Naturally, all crawling creatures – especially the snake – frighten the daylight out of any normal being. There are tribes in different zones in the country who worship pythons as a god. Besides the eerie nature of the snake, how safe or healthy is the creature for human consumption?
A medical consultant and nutritionist, Dr. Israel Eboghade told Daily Times that there are snakes and there are snakes.
“Generally, some species of snakes are recorded to have toxic or poisonous venoms in their make systems. It would take an expert to locate and isolate that part in the snake and cut it off. There is a similar organ in the domestic fowl which stores some very bitter substance; the locals easily identify and extract it before cooking the chicken. So in eating snakes, one should be well informed and cautious what type you eat.
“We cannot ignore the fact that some snakes may have swallowed poisonous creatures or eaten some inedible grass or herbs.
“However, if the meat is thoroughly cooked before being consumed, the process heat will eliminate the toxic substance in them but I must warn that any creature that is naturally toxic, no degree or amount of cooking will make it fit for human consumption,” Eboghade warned.
Of snake meat and frozen chicken:
With the recent discovery that imported chicken and turkey are unhealthy for human consumption, Daily Times sought the knowledge of a veterinary consultant in Ajao Estate, Dr. Majekodunmi Opeifa. He counselled extreme caution in making a choice in the matter, especially in this festive season.
“With the hazard of infections and artificial preservatives associated with frozen imported birds, especially chickens and turkeys etc, Nigerians should be careful in consuming such imports because the possibility of infection and disease is on the high side. Some of them if not all defreeze in the process of smuggling them in and they are frozen up again: there is high risk that the meats are not safe for human consumption.
“Consider the way some of these imports are smuggled in. It was in the news that some of them buried by health officials somewhere were exhumed by local villagers and those chickens and turkeys found their way into the open market again.
“The date the birds were slaughtered and frozen cannot be ascertained and since there is no way of certifying them fit by a medical personnel, it is not advisable that such meats be sold to the public no matter how cheap.”
Snakes not for pregnant women
As a parting gift for the Christmas, Dr. Opeifa warns that although snake meats may appear safer if properly detoxicated under the circumstances, it is not advisable for women, especially those still in their child bearing age to eat snakes.
People with some health conditions like ashma too will do well to keep away from snake meats.
Different strokes for different folks, as the saying goes. While some deight in eating of the creepy creature and others make a living out of it, another group of humans worship and idolise it. But here are two sides to the story of snakes delicacies for your Christmas enjoyment:
Magnus Mbakwe who spoke to Daily Times at Festac Town in Lagos said he loves snake meats with passion. “No matter what anybody says, snakes for life is my motto. I am only disappointed when they are in short supply.”
Another Igbo man, Innocent Ezekel has a special reason for eating snake meats. “I eat snake meat at every opportunity especially to spite the evil creature that caused man to fall, which brought all the problems upon mankind.
“Yes, I love chewing its meat between my teeth, swallow it and poo it out afterwards. That is what it deserves.”
Chief Frank Okudi, a business man from Ukwani Local Government of Delta State expressed his caution this way:
“I am a careful person, I can tell you. I won’t chance the risk of eating snake for any reason because no doctor can tell what its side effects would be in the near feature.
“Some of those celebrating the meats now may end up behaving funny in their latter days and nobody will know it is because they have been eating snakes in the past. God has given us so much alternatives – so, why the snake?”
The depth of the passion is summed up in the revelation that customers travel all the way down here at weekends from Badagry, Ikeja, Gbagada and other parts of Lagos to consume snake pepper soup.
We should not be surprised to hear one day that they have formed a snake meats pepper soup association of Nigeria!
Have a bold, adventurous and Happy New 2016!