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Inside Nigeria’s Largest Snake Market

Welcome to Badagry Snake Market. It is arguably the biggest snake market in these climes. Tucked at a corner of the Badagry main market, it takes care of the needs of snake lovers. There, baskets and bags of different species and sizes of dried and fresh snakes are displayed and sold to enthusiastic buyers, who throng the place every market day. Some of the buyers come from near and distant places. It was gathered that most of those who come to Badagry to buy snake meat are women who operate restaurants. However, some come to buy for personal or family use.
Investigation reveals that the snake market holds every eight days. But if it falls on a Sunday, it will be moved to the next day. It could not be ascertained why business is not done there on Sundays. One of the traders, who identified herself simply as Iya Azeez, said: “Na so we see am o. I don’t know why there is no market on Sundays here.”
Inside the Canine Cuisine Market
The reporter was at the snake market and witnessed brisk business going on there. You stop in your tracks as you step into the market to behold baskets and bags of fresh and dried snakes, among other creepy creatures. In fact, an eerie feeling enveloped the reporter when he saw the stacks of snake meat. But for the buyers and sellers, it was business as usual, as they went about their transaction like other traders. For them, snake is like any other meat; there is no fuss about it.
Both the sellers and buyers of snake meat begin to arrive the market early in the morning. In fact, if you do not get to the market early enough, you may not see any snake to buy because the demand is quite high.
For instance, a reporter got to the market at about 9.30am and almost everything had been sold out. Only a few baskets were on display and within minutes, they were gone too. The early callers were seen packing the coils of snakes into bags and baskets.
“If you really want to buy a large quantity of snakes, you must come early. You must be here not later than 7.00 in the morning. Otherwise, you may have to buy from retailers and the price will not be the same. The best time to come is from 6.00am,” explained one of the traders.
Snakes are not exactly cheap at the market. One large snake can cost up to N1400 while a small one can cost between N400 and N500. And if you want a live snake, you can place an order with one of the dealers and she will bring it to you the next market day.
Investigations revealed that a large chunk of the snakes sold at the market were ‘imported’ from the neighbouring Togo and the Republic of Benin. Over the years, they have maintained steady supplies from their farms. Apart from snakes, other special delicacies sold in the market include frogs, alligators, tortoise, snails, bush meat and dried fish.
In Love with Snake
People really love snake meat; there is no doubt about it. And people attribute different kinds of taste to it. Some say snake meat tastes like fish; some say it is like chicken. Yet, others say it has a peculiar taste, something better tasted than described.
“If you have not tasted snake, you don’t know what you are missing. It is a tasty meal. I think it is better when prepared as pepper soup but you can also use it to prepare soup or stew. There is nothing like it. I’m in love with snake meat,” volunteered a young woman, who identified herself as Iya Lekan.
She said that she could not afford not coming to buy snakes every market day, otherwise her customers would not be happy with her. She added that business had been good.
Take this from Ebere Torti, an indigene of Abia State: “Sure, I do eat snake meat. It tastes like chicken. I eat it at a restaurant at Idimu, Lagos, at the cost of N300 per plate of snake pepper soup. They also do ‘point and kill’ which is sold for N1500. But when I was in the village I used to kill it by myself. I used to roast and eat the meat. In fact, I really like snake meat.”
When reminded about the poisonous venom said to be present in the bones of snakes, Ebere quipped: “People say that but I’ve not noticed such since I started eating snake.”
Source: The Sun

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