Python: The Other, Other White Meat

Python: The Other, Other White Meat

As we’ve seen in this space before, humans are looking at a variety of meat replacements, many for sustainability reasons. But this is the first time I’ve encountered an intensive study on the farming viability of snake meat. Particularly, python – whose meat is already enjoyed throughout Southeast Asia, and has a flavour and texture similar to chicken breast.

Scientists observed two python farms in Thailand and Vietnam (hosting populations of reticulated and Burmese pythons) for a full year before publishing their findings in Scientific Reports. They discovered that the hallmarks that make pythons a top predator are ironically turning them into an excellent candidate for our plates.

“Pythons have an ‘extreme biology and evolutionary slant toward extreme resource and energy efficiency,’ Patrick Aust, conservation specialist at nonprofit People for Wildlife and co-author of the paper, told ABC News. Since pythons are an ‘ambush predator’ that chooses prey up to 100% their own weight, they can survive for prolonged periods of time between meals, Aust said. […]

The pythons were fed on a weekly basis a variety of locally sourced proteins, such as wild-caught rodents and fishmeal, and were regularly measured and weighed over a 12-month period, according to the paper. The authors found that both species of python grew rapidly – by up to 46 grams per day –  with females seeing higher growth rates than males.”

Because pythons eat one giant meal periodically, they are less susceptible to supply chain interruptions than livestock like cows or pigs. Plus, they are almost all meat: 82% of their average body mass is edible. The biggest hurdle scientists envision is reprogramming the Western palate to understand python meat as food. Otherwise (besides plant-based options of course) snake meat could prove one of the more sustainable protein sources in our increasingly dire food future!