Here are a couple of stories on a growing problem, or at least an always-evolving problem, the use of reptiles and amphibians as human food.
Popular among Asians and re-located rednecks, bullfrogs in San Francisco are bringing in the chytrid virus, a deadly amphibian disease that is wiping out frogs around the world. Here’s a well-written piece on the bullfrog dining issue by John Upton via NY Times Blog. For more on the virus or on frogs in general go to Kerry Kriger’s comprehensive Save the Frogs, and remember April 28 is Save the Frogs Day (which doesn’t, of course, mean leftovers).
The Washington Post recently had this story on the sale of live animals in Asian supermarkets–live crayfish, eel, bass, bullfrogs, etc.–which are often raised on farms. The Virginia state agent is wrong when he says in the story that history shows when wildlife is commercialized the population dwindles. History shows that when wildlife is taken from the wild on a commercial scale its population dwindles, but when wildlife is farmed, as is the case with the species in the story, that is not always the case. It depends how valuable the animal is price-wise, its reproduction rate, commitment of law enforcement, and the viability of its wild population: rabbits are better farmed, tigers are not. American alligators, once on the verge of extinction and now prolific and widely farmed, make a great case study. They do not, however, make for especially good eating.
My own version of these stories occurred at a pet store not long ago. I was looking at a pair of red-eared slider turtles swimming around a tank. An Asian woman standing next to me said to her boyfriend, “They’re so cute. I just want to take them home and have them for lunch.” I have heard the same thing about lobsters in Maine, sans the cute part.