Friday, June 3, 2011

Snakes on a train

Ryan sent me this great article. Classic Vietnam:

Snakes on a train in Vietnam cause panic

Many highly venomous king cobras found in 100-pound bags on a Vietnamese train, most likely bound for the dinner table

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  • A king cobra

HANOI, Vietnam — Panic ensued after railroad staff found snakes on a train in Vietnam.

Railway officials discovered the snakes — highly venomous king cobras — in bags under a seat.

Railroad official Pham Quynh says passengers were terrified when four cloth bags containing the writhing cobras were spotted Friday. The snakes were alive but had their mouths stitched shut.

Quynh says the exact number of snakes was unclear but the bags weighed 100 pounds.

Security staff removed the cobras, which were likely destined for restaurants in Hanoi. Their owner apparently escaped in the chaos.

Snake meat is considered a delicacy in Vietnam, but cobras are protected by law.

Quynh says the cobras were given to forest rangers who released them into the wild Saturday after no one claimed them.

Of the species, National Geographic writes: "King cobras can reach 18 feet in length, making them the longest of all venomous snakes. Their venom is not the most potent among venomous snakes, but the amount of neurotoxin they can deliver in a single bite--up to two-tenths of a fluid ounce --is enough to kill 20 people, or even an elephant. Fortunately, king cobras are shy and will avoid humans whenever possible, but they are fiercely aggressive when cornered."