CBB Pythons for Human Food Consumption Report - FaunaClassifieds
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Herps In The News Local or national articles where reptiles or amphibians have made it into the news media. Please cite sources.

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Old 03-20-2024, 10:29 AM   #1
Martin Nowak
CBB Pythons for Human Food Consumption Report

“Snake Steak Could Be a Climate-Friendly Source of Protein”
Scientific American March 14, 2024
Portions of the article below with link to entire publication.
“Pythons turn their food into meat pretty efficiently, a study finds, making them an intriguing alternative to climate-unfriendly cows.”

“Some snake scientists think eating these reptiles—already customary or at least acceptable in parts of the world—might help lessen the damage our food choices have on the environment. The general conundrum we somehow need to solve is: Where do we get the appropriate amounts of protein for a still-growing global population without the big environmental footprint?

“The environmental impacts of cattle products such as beef are especially costly: the animals produce nearly 10 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, and growing food for them spurs deforestation. Pork brings a separate set of environmental hazards, notably water pollution from pig waste. The chicken industry faces similar issues.”

“As snake biologists, we already knew that pythons had impressive physiologies,” Natusch says. “After speaking with the python farmers (in Viet Nam and Thailand) and continuing to monitor their growth rates, their remarkable physiologies became even more apparent.”

“The team studied reticulated pythons (Malayopython reticulatus) and Burmese pythons (Python bivittatus) on the farms, analyzing what they ate and how quickly they grew. Because we expect even greater global economic and climatic volatility in the future, pythons could be a solution for those future challenges,” Natusch says. “Farming pythons could be a big part of the solution for a part of the world that is already suffering from severe protein deficiency”.

“And of course, it all depends on whether people will take to eating python. Natusch says python meat is “pretty tasty and versatile” and argues that by his tally, a billion people in Southeast and East Asia, as well as parts of Latin America and Africa, already consider snake meat a culturally acceptable food. “It is really just Western cultures (which have few naturally occurring large reptiles) that haven’t been exposed to it,” he says.”


A few years ago, I was asked to prepare a business plan for developing CBB pythons as an agriculture opportunity and food source. The project was well received but not funded primarily because of the last article sentence – the question of acceptance in U.S. culture as a food source. However, in my opinion, the financial model was practical and rewarding. Pythons convert food sources into muscle protein much more efficiently than mammals, require less space, and produce tasty palatable white meat. At the time, there was less concern about the climate issues from cattle, pigs, and chickens – but that now is also a valid factor. I have long advocated that most reptiles have been captive bred for enough years that they should be given status as agricultural animals. As a food source such would clearly be the case. (Iguanas are a common food source and YouTube has many videos of BBQs in Florida).

Most reptiles should be reclassified as “domestic / domesticated animals” and “pets”. Such would help the industry and if herptile enthusiast began using such terms in writing and presentations – while it would take time – change the outlook of the public and intrusive regulatory entities. This could be a USARK strategy and goal.

Britannica defines “pet” as: "Pet, any animal kept by human beings as a source of companionship and pleasure."

There exist online ads for rattlesnake meat. Unknown to me if they actually sell such products. A few examples – more exist online:



This one purport to sell “whole bone-in rattlesnake meat” and “boneless Burmese python meat”. The Burmese meat is labeled “domestic” !
Old 03-20-2024, 10:17 PM   #2
I'm not sure how viable it is economically once the snake gets large enough that it needs to eat something bigger than a jumbo rat. If you're going to feed the retic or burm a guinea pig or or fetal pig or a chicken or a rabbit so it grows bigger, why not just butcher and eat whatever prey the snake is eating?
Old 03-20-2024, 10:46 PM   #3
Martin Nowak
bcr229 - appreciate your comments. Respectfully, there are other methods of feeding them and other food sources. I am not at liberty to disclose elements of the business plan in this Forum. While business plans and pro forma are guidelines - I tested the model for two years - two year cycle of breeding Burmese pythons and raising the young. We were also able to obtain a fair amount of information and data from Burmese breeders. Burmese grow very fast under best relevant conditions. The model is more extensive and the outcomes of the test were quite positive financially. If culturally the meat were accepted as a food source in the U.S. - I remain bullish on the financial opportunity. And no start up business is without risk of course. As a "senior reptile keeper" I recall the days when alligator farming and turtle farming were considered non-viable. How wrong those notions were. Still, it's all untested opinion till someone decides to fully test the notion.
Old 03-20-2024, 10:53 PM   #4
Martin Nowak
One other aspect is the paper indicates that conversion of intake calories to edible protein meat was multiple times higher in pythons than in mammals such as cattle and pigs. And, the carbon footprint much smaller and methane production essentially non-existent with pythons.
Old 04-23-2024, 10:33 PM   #5
Manmade climate change is the biggest lie promoted by the richest elites to tax the last cent out of the working class.....Cleptocrats.... Let THEM eat bugs!
Old 04-24-2024, 08:20 AM   #6
Originally Posted by madagascarboid View Post
Manmade climate change is the biggest lie promoted by the richest elites to tax the last cent out of the working class.....Cleptocrats.... Let THEM eat bugs!
"we expect even greater global economic and climatic volatility in the future"
Old 04-24-2024, 08:22 AM   #7
I have read that pythons bioaccumulate toxins at a higher rate that mammals because they don't sweat or defecate/urinate(Urate) as often. Have you found that to be a problem, or any new studies proving otherwise
Old 04-24-2024, 10:08 AM   #8
Martin Nowak
A very good question. As apex predators it is reasonable to think that toxins / heavy metals / forever chemicals would be found and perhaps accumulate in snakes (and lizards). Bio-toxins are known to accumulate in muscle tissue of some turtles, especially box turtles in North America from consumption of poisonous mushrooms. Crocodilians also accumulate environmental toxins and heavy metals.

The term “reptile ecotoxicology” is frequently used in this field of study.

A quick literature review indicates increasing interest in recent years of using reptiles in environmental contamination studies as valid biomarkers. Readers can do online search and find many recent and ongoing studies in this area of environmental contamination analyses. Typically, contamination in animals is done during necropsy and samples from liver and kidney are often utilized. The literature I reviewed for this response indicate adequate sampling in reptiles can be done without killing the animal by taking scale(s) and/or small needle biopsy. Still, liver and kidney tissue often remain the preferred contaminant sites for research.

The question ponders if snakes can excrete or “get rid of toxins” absent sweating mechanisms. I am not a veterinarian – perhaps one will jump in here – but snakes excrete via two physiologic mechanisms and reptile vets take this into account when, for example, injecting antibiotics. This might have pertinence to how contaminants might be excreted by snakes.

There is evidence that “many” or “most” toxins accumulated by snakes move to the skin and are eliminated by shedding. Study in New Jersey northern pine snakes:

This 2021 Australian study of metalloid contamination in the western tiger snake (Notechis scutatus occidentalis) indicates that metals accumulate in scales via binding with the keratin. Would seem to confirm the above pine snake study of an excretion route.

In my brief literature review I did not find a snake report of amount “skin excretion vs liver / tissue retention” of contaminants. Reptile ecotoxicology is a very recent field of study and while many reports exist; there remain many more voids in understanding the issues.

Overall report from the University of Tennessee:

Savannah River Station:

“Brown watersnakes (Nerodia taxispilota) as bioindicators of mercury contamination in a riverine system”

If you read only one of these references, the following may be the best for gaining a lot of insight. For example, water dwelling snakes accumulate more mercury than arboreal and terrestrial snakes (e.g. water snakes, moccasins). In the Everglades, Burmese pythons have a higher load of mercury than non-predator fauna. Virginia water snakes accumulate more mercury than snapping turtles in the same waters. Reference to, and a number of other studies, in this paper indicate low maternal transfer of mercury to live birth and to eggs and did not seem to negatively affect reproduction or egg viability. This paper also indicates snakes do not have to be euthanized for toxicant studies. And more info.

However – I think the context of the question relates to pythons being a potential human food source. I did not find comparisons of muscle contamination in snakes versus that in mammals (and fish) which are common food sources (meaning, agriculturally bred cattle, pigs, chickens, catfish, and so forth). It is my opinion that under captive conditions, one could raise pythons as a human food source without any more contamination than that found in agriculture produced mammal and fish species. Control the food source of agriculturally raised pythons and the meat should be “as clean as a steak or pork chop”.

These studies also have important relevance to what and how reptile keepers feed their captive animals. Rodents raised on proper and uncontaminated diets are best. Keepers with species such as king cobras might consider whether or not to feed wild caught snakes to their kings. Keepers with large boids might consider whether or not to feed wild rabbits to their snakes. Or feed wild caught fish to their water snakes. And so forth.

Reptiles also accumulate radioactivity which can be used for environmental monitoring. I previously reported in FC about turtles accumulating radioactivity in their shells.

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