Different countries have different customs. So I don’t judge other cultures, merely because their ways seem foreign. Asian snake wine is definitely foreign to me, but maybe there’s a point to the belief that venom from a snakebite has healing effects on people suffering from arthritis and rheumatism.
There are several documented cases of people whose symptoms decreased after a bee sting. As a result, the compounds in bee venom are being researched to discover what caused this relief. So it’s quite possible that similar compounds are present in snake venom.
Even though venom is broken down by alcohol, and its effects are therefore dubious, snake wines or whiskeys are quite common in Asia. So who am I to judge whether or not they figured something out that other cultures haven’t yet. What I will judge though, is the often inhumane way that this venom is put into the bottle. Stuffing a living snake in alcohol until it slowly dies is just wrong.
Even though animal cruelty is definitely not only an Oriental issue, too many Asians could really use a more Buddhist approach to animals. There are more efficient and less cruel ways to extract the snake’s venom. So it’s hard to miss the poetic justice when wine snakes strike back.
Revenge of the Serpent
There have been several cases of snakes that survived in a wine bottle for months. As long as they have access to some air, they can go into hibernation, only to wake up when the bottle is empty and the owner wants to refill it.
Of course the one recorded Chinese fatality in 2001 was tragic, but can you blame the snakes for striking back? It’s called self-defense. Besides they were probably pretty grumpy; they just woke up, with a huge hangover…