Study shows pythons could provide sustainable meat for food insecurity

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Researchers on Thursday published a study about python farming in Scientific Reports and, according to their report, the massive snakes have the potential to address a global problem.

The study, authored by Daniel Natusch, Patrick Aust and six other scientists, said python farming “may offer a flexible and efficient response” to food insecurity, particularly in countries where people are increasingly dealing with the issue and are already open to eating reptile meat. 

It found the two types of pythons they studied were capable of exhibiting fast growth rates and maintaining body condition during periods of fasting. For the latter, the study said that “offers farmers the flexibility needed to regulate both feed inputs and product outputs in response to unpredictable external factors.”

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The snakes, which were humanely killed, also produced about one gram of meat for every 4.1 grams of food they were given on average, according to the study.

“Our study suggests that python farming can not only complement existing livestock systems, but may offer better returns in terms of production efficiencies,” the study said.

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Natusch said in a statement that pythons “outperformed all mainstream agricultural species studied to date” on “some of the most important sustainability criteria.”

The authors came to their findings after spending a year doing research on python farming that entailed tracking snakes’ growth rates and other data. Burmese and reticulated pythons farmed in Thailand and Vietnam served as the focus of their research, according to the study.

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Reticulated and Burmese pythons typically live in Southeast Asia. They can both grow up to 20 feet, according to reports.

In the study, the researchers noted some factors that could hinder “the agricultural potential of pythons.” Some of those included labor required to separately feed the snakes, technical expertise and some people’s fear of the creatures, according to the study.  

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