While frog meat may not be a popular dish here in the States, it nonetheless is showing up on more and more menus throughout Europe; causing demand to spike and populations to dwindle. Particularly hard hit are Asian frogs -- which currently supply 95 percent of the world's frog meat. Some conservationists argue that unless something is done, the species will be driven into extinction by western appetites.

Fortunately, there is a solution on the table involving intensive farming of European frogs; an elusive idea that until recently was thought impractical. Unfortunately, critics argue that such a shift may actually do more harm than good. From New Scientist: 

"Disease spreads easily between frogs kept in close quarters, and they prefer expensive live prey to cheap food pellets, so they're not easy to raise. Another problem is that frogs hibernate for relatively long periods in cool European climates. So farming has thus far proven uneconomic."

Thanks, however, to André Neveu at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, that may all soon change. Using up to 1,000 froglets per square metre fed on floating pellets of fish meal, soya and other ingredients, Neveu was able to "grow" 29 kilograms of marsh frog meat per square metre. That's almost six times higher than numbers from other strains of European frogs.

While he won't reveal all his secrets, the researcher did disclose that he kept the pellets moving on the surface of the water to encourage the frogs to treat them as live prey.

Granted, as readers of MNN are aware, factory farming is not the best thing in the world for the environment -- especially when the food crop partially being used to raise the frogs is made from fish. Said James Collins, a frog conservation specialist at Arizona State University in Tempe: "Until we can find a way to feed frogs vegetable protein rather than fish protein, it may be better to simply harvest frogs sustainably in the wild rather than building elaborate, energy-intensive farms that rely on fish meal. But we're a long way off that."

Short of simply going vegetarian, one other researcher suggested that since frog legs "taste like chicken", people should just stick to that. There's no need to decimate yet another species simply because we're hungry.

Source: New Scientist

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Giant frog farms aimed at saving wild brethren
As the European appetite grows for frog meat, Asian species may be eaten into extinction.