Chinese woman in coma after being bitten by deadly snake she bought online

The 21-year-old is believed to have decided to keep the venomous many-banded krait as a pet

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 July, 2018, 4:11pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 July, 2018, 9:36pm

A 21-year-old woman is in a coma and on life support in a hospital in northwest China after she was bitten by a highly venomous snake she is thought to have bought online, local media reported on Thursday.

The woman, identified only by the pseudonym Xiaofang, was bitten on her finger at her home in Weinan city in Shaanxi province on Monday, according to China Business Report.

The report suggested the woman had been keeping the many-banded krait, a species found in much of China and Southeast Asia – including Hong Kong where the government warns it is “lethal” – as a pet.

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The woman’s parents were quoted as saying their daughter had called for help after being bitten and she reported feeling dizzy and nauseous about an hour later.

They took her to a local hospital but she soon lapsed into a coma.

The hospital did not have any supplies of antivenin to treat bites from the many-banded krait, which has the scientific name Bungarus multicinctus, because the species is not common in the region. This meant she was not given a shot of the antidote until the following evening.

On Tuesday the woman’s parents reported to police that the snake was missing and later that day a dead snake – subsequently confirmed to be a many-banded krait – was found a short distance from the family’s home.

Xiaofang’s family said chat logs from her phone suggested she had bought the snake via an online shopping platform, but did not have any further information about the seller or how she had taken delivery of the snake.

Many-banded kraits are on a list of protected rare and endangered species in China, and it is illegal to hurt or sell them.

However with so little information to go on – even the name of the platform used to buy the snake remains unknown – there is little the police can do at present.

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Records indicated that the seller had informed Xiaofang that the creature was venomous, the report said.

Although Xiaofang told the seller she planned to use it to make “snake wine”, a traditional Chinese medicine made by leaving the animals to ferment in alcohol, her parents said she apparently had second thoughts and had been keeping the animal as a pet.