What is the owner of a king cobra — whose venom is so powerful a drop can theoretically kill up to 30 adult humans — supposed to do when their snake falls ill and has no appetite?
Huang Kuo-nan (黃國男), the manager of the World King Snake Education Plantation in Greater Tainan’s Gueiren District (歸仁), on Monday decided to take a risky approach to solving this problem by force-feeding his king cobra.
Huang said the king cobra, which is the longest venomous snake in the world, has been at the snake center for more than six years.
The snake is longer than 3.5m, weighs 6kg and is very aggressive, Huang said, adding that even safely behind the glass in its tank, the cobra often rears up and flares its hood at the sight of people.
Despite making many children cry, Huang said the cobra is the star of the snake farm and draws many visitors.
Huang said that on average, the king cobra eats one oriental ratsnake every 10 days, but it seemed to have caught a cold over the Lunar New Year holiday in February and had become gradually more lazy and less inclined to eat since then.
Three months ago, the snake stopped eating altogether, Huang said, adding that it has lost nearly 1.2kg.
Unable to think of an alternative, Huang said he had to try the highly dangerous option of force-feeding the snake.
With the help of other employees, Haung held the snake down, put it in a chokehold and forced a bottle of raw beef paste with egg yolk down its throat.
Though the process only took three minutes, Huang said they felt like the longest minutes of his life.
“We’ve had it in captivity for a long time, but king cobras are not known for their kind hearts,” he said.
The snake was moved to another cage for observation, but while the workers all heaved sighs of relief after safely completing their dangerous task, Huang said that if the cobra does not regain its appetite, another force-feeding may have to be carried out soon.