Chen Chih-fang said he has heard that most of the snakes for consumption are now raised in farms, but Hung said that many of those seen in restaurants are wild snakes.
Responding to questions about the source of the snakes and food safety regulations, the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine said that because snakes are not listed as an economic livestock, they are not regulated by the bureau, but the Forestry Bureau regulates the capture of all protected species.
“The source of the snakes is unknown … the owners usually say they were purchased from a farm,” an unnamed official at the Taipei City Government’s agency for animal protection said.
The official added that restaurant owners could be fined if the snakes they sold were protected species, as stipulated by the Wildlife Conservation Act (野生動物保育法).
The majority of the snakes seen at restaurants are not in violation of the act because they are unprotected species, such as the big-eye rat snake or the dhaman rat snake, the official said, adding that recent inspections have not uncovered any public killings.