritional requirements of chickens and cows.

Read Also:  Perilla oil. Vegetable Omega3 for cholesterol

Still, they grew faster than chickens, pigs, cows, crickets, and salmon, and were fed more frequentlyNatush said.

Compared to mammals, pythons produce fewer greenhouse gases, produce less waste, and tolerate periods of food scarcity, making them a potentially sustainable food source.

In their article, the experts point out that these pythons hatch from eggs laid on farms rather than being caught in the wild. Possible species include the Burmese python, reticulated python and South African rock python.

Nutritional Benefits

Snake meat is praised for its nutritional value, being low in fat and calories but high in proteins, nutrients and essential amino acids. “The ability of hungry pythons to regulate their metabolism and maintain good body condition improves food security in unstable environments“explains herpetologist Daniel Natusch.
It can be a flexible and effective response to global food shortages“.

Given all of these obvious benefits, scientists believe more countries should consider commercially breeding pythons for snake meat. The results of this study suggest that commercial python farming could be a viable and environmentally friendly option for global food production, although further research is needed to determine the most effective breeding methods to achieve this goal.

While pythons aren’t likely to replace traditional burgers any time soon (at least in the West!), they could play a crucial role in places where snake meat is already on the menu.

References:

  • Natusch, D., Aust, PW, Caraguel, C. et al. Python farming as a flexible and efficient form of agricultural food security. Sci Rep 14, 5419 (2024).
  • Lyons, J. & Natusch, D. (2011). Wildlife laundering through breeding farms: Illegal harvesting, population declines, and means of regulating the trade in green pythons (Morelia viridis) from Indonesia. Biological Conservation, 144, 3073-3081.
  • Auliya, M., Hofmann, S., Segniagbeto, G., Assou, D., Ronfot, D., Astrin, J., Forat, S., Ketoh, G. & D’Cruze, N. (2020) . The first genetic study of wild and farmed ball pythons (Reptilia, Serpentes, Pythonidae) in southern Togo. Nature and Conservation, 38, 37-59.

With information from:

Recent Articles

Related News

Leave A Reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here