Could python farming offer hope for global food security impacted by climate change?

CAIRNS, Australia, March 14, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — New research suggests farming pythons could offer a viable alternative to conventional livestock in parts of the world where the challenges of the climate crisis, pandemics, and degradation of agricultural land are undermining global food production.

Lead researcher, reptile expert Dr Daniel Natusch, said: “In terms of some of the most important sustainability criteria, pythons outperform all mainstream agricultural species studied to date.”

Reptiles produce fewer greenhouse gases, require less water than do warm-blooded livestock, are more resilient to extreme climatic conditions, and they do not transmit dangerous diseases like bird flu or COVID-19.

This latest research, which monitored pythons in farms in Thailand and Vietnam, suggests these reptiles are a more efficient source of protein production than conventional livestock like poultry, pork, beef, and salmon.

Dr Natusch is the Chair of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Snake Specialist Group, comprising the world’s foremost snake experts.

“Conventional livestock systems, driven by energy intensive endothermic (warm-blooded) animals are faltering,” Dr Natusch said.

“Acute protein deficiency continues to compromise the health of millions of children, while at the same time demand for high quality protein among emerging middle-class consumers is soaring – so there is an urgent need to explore alternatives.”

Co-author of the paper, Africa-based ecologist Dr Patrick Aust, said: “Considering Africa is currently experiencing the brunt of an unprecedented El Nino-driven drought, where conventional livestock are dropping dead in the fields, the ability to regulate metabolic processes and maintain body condition that reptiles offer during times of famine could be a game changer for livestock production.”

“Some of the pythons in our study stopped eating for four months – 45 per cent of their lives – and lost almost no body condition,” Dr Aust said.

“Imagine not feeding a chicken for four months, it would be dead within four to five days.”

Dr Natusch said that over the last two decades, snake farming has expanded to include more species, production models, and markets, partly because of their competitive agricultural advantages.

“Global food security is predicted to worsen with climate change, and the agricultural sector will also suffer increasing compound effects from infectious diseases and diminishing natural resources,” Dr Natusch said.

“Ectotherms (cold-blooded animals) are up to 90 per cent more energy efficient than endotherms, and this readily translates into a potential for sustainable meat production.”

Dr Natusch believes in countries with a cultural precedent for eating reptiles, and where food security is increasingly compromised through the impacts of global challenges such as climate change, reptile farming offers potentially transformative opportunities.

“To seize this opportunity, we urgently need more research into the agricultural potential of reptiles, and the most effective and humane ways to produce this novel group of livestock animals.”

Python farming as a flexible and efficient form of agricultural food security, is published this week in Scientific Reports.


  • Video Interview with Dr Dan Natusch:
  • Video Interview with Dr Pat Aust:
  • Video Footage of python farms:

For more information or to schedule interviews with Dr Daniel Natusch please contact:

Aaron Smith, Communications Consultant: Phone: +61 435 337063
Email: [email protected]

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