“Scientists Advocate for Increased Consumption of Python: Here’s Why You Should Consider It”

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We know meat-heavy diets aren’t good for the planet or our health, but how far would you go to switch to a more sustainable way of eating it? How about replacing your current options with a few choice cuts of python meat?

A new study by an international team of researchers examined the feasibility of farming pythons on a commercial scale and the environmental cost of this farming compared to conventional livestock.

The results were promising: the snakes grew rapidly, even during periods of fasting, and returned a good amount of python meat relative to the food they consumed (which included chicken and rodents). They can also be fed waste proteins from other meat industries.

And relying on snake flesh for food has another unusual advantage.

“The ability of fasting pythons to regulate metabolic processes and maintain body condition enhances food security in volatile environments, suggesting that python farming may offer a flexible and efficient response to global food insecurity,” herpetologist Daniel Natusch from Macquarie University in Australia and colleagues write in their published paper.

The team looked at two python species – Malayopython reticulatus and Python bivittatus – as they were reared at farms in Thailand and Vietnam over 12 months before being humanely killed.

They found that pythons’ ratio of food consumed to meat produced (where a lower number means greater efficiency) was 1.2, compared to 1.5 for salmon, 2.8 for poultry, 6.0 for pork, and 10.0 for beef.

Snakes can fast for several months without losing much body mass, making them ideal for farming in conditions where food and water supplies aren’t guaranteed—which, sadly, is an increasing percentage of the planet.

“Our studies confirm earlier work that it is biologically and economically feasible to breed and raise pythons in captive production facilities for commercial trade,” write the researchers.

You won’t see a switch to snake meat in grocery stores overnight – far from it – but the results of the study highlight how important these animals might be as a food source that’s reliable and eco-friendly.

There are challenges to overcome: feeding snakes can be labor-intensive, and we don’t yet have the setup at scale to farm them properly. Then, of course, there’s the question of whether or not we should be eating meat at all.

With those caveats in mind, Natusch and team acknowledge that this might not be viable for a while. What’s more, there’s another factor that the study doesn’t touch on – what snake meat actually tastes like.

“The biology and husbandry requirements of pythons are poorly understood relative to many endothermic taxa,” write the researchers.

“Coupled with the general fear humans have towards snakes, it may be some time before the agricultural potential of pythons is realized at the global scale.”

The research has been published in Scientific Reports.

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