Let them eat snake: python farming an "efficient" food source

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2024/03/19/let-them-eat-snake-python-farming-an-efficient-food-source.html

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Something, something, Florida.

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cobra GIF

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Mmmmmm dinner’s ready kids!

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And when the neighbouring farmer tells you they are missing 2-3 head of Python, you might want to keep an eye out.

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OK, but all snake farms need to be like in Michigan or somewhere where they won’t survive a winter when some of them eventually escape.

There are people who track and hunt pythons in Florida. They even have “Judas Goat” type snakes - females with trackers who are “fixed”, so they can try to harvest the males after her. But even with the trackers, they sometimes can’t find the snake. It’s a mess.

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OK, I’ll give it a try. Pass me a drumstick.

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Efficiency seems suspect. They’ll only be as efficient as their animal feedstock (rodents, rabbits, dogs, cats, deer, etc). Wild caught sounds like the way to go. Looking at you Louisiana

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Article says they are being fed wild-caught rodents supplemented with waste products from domestic meat processing (leftover bits of cows, pigs & chickens that humans don’t normally eat).

But you’re probably right that converting all that stuff into snake meat is not the most efficient possible way to produce edible protein.

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Here you go:

image

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There’s the catch: They’re all drumstick!

Jim Carrey Omg GIF

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I have a better idea:

Maybe not as efficient, but much better environmental and moral impact, so…

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Nah. Too fatty, and unhealthy level of drug residue.

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How about we split the diff and feed the rich to the snakes?

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The paper claims a feed conversion ratio of 4.1, which is about half as efficient as chicken (while also requiring much more protein-dense food).

However, their summary table gives a feed conversion ratio of 1.2, which is much better than chicken.

Either way, they still rely on protein waste from conventional animal farming (pork, chicken and fish were mentioned in the paper), so it doesn’t look like it could be sustainable on its own.

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I’ve actually had snake before, it was many years ago at a Cajun restaurant. I don’t remember what it tasted like, but I do remember finishing it. As far as I remember, I liked it, however, I also like eel.

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With Python farming there are the constant nuisances of python rustlers as well as maniacal villains trying to use your python pit for nefarious purposes.

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I’ve had fried rattlesnake. It tasted like fried chicken. Or fried catfish. Or fried whatever, because all you really taste is the fried part. It was a pretty bland meat. I have no idea if python is similar.

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Yeah, no. Snakes, every one of them, are carnivores. You have to first grow the food, which you could eat, then feed it to the mice or rats, which then grows a little bit, then feed that to the snake.

As for using “waste,” pythons are, according to a snake-raising friend, difficult to feed, picky eaters who won’t eat carrion, only live food or very recently dead and still intact enough that it looks like it might be alive. She says she’s going to look into how these researchers claim to do it as it would save her a fortune on pinkies and frozen rats, but told me that’s likely an exaggeration at best. The old “Far Side” cartoon, with mama snake telling her child “Jiggle grandpa’s mouse so he’ll think its still alive” isn’t far off.

As for hunting, well, there is an invasive snake problem in Florida, sure, and probably somewhere between 30,000 and 300,000 of them, with the only restrictions on hunting being local safety laws, no bag limit. In comparison, Florida’s poultry farmers maintained an average of 7.34 million egg layers in 2018 (producing 2 billion eggs) and produced 65.4 million broilers.

It’s too bad, I’ve eaten snake (rattlesnake at a Texas BBQ, garter snake while doing wilderness survival, cobra in Southeast Asia on a business trip) and it is pretty good, more like alligator than chicken, but flaky, meaty, and good with a variety of sauces. But it won’t become “the new white meat,” and probably never make it to your local ordinary grocery store, and it sure as heck isn’t going to be as efficient as a herbivore or omnivore at generating meat.

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