Just in case you didn’t already think snakes were creepy enough…
The Daily Mirror reports that Peng Fan, a chef in China, who had been preparing snake soup, died after being bitten by the decapitated head of an Indochinese spitting cobra. The chef was reportedly bitten around 20 minutes after the snake had been beheaded.
The soup that was being prepared is considered a rare delicacy in China, where eating snakes is commonplace. But apparently, as the chef moved to dispose of the snake’s severed head into the trash can, he was bitten and injected with the venom of the spitting cobra, which is fast-acting and lethal. The man died before he could receive potentially life-saving anti-venom in the hospital.
Diners within the restaurant could hear the terrible tragedy unfolding. As one guest reported, “We were in the restaurant having a meal for my wife’s birthday when suddenly there was a lot of commotion.” He added:
“We did not know what was happening but could hear screams coming from the kitchen.”
The phenomenon of a snake managing to bite even after the head has been removed from its body can actually happen. As Dr. Lewin, director of California Academy of Science’s Center for Exploration and Travel Health, who is also an expert on venomous snakebites, explains, “The snake’s venom apparatus and jaw muscles are all contained in the head — as are the nerves that control these muscles and venomous glands. Unlike humans, snake tissue can withstand long periods without circulating blood…The tissue doesn’t lose function as quickly as a mammal and the reflexes remain intact.”
Dr. Lewin added:
“It’s a bit creepy to me because it blurs the meaning of being dead. People are susceptible to these reflexive bites probably because they are thinking of beheading from a human perspective.”
The Indochinese spitting cobra is found in southeast Asian countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Burma and Vietnam, typically in all types of areas, from the lowlands, hills, plains and jungles. The adult snakes range from around 3 feet to a maximum of about five feet in length. The snakes mainly feed on rodents, toads and other snakes. Primarily nocturnal, the Indochinese spitting cobra is more likely to flee during the daylight, but it will become more aggressive at night. The snake shows its aggression by displaying its hood and spitting venom.
Yes, you read that right. It can spit its venom at a victim which, if it lands in the eyes, can cause permanent blindness.
If lethally bitten, death is caused by paralysis and consequent asphyxiation.
This is not the first time questions about the phenomenon of snakes continuing to bite long after their heads are separated from their bodies. Last year, a video went viral that showed a copperhead snake engaging in the same behavior – on its own tail. And if you need visual proof of this phenomenon, watch the video below…and enjoy your nightmares.
(Warning: This video is graphic.)
[Image via Red Bubble]