Even the most seasoned expert should never drop his guard when handling these deadly snakes, or dead snakes. A chef died in a southern Chinese snake soup shop when he was bitten by an Indochinese spitting cobra that he had decapitated 20 minutes earlier, according to reports that emerged last year. It is a plausible scenario, as I saw first hand many years ago in Japan. A friend of mine who used to boast of outdoor survival skills he had learned in the Turkish army spotted a common looking greenish brown snake at a building site we were both working on. He leapt at it with a shovel and chopped its head off, quickly bagging up the carcass. The head lay on a pile of gravel snapping and gasping for a good twenty minutes. The rest of its coiled body writhed and twitched for several hours as we travelled back to the migrant labourers’ dorm we shared. Later he skinned, boned it and grilled it. It was tough and tasteless.