A chef in China cooking a soup dish made from cobra flesh died after he was bitten by the snake’s head, 20 minutes after it was cut off, according to British media.
The victim identified as chef Pen Fan had been preparing the special dish made from Indochinese spitting cobra, according to the Daily Mail, when the snake’s severed head bit him as he was throwing it into the garbage.
The chef, who was from the Guangdong province in southern China, died before he could be administered the anti-venom in hospital, the Daily Mirror reported.
A restaurant guest Lin Sun, 44, told the Daily Mail he was celebrating’s his wife’s birthday when the commotion began.
“We did not know what was happening but could hear screams coming from the kitchen,” he said. “There were calls for a doctor in the restaurant but unfortunately by the time medical assistance arrived the man had already died.”
Snake expert Yang Hong- Chang, who specifically studies cobras, told the Mail reptiles can function up to an hour after losing body parts.
“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,” he said.
Naja siamensis, or the Indochinese spitting cobra, can grow up to 1.2 metres in length and produce a deadly neurotoxin, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. If cornered, the snake can also rear up and spit venom in the attacker’s eyes which can lead to permanent blindness.
© 2014 Shaw Media