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Eating A Snake

My youngest daughter reached into the nesting box to collect the day’s eggs as she had done many times before. It’s a routine that she enjoys, helping Mommy collect the eggs. Yet this time was different. She abruptly withdrew her hand with a startled shriek. “I don’t want to touch the snake!”

Fortunately Laura was with her and quickly intervened. She dispatched my daughter to get me. I came with hoe in hand. I pulled the chicken snake out of the box and “took care of it.”

A Surprise Inside

If you’ve raised chickens, you may have had a similar experience. Chicken snakes love eggs. They swallow them whole and then use their muscles to crack the eggs internally.

There were a couple of lumps in this snake’s mid-section. Eggs, we thought. We tried breaking them, but couldn’t. Was the snake’s body holding the eggs so tightly that we could not break them from the outside?

We decided to check. So we dissected the cold-blood egg bandit and found not eggs, but golf balls!

It seems that the golf balls that we’d placed into the nesting boxes to encourage the poultry to lay their “chicken balls” there had also fooled the snake. I can’t believe that it would mistake one for the other, but it did. Not once, but twice!

A Delicacy To Some

I’ve seen on some survivals shows that snakes can be used as a survival food. In fact, some cultures, I’m told, even consider snake to be a delicacy (though no one ever seems to know exactly which cultures value snakes as a food.)

At the kids’ request, we decided to try it.

Dressing A Snake

Preparing a snake for cooking is just about as easy as it gets. Compared to a snake, dressing a chicken, squirrel, or deer seems really complicated and involved.

How to prepare a snake:

  1. Kill the snake. This is obvious but it’s worth mentioning. You can kill them in a variety of ways. One of the more common methods for the survivalist with limited tools is pinning its head to the ground with a forked stick and using your knife to sever it from the body. Be careful with this as some snakes are poisonous. And even those that aren’t can bite and cause infections.
  2. Remove the head if not done in step 1.  Again, take care around the head. It can still bite you after it’s dead. If it’s a poisonous snake, it’s best to bury the head to keep other from accidentally finding it.
  3. Make a 1/2 inch slit along its underside. Use a sharp knife or rock to cut a 1/2 inch slit along the length of the snake and peel the skin back like a collar.
  4. Remove the skin. Pull the 1/2 inch flap of skin toward the tail. This will effectively turn the skin inside out, like removing a sock from your foot.
  5. Cleanse. Use your thumb to remove the intestines and other internal organs. Water helps.

The snake is now ready to cook.

Snake: A Survival Dinner

We decided to prepare this snake as a survival meal. We didn’t use seasonings or cookware. We wanted to simulate the experience of eating snake in the bush, as if we were stranded and needed to survive with minimal supplies available to us.

The kids gathered tinder, kindling, and firewood for the impromptu cook fire. I grabbed my magnesium block from my Every Day Carry kit and easily started the cedar shavings tinder bundle. We used some green limbs to hold the snake over the fire and we smoked it for quite a while.

After making sure that it was cooked thoroughly, we removed it from the heat and let it cool a bit before trying it.

Food Critic

Our experiment with cooking a snake was a good one. We learned some good lessons from the experience.

First, some snakes, such as rattlesnakes, can provide quite a meal for the survivalist. They are meaty and offer important calories. Chicken snakes are not one of those snakes. Chicken snakes are very thin and have little useable meat.

Second, although easy to do, smoking the chicken snake made what meat there was very dry and leathery. It was a bit difficult to pull the meat off of the carcass. It was almost like eating a leather belt. I think next time, I’ll try making a soup out of it. Or perhaps simply cooking it less.

I’ve heard of people eating the bones of animals. We didn’t try that. You’d have to be very careful to chew the bones very well to keep them from getting lodged in your throat.

What’s Your Favorite?

Have you tried eating snake or another animal that may be available to you in a survival situation? Squirrel? Opossum? Snails? Earthworms? How was it?

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24 Comments on “Eating A Snake”

  1. Jarhead Survivor Says:

    My grandfather on my Dad’s side was a full-blooded Micmac Indian. Every time I’d go to Canada to visit he’d call me up and say, “Boys oh boys. I’ve got an awful good feed today. C’mon over and have dinner,” in his thick accent. He loved boiled beaver, boiled rabbit, boiled porcupine, boiled salmon… detecting a pattern here? We’d have some kind of boiled meat along with potatoes and vegetables.

    He was a great hunter and trapper and even made a large archaeological discovery in N.B. which was named after my family. Cool eh?

    Reply

  2. Arsenius the Hermit Says:

    I had to eat snake when the Navy sent me through SEAR school at Pensacola, Fl in the mid 1970’s. I remember they boiled it in a coffee can over a wood fire, and the snake twisted around in the boiling water although it had been cleaned and skinned. Then after we ate it, the instructor said he probably didn’t cook it long enough and we would all get worms.

    These were the same guys that dumped us off the back of an LCV in Pensacola bay, where we had to bob around and wait our turn for a helicopter to come pluck us out of the water. They amused themselves by waiting til dolphins came by us in the water, then yelling “shark, shark!”

    Reply

  3. Sunflower Says:

    I am in the mood for snake salad now. Not sure which spices would work best. Pepper, chili, curry? – Nice article. Thanks for exploring with the snake meal. I had not thought of snakes. We have them here – plenty are run over on the road. In the future, I will consider trying one out as a meal. My husband won’t like it. It will be interesting to see if the dogs will like snake also. I bet I will.

    Reply

    • Joe Says:

      Ha, Sunflower! Let me know how the snake salad turns out. I’d like to find better ways to try it than my first attempt.

      I do believe that some species will have more meat than the chicken snake that we tried. Look for those with more meat on them.

      Joe

      Reply

  4. Bob Says:

    I have had the pleasure of eating numerous snakes while growing up and being in the woods. By far, rattlesnake had the best flavor and biggest hunk of meat to offer. I have heard people say “it taste like chicken” but I disagree. It taste like snake. The flavor is quite good actually. The texture is very similar though. My grandfather taught me that If I kill it I better be eating it…

    Reply

    • Joe Says:

      Thanks for the comment, Bob! Yes, I have rattlesnake once or twice, but only at restaurants so that doesn’t really count. Good chefs can make make most anything palatable. But I suspect that rattlesnake is good.

      Like you, if we kill it, we eat it. We don’t trophy hunt; we hunt to put food on the table. The exception is if we are protecting our property/animals. For example, I may kill a coyote that is stalking my poultry but I’m not going to eat it.

      Joe

      Reply

  5. Suzie Says:

    My question was this::: if it is a poisonous snake.. then why just cuttting off the head kills the poison in it’s body? is it the heat that does that?
    Not sure if I will get notifications for this website.. could you email me at
    suzierose3@gmail.com? I’ve recently been gathering information about survival, growing your own food, soil etc… and thought this was interesting and wanted to archive the information :-) thanks!! and no, I”m not a survivalist.. just always curious about keeping my family safe just in case something bizarro happens someday. I like learning :-)

    Reply

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