A chef preparing a meal of cobra flesh has died after the snake bit him some 20 minutes after the reptile’s head had been cut off.
The bizarre incident took place in Foshan, Guangdong province, in southern China, as chef Peng Fan was preparing a rare delicacy with an Indochinese spitting cobra.
When the cook went to toss the serpent’s severed head into the trash, the snake bit him, injecting him with its neurotoxic venom.
Local police say Peng died at the hospital before he could be given life-saving antivenin.
Chinese media quoted diners at Feng’s restaurant who suspected there was a problem when they heard screams emanate from the kitchen.
“We were in the restaurant having a meal for my wife’s birthday when suddenly there was a lot of commotion,” recounted restaurant guest Lin Sun, 44, who was dining with his wife Su at the time.
“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.”
A police spokesman noted: “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 antivenin could have helped but this was not given in time. It was just a tragic accident.”
Yang Hong-chang, a snake expert who has spent 40 years studying cobras, told reporters all reptiles can function for up to an hour after losing body parts, or even their entire body.
“It is perfectly possible that the head remained alive and bit Peng’s hand,” he said.
“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.”
WARNING: See graphic video of a cobra continuing to bite even after its head is severed: