Scientists Identify Most Cost Effective Form Of Farmed Meat–And It Is Not Chicken.

Burmese pythons, which are bred in countries such as Thailand and Vietnam, are docile and easy to handle.(Supplied: Dan Natusch)
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Python snake meat could be a super protein on dinner plates in years to come, research suggests, but farming the animals in the Caribbean could create a lot of problems, say experts.

A study published in the Nature journal has found the meat to be highly efficient, environmentally friendly source of nutrition that can be raised on waste proteins.

One butcher, Matt Fox, who sells exotic and game meats in, says he has had a “handful of customers” ask for snake meat.

He said he was not selling python at the moment, but would if a market emerged.

“If there is demand for it, for sure,” Mr Fox said.

Pythons are farmed for their meat in parts of Asia.

The study observed Burmese python snakes that were fed minced meat sausages consisting of stillborn piglets and chicken heads.

Hatchlings on the diet grew to a length of three metres and weighed 15 kilograms within a year.

“They are more efficient than any other livestock animal studied to date,” the study’s lead author Daniel Natusch said.

“They’re gluttonous by nature — like a labrador retriever, they just keep on eating.”

Dr Natusch, from Australia’s Macquarie University’s School of Natural Sciences, said the reptiles were an efficient source of protein because of the way they processed food.

a line of workers feeding snakes
Pythons are able to eat meat that is not otherwise usable. (Supplied: Dr Dan Natusch)

Pythons are able to eat meat that is not otherwise usable. (Supplied: Dr Dan Natusch)

“Warm-blooded animals waste about 80 to 90 per cent of the energy they get from their food in heat production,” he said.

“Cold-blooded animals such as pythons don’t have that constraint — they’re able to allocate far more of the energy they get from their food into things like growth.”

Another positive trait is the ability of snakes to survive without food for long periods.

“Several animals in our study were only eight months old and yet they had gone four months of their lives – 50 per cent – without eating anything and were continuing to grow,” Dr Natusch said.

That has real-world implications for a future where we expect increasing drought, heatwaves, climatic and economic volatility and supply chain breakdowns.”

he taste of snake meat was not part of the study, but Dr Natusch said to him it tasted similar to chicken.

“To be perfectly fair, it is quite bland … it depends on what you season it with,” he said.

“It’s a very lean meat … so very, very low in fat.

“I think it is a bit of a leap for people to go straight to snake, but you get a celebrity chef on it and do it well, you’re going to convert a lot of people because it tastes absolutely fine and it’s very versatile.”

Mr Fox has been a long-term advocate for variety in the meat people consume and hopes people will be open to trying the different type of protein.

“Meat is just meat at the end of the day,” he said.

Pythons do not exist in the wild in the Caribbean and Nature Foundation St Maarten says that with keeping Burmese Pythons as pets there are high risks to the environment and native species if the snake escapes or is accidentally released into the wild. Pythons can easily eat birds, even large ones, mammals, other pets such as cats or dogs,  or bite humans.

Nature Foundation St Maarten says these snakes can reproduce quickly, establish themselves as a population and are known to be invasive as females can lay clutches of up to 100 eggs a time. They have no known predators in the Caribbean.

Source: Australian Broadcasting Company.
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