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Some Thais Buy the Head of a Monocled Cobra to Help Their Son’s Asthma

I won’t say where I saw this, but I saw it first-hand. My friend that keeps monocled cobras – Naja kaouthia – has turned it into somewhat of a business. Sometimes people come to him for the fresh head of a monocled cobra – which is what happened the other day.

I arrived just at the right (wrong?) time to see my friend cutting off the head of a 1.5 meter monocled cobra with a pair of scissors. Who would have guessed scissors would cut right through the neck and spinal column quickly and efficiently? Not me. Of course I’ve never done it either.

He put the head in a plastic zip-lock baggie and gave it to a young Muslim couple that paid for it. The price was 300 THB ($9 USD).

I asked the couple – “What do you need a cobra head for?”

We have a young baby and he has asthma. (this is all in Thai – I am translating here).

We sprinkle the blood from the head of the cobra on the top of his head, cook it and do it some more – in a ceremony – and this helps the boy grow up without asthma.

Incredulous that people can still believe such things – but, knowing full well – they believe all kinds of craziness here in Thailand, I said, “Yeah, really?”

Yes! It works for our people! They said…

So, that’s how it goes. Monocled cobras in Thailand are worth about $9 and are sacrificed for rituals that I’m sure have no scientific basis… just superstition. Some of you are probably wondering what the hell I was doing, standing idly by…

Well, just that. I don’t make the rules here in Thailand. God didn’t make Americans policemen of the world – though many of us think that. I’m not here to change Thailand’s culture… change superstitions. If killing cobras for their skins or head is the worst thing I see, I’ll count myself lucky. It hasn’t been though – I’ll tell you that right now.

Such is life in Asia… this probably doesn’t happen only in Thailand. If you move to another country – assimilate into it… or get the hell out. That’s my own view on the subject.


Snake posts by Vern Lovic. Amateur herpetologist roaming about Thailand on field herping tours and events to find king cobras, kraits, vipers, corals, keelbacks, and other snakes native to Thailand. FYI - Thailand has over 200 snake species. Here's our latest book with detailed information on Thailand's 35 Deadly Snakes. "Is That Snake In Your House Dangerous? Identify Deadly Thailand Snakes In Under 5 Minutes!" INFO HERE.

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10 years ago

Vern – That’s some superstition but one I won’t be investing $15 dollars into, despite me being an asthmatic. If you believe enough in these kind of things then they probably have some benefits. I’m not one to knock superstition but not one to join in either. I’ll stick to puffing on my Wonder Red’s and Ventolin.

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