Highly venomous runaway cobras on the loose in China

CC BY 2.0 Thomas Jaehnel/flickr

More than 200 baby monocled cobras, some of the deadliest snakes in the world, escaped from a farm in Nanjing; 50 remain at large.

Snakes on the plains! OK, I’m not really sure if the terrain in Nanjing, the capital of east China’s Jiangsu Province, can qualify as plains. But one thing is certain, there are a bunch of deadly snakes on the loose according to reports from Chinese news agencies.

This is what can happen when you have the brilliant idea to start a snake farm. Raising one of the world’s deadliest snakes. On a farm that is falling apart. Oh, and then you don’t tell anyone when 200 of the babies slither away through cracks in the floor.

Such is the story of Qin Guorong, 52, who bought a whole lot of snake eggs back in early August. It was his second year of being in the snake business, the first year was a flop, and he was hoping that this year he would find success in selling his deadly snakes to restaurants. Almost 2000 snakes hatched, of which 1,500 had survived.

But with nonstop rain compromising the foundations of his snakery, cracks formed and more than 200 of the monocled cobra tots hit the road. At the time, they were able to capture around 150 of them, but authorities weren’t notified of the great escape until this week when a villager found and killed one of the snakes in his home.

Monocled cobras are some of the deadliest snakes on the planet – a bite can result in death within an hour if not treated. Though official stress that the younger snakes aren’t as lethal … but still, how are you supposed to got to sleep at night knowing that there are 49 deadly snakes still lurking around?

The district government said it has brought in snake-venom serum from Shanghai and has medical personnel and ambulances waiting in the wings should anyone have an unfortunate encounter.

I always love a good “livestock makes a bolt for freedom” story, but this one could end all too tragically. For now, the farm has been closed and Guorong is under investigation. The fate of the snakes … who knows? But I’m guessing one thing's for sure: The rates of insomnia in the region will be spiking for a while.

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