China: Around The Nation

Chinese man bitten by dead snake he killed for Lunar New Year meal

Reflex in jaws of 70cm-long non-venomous oriental rat snake leads to it biting 60-year-old man’s hand as he skins reptile while preparing soup

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 January, 2017, 3:05pm
UPDATED : Monday, 30 January, 2017, 6:02pm

A Chinese man was taken to hospital after being bitten by a snake he had already killed and was planning to eat for a Lunar New Year meal, mainland media reported.

A reflex in the jaws of the dead, non-venomous oriental rat snake led to it biting the 60-year-old man as he was trying to skin it, the news website reported.

The man, surnamed Wang, had spotted the 70cm-long snake, about as thick as a man’s finger, curled up on the ground as he was taking a walk with his family on Saturday in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.

Wang thought the snake would make “some nice soup”, the report said.

He killed the snake after hitting it with a stick and a stone and then took it home in a plastic bag.

However, as he was trying to skin it a reflex in the snake’s jaws led to it biting his left hand. His palm became swollen and Wang became dizzy, the report said.

Wang’s family rushed him to hospital and took along the dead snake for doctors to identify.

Dermatologist Ying Hangyu confirmed the dead reptile was of the species Ptyas mucosa, which is commonly known as an oriental rat snake.

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This type of snake was often eaten by people in the south of China, Ying said.

While it was not venomous, the snake could still cause painful bites, which could cause infections, he said.

“Reptiles are known for retaining reflexes after death so they can still bite many minutes after decapitation,” Ying added.

He said people who were bitten by snakes should always to go to hospital immediately, but if was important not to run in case the snake was venomous because this would speed up the circulation of the venom in the victim’s bloodstream.

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People should, if possible, also take the snake along to the hospital so doctors could identify it and provide a suitable antidote for the patient.

Ying also warned people to make sure they were aware of their surroundings when spending time outdoors as spring approached and snakes became more active.

The report did not say whether the snake ended up being eaten by Wang and his family.