China's 'Snake Village' Breeds More Than 3 Million Snakes A Year

china snake village

Photo: Aly Song/REUTERS

Residents of Zisiqao village in the Zhejiang Province of China are known for their snakes.According to Reuters, the 160 farming families that live there collectively breed over three million snakes annually for food and medicinal purposes.

Cobras, vipers, and pythons are not only a common sight in the small village, but a way of life: Serpents outnumber the residents 3,000 to one.

It has become quite lucrative for the residents to raise and sell the snakes, with some even earning tens of thousands of dollars for their efforts, according to the BBC.

It was Yang Hongchang, a 60-year-old farmer, who first introduced snake breeding to the village in 1985. When the wild snakes Hongchang used to catch and sell became scarce, he researched how to raise snakes at home instead. After three years of successful breeding — and a healthy profit — the other villagers began to emulate his methods.

The result is an industry unlike any other in the world, with millions of snakes being raised for food or traditional Chinese medicine that is not only sold in China, but exported to the United States, Germany, Japan, and South Korea as well.

Zisiqiao village is in the Zhejiang Province on China's southeastern coast.

It's primarily known for its Hangzhou Mountains, and for harvesting tea, cotton, and jute (a type of fibre).

Source: China.org.cn

Now let's enter Zisiqiao, the Chinese village that produces 3 million snakes annually.

Source: Reuters

You can find all kinds of dangerous snakes here, like cobras, vipers, and pythons.

Source: Reuters

Yang Hongchang, the man who introduced snake breeding to Zisiqiao, holds snakes at arm distance as he transfers them from the water.

Source: Reuters

The snakes are then put into mesh bags for easy transport. Check out these sacks full of snakes!

Source: Reuters

Then they are taken to be slaughtered. After their venom is harvested, the snakes head is chopped off.

Source: Reuters

Here, residents cut up a snake for its meat. Snake soup is said to be good for the immune system.

Source: BBC

The tails can be harvested for food...

Source: Reuters

...or left to air-dry and be made into medicine and powders.

Source: Reuters

Hongchang drops his dead snakes into a jar.

Source: Reuters

And then preserves them with alcohol at the snake farm.

Source: Reuters

Their meat will be sold to food manufacturers and their venom to pharmaceutical companies.

Source: Reuters

Here, a few villagers look closely at one of the jars full of snakes.

Source: Reuters

The end product: Hongchang enjoys a piece of snake meat at a restaurant in Zisiqiao.

Source: Reuters

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