I was in Vietnam recently and I took a shot of grain alcohol mixed with blood from a freshly killed cobra.

That was close to a month ago and I didn't die or get sick, but I'm wondering how dangerous this was. The cobra was definitely of the venomous sort. What are the risks posed here?

  • 6
    Y'all, food safety is and always has been on topic here. Please take it to meta if you want to discuss something about that. Conversation centered around that has been moved to chat.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jul 24, 2018 at 22:52
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    Note the distinction between something being venomous and being poisonous. Venomous means that it can inject poison into you; poisonous means that the animal's body as a whole is toxic to eat. Very few snakes are actually poisonous. (Note that the parts of a venomous snake's body that produce the actual venom will be poisonous, but their ordinary flesh mostly isn't). Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 14:22
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snake_wine
    – Joshua
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 16:07
  • 3
    Folks, I can't move comments to chat more than once. If you post something that's anything besides suggesting improvements to or requesting clarification about the question (e.g. answers, partial answers, discussion of related topics), it will likely be deleted.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 17:24

1 Answer 1


According to Biological risks associated with consumption of reptile products International Journal of Food Microbiology, Volume 134, Issue 3, 15 September 2009, Pages 163-175:

People are documented to have been infected with the following pathogens due to raw snake consumption:

Spirometra (Vietnam is specifically mentioned)

Gnathostoma doloresi


See also Spirometra (Pseudophyllidea, Diphyllobothriidae) Severely Infecting Wild-Caught Snakes from Food Markets in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, Guangdong, China: Implications for Public Health The Scientific World Journal Volume 2014, Article ID 874014:

In China, there are a lot of cases of human sparganosis caused by eating raw meat of snakes and frogs, drinking snake blood, and swallowing snake gall bladder [16]. Improper cooking methods of snakes will also increase the risk of infection, such as snake skin salad and halfcooked snake meat. In addition, Spirometra may contaminate tableware and food in the process of cooking snake meat. In the year of 2011, a patient suffered from bronchial sparganosis because he had a history of ingesting raw frogs, snakes, and drinking raw snake blood [17]. Another case of cerebral sparganosis reported in 2012 was caused by eating frogs and snakes [18]. In a separate report in 2003, all of the 11 patients infected by Spirometra had the habit of eating raw meat and skin of animals and 6 of them ate snake meat, blood, or snake gall [19]. In 104 cases from 2000 to 2006, 53.9% were caused by eating snakes or frogs [16].


More than half (55.0%) of the snakes were infected by Spirometra

Finally, concerning alcohol, see Effect of physicochemical factors on infectivity of Spirometra mansoni plerocercoid Zhongguo Ji Sheng Chong Xue Yu Ji Sheng Chong Bing Za Zhi. 2011 Oct;29(5):368-71 :

None of the mice fed with plerocercoids soaked in 60% ethanol for 2 h was infected. All the mice fed with plerocercoids soaked in 60% ethanol for 1 h, or in 50% ethanol for 2 h or 3 h were infected.

So even if the final concentration of alcohol after mixing was 60% (120 proof), and you wait 1 hour after mixing the blood and alcohol, it isn't necessarily sufficient to disinfect.

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    +1 This should be the accepted answer. Real data and real, not imagined pathogens.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Jul 25, 2018 at 20:41
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    @AlanMunn it (the answer, haven't read the paper) doesn't mention how many of those taking the drink got the disease. To put that into context, many medicines will have a very small risk of getting very bad diseases, the number of people getting those compared to those who don't get them is very small. Some statins, for example, may cause your stomach to break. Luckily, the rate of that happening is so low the medicine is still regularly prescribed. With life, everything has risks, and you have to consider those, as well as the benefits.
    – JJJ
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 5:36
  • @jjj Fair enough, but the answer doesn't claim to assess the risk, but it does give real information about actual reported pathogens and efficacy of alcohol to kill them. And given that the OP has already drunk the stuff, this seems quite useful information. As for the risk assessment, given that the benefit of drinking snake blood is largely social (being polite in the situation and/or bragging rights?) it's fair to say that even a small risk probably isn't worth it. Of course, YMMV.
    – Alan Munn
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 21:05
  • @AlanMunn depends on the situation. If you manage to catch one in a survival situation I'd like some roasted snake (probably steer clear of the head and poison gland, not sure if that degrades in the cooking process) with a blood-based soup. Just need to make sure to cook everything through.
    – JJJ
    Commented Jul 26, 2018 at 21:45

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