Can you eat a poisonous snake?
In this short article, we will answer the question, ‘can you eat a poisonous snake?” and will also talk about the potential health hazards and how to safely prepare a poisonous snake.
Can you eat a poisonous snake?
Yes, you can eat a poisonous snake, after removing its head and preparing it properly. However, be aware that eating a poisonous snake has different types of severe potential hazards (1-4). The venom of poisonous snakes is very dangerous to humans. It could enter your body causing harm to your organs and tissues and even dead (1-3).
What are the potential health hazards of consuming a poisonous snake?
The potential hazards of eating a poisonous snake include poisoning (1-3), and getting a zoonotic disease (4). If you have eaten or you are planning to eat a poisonous snake, please consider the potential risks and seek advice from experts.
The risk can vary depending on the preparation methods and the type of snake.
What to do if you have eaten a poisonous snake?
If you suspect that you have eaten a poisonous snake, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. Call for emergency medical assistance right away!
The venom of a poisonous snake contains different toxins that are harmful to humans including neurotoxins and phospholipases (5), which can cause serious health complications and even death (1-3).
If you have a cut or open wound in your mouth, stomach, or anywhere else where the venom might enter your body, enter your bloodstream and cause harm to your organs and tissues (5), so it’s essential to get prompt treatment.
Don’t wait to see if symptoms develop before seeking help.
If possible, try to identify the species of snake that you consumed. This information can help medical professionals provide appropriate treatment.
How can you determine if a snake is poisonous or not before consuming it??
Determining if a snake is poisonous or not is always challenging, even more for those who are not familiar with different species of snakes. Nevertheless, there are some general guidelines that could help you:
- Look at the snake’s head shape: Most venomous snakes have triangular-shaped heads due to the venom glands, while most non-venomous snakes have more rounded heads.
- Check the snake’s eyes: Venomous snakes typically have elliptical or cat-like pupils, while non-venomous snakes have round pupils.
- Look at the snake’s body: Venomous snakes often have thicker, more muscular bodies than non-venomous snakes that kill their prey by constriction. They may also have distinctive patterns or coloration and other identifying features like rattles on their tails, and hoods or flaps of skin on their necks.
It is important to not rely only on visual cues and always consult an expert. In general, it is best to avoid handling or consuming snakes, especially those that are venomous.
How to safely prepare and eat a poisonous snake?
To safely prepare a venomous snake you should take the necessary precautions and seek expert guidance to minimize the risk of health hazards (4). It is very important that you carefully remove the head, where the venom gland is located and cook it properly.
You can follow this general guide:
- Starting at the base of the snake’s head, about 4 inches below the head, cut the snake. The snake should be hung by its tail at this point. This allows the snake to bleed without restriction.
- After that, it’s time to skin the snake. Using your fingers, start detaching the snakeskin on your belly from the head end, working your way down the length of the skin.
- Peel the skin away from the flesh starting at the top of the skull. After that, the snake’s entrails should be removed and disposed of properly.
- The snake has reached the stage when it is ready to be eaten. However, if you have the opportunity, chop the snake into smaller pieces and immerse it in fresh, cold brine for a few minutes.
- Using a sharp knife, chop the snake into tiny pieces and coat with flour before frying in bacon oil or lard. Season the meat with salt and pepper before cooking it.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil, adding enough to cover the snake. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for another 1 1/2 hours, or until the vegetables are soft.
- While the snake is stewing, sauté onions, carrots, celery, and garlic in bacon oil until they are translucent. Once you’ve done that, peel and dice some potatoes to get started. Cook the veggies in the pan with the snake in it until the potatoes are done.
- Simple methods of cooking snakes include roasting them on wooden skewers over an open fire or frying them in a pan with a little oil. Snakes are a fantastic source of protein, and after you get over your dislike of eating them, you’ll find that they’re very delicious.
How to safely dispose of a poisonous snake’s head?
Make certain that the head is disposed of as quickly as possible, since they may continue to bite for many hours (6). Bury the head in the ground. Snake venom remains stable and toxic for weeks (7).
You should avoid handling the head with your bare hands, since this may cause injury (6).
What is the risk of eating a raw or undercooked snake?
Eating a raw or undercooked snake can make you sick. Raw or undercooked snake meat could contain pathogenic bacteria (e.g., Salmonella and Shigella), parasites (e.g., Trichinellosis) and viruses that can make you sick (4).
It is important to make sure that the snake´s meat is properly cooked. You should go for an internal temperature of 165F at least!
What are the nutritional benefits of eating a properly cooked poisonous snake?
Snake flesh has protein in the same proportion as any other kind of meat (8). Protein is required for the development of several physiological systems, including the creation of muscles.
In addition to providing amino acids that the body cannot get in any other manner, protein also contains amino acids that are involved in a broad variety of functions in the body, ranging from cell wall construction to hormone regulation.
Snake flesh has about 93 calories per 100g (3.5 oz) of raw meat, with the amount varying according to the species (8). When compared to a comparable quantity of sirloin beef steak, this contains about half the calories and one-third the fat (8).
When dieting, those who eat fewer calories and fat per pound of beef may have an easier time maintaining a healthy weight.
In this short article, we answered the question, ‘can you eat a poisonous snake?” and also talked about the potential health hazards and how to safely prepare it.
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6. Titelbaum N V, Elbadri S, Wilson JL, Desai B, Falgiani M. Viper-induced Consumptive Coagulopathy from a Decapitated Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake. Cureus [Internet]. 2020 Jan 6 [cited 2023 May 1];12(1). Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6999724/
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8. Jones A. Meat. World Protein Resour [Internet]. 1974 [cited 2023 May 1];63–96. Available from: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-94-011-7161-8_10