Cobras bring home the bacon in Vietnamese town

By Giang Huy   June 11, 2018 | 01:18 pm GMT+7

More than a thousand households in Vinh Son breed and export around 200 tons of venomous snakes each year.

Just 62 kilometers (38 miles) northwest of Hanoi stands Vinh Son Town in Vinh Phuc Province, where the breeding of highly poisonous snakes, especially cobras, is the major vocation.

Handle with care: For an estimated 80 percent of the population in Vinh Son Town, breeding and distributing cobras and oriental ratsnakes is a traditional vocation. Each snake has a 30x30x60cm cubical cage.

Handle with care: For an estimated 80 percent of the population in Vinh Son, breeding and distributing cobras and oriental ratsnakes is a traditional vocation. Each snake has a 30x30x60cm cubical cage.

Primed to strike: High market demand sees Vinh Son breeders sell the snakes across Vietnam and to other Asian countries, mostly China. People buy these snakes to eat or soack with alcohol to make medicine. A snake weighing more than 1.5 kilograms can fetch VND700,000 per kilogram, those between 1-1.4 kilograms, VND600,000 per kilogram, and those below one kilogram, VND500,000 per kilogram. 

Primed to strike: High market demand sees Vinh Son breeders sell the snakes across Vietnam and to other Asian countries, mostly China. People buy these snakes as food or for soaking them in alcohol (rice wine) to drink. It is believed that such wine has medicinal properties. One of the most famous feats by late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain was eating a beating cobra's heart in Vietnam in his "A Cook's Tour" series, aired in 2002.

A bottle of snake wine on sale in Vietnam. Photo by Viethavvh

A bottle of snake wine on sale in Vietnam. Photo by Viethavvh

Just drink this: Binh, a cobra farm owner, tube-feeds a cobra. It takes almost three years for a newborn snake to reach 2 kilograms. Snake farm owners also feed them frogs and mice. An average household would have around 400 snakes, but some have up to a 1,000 of the reptiles.

Just drink this: Binh, a cobra farm owner, tube-feeds a cobra. It takes almost three years for a newborn snake to reach 2 kilograms. Snake farm owners also feed them frogs and mice. An average household would have around 400 snakes, but some have up to 1,000 of the reptiles. A snake weighing more than 1.5 kilograms can fetch VND700,000 ($30.87) per kilogram, those between 1-1.4 kilograms, VND600,000 per kilogram, and those below one kilogram, VND500,000 per kilogram. 

Incubator: Sand is used to protect the snake eggs, which are so soft and fragile that even the touch of a finger nail can crack them. It takes 60 to 70 days for the eggs to hatch.

Incubator: Sand is used to protect the snake eggs, which are so soft and fragile that even the touch of a finger nail can crack them. It takes 60 to 70 days for the eggs to hatch.

Watch this space: Snakes are allowed to mate during the winter, and the female snake lays eggs around March and April. Peak season prices can go up to VND90,000 per egg.

Watch this space: Snakes are allowed to mate during the winter, and the female snake lays eggs around March and April. Peak season prices can go up to VND90,000 per egg.

 
 
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