What would you do if you were stranded in a South Asian jungle without anything to eat or drink? Well, according to the survival training that U.S. Marines recently received, you should drink cobra blood. As the New York Post reports, the officers were directed to drink the snake’s blood during Cobra Gold, an intense annual military exercise that’s being held in Thailand.
According to the article, officers from the Royal Thai Marines advised that cobra blood could provide invaluable nutrients in a scenario where both water and food are scarce. In photos from the event, you can see several officers in their camouflage uniforms tilting their heads back to drink the blood directly from the serpent’s body. One U.S. Marine who had previously participated in Cobra Gold told the Post that the blood had a distinct “fishy flavor.”
Although cobra venom is deadly, their blood isn’t poisonous.
The troops were also taught how to eat other animals that are normally considered inedible, like scorpions and spiders. Their training covered foraging healthy plants for sustenance as well.
As Vice notes, the cobra’s meat and blood is a delicacy in Southeast Asia and is consumed for its presumed health benefits. They interviewed one vendor who sells the blood in a shot glass in Indonesia. She advertises that it can heal low and high blood pressure, rheumatism, diabetes, and skin conditions like eczema and acne, among other ailments. It’s also believed to improve sexual endurance in men.
“In my opinion, it’s more of a mental suggestion when it comes to improving male virility,” the vendor said to Vice. “It helps certain people, but doesn’t work for others. Since snakes improve stamina, men might last longer in bed. But they are good for skin, that one I can guarantee.”
Selling cobra blood is dangerous, she said, since people value the venomous snakes over ones that have been de-fanged. But it pays off because they can sell products made from multiple parts of its body, including its bones and skin.
Cobra Gold has brought together military personnel from Japan, China, India, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the U.S. According to Arab News, the United States sent 2,000 U.S. Marines, 1,000 U.S. soldiers and several officers from the Navy and Air Force to take part. Besides eating snakes, spiders, and scorpions, the officers will also participate in humanitarian and disaster relief drills.
Cobra Gold comes to an end on February 22.