A Chinese chef has died after the severed head of an Indochinese spitting cobra he was preparing bit him twenty minutes after it was cut off.
Peng Fan had gone to throw the snake’s head in the bin when it bit him, with its fast acting venom working lethally before an anti-venom could be administered in the hospital, according to Daily Mail.
Screams coming from Fan, who was in the kitchen startled diners who were eating in the restaurant, one of which was 44-year old Lin Sun who was in company of Su his wife.
“We were in the restaurant having a meal for my wife’s birthday when suddenly there was a lot of commotion. We did not know what was happening but could hear screams coming from the kitchen. There were calls for a doctor in the restaurant but unfortunately by the time medical assistance arrived the man had already died. After we heard that we did not continue with our meal,” Sun said.
A spokesman for the local police said: “It is a highly unusual case but it appears to be just an accident. He prepared the snake himself and was just unlucky. There was nothing that could be done to save the man. Only the anti-venom could have helped but this was not given in time. It was just a tragic accident.”
Yang Hong-Chang, a snake expert with over forty years experience in cobra studies explained that all reptiles were capable of functioning for about an hour, even after losing their entire body.
Mr Yang said: “It is perfectly possible that the head remained alive and bit Peng’s hand. By the time a snake has lost its head, it’s effectively dead as basic body functions have ceased, but there is still some reflexive action. It means snakes have the capability of biting and injecting venom even after the head has been severed.”
The Indochinese spitting cobra – or Naja siamensis – is also known as the Thai or black and white spitting cobra and is commonly found in South Asian countries like Cambodia, Laos, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam with lowlands, hills, plains and jungles as their preferred habitat.