The snake bile cafe and other recent herpetological news stories

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The Independent Culture
Earlier this week, two Koreans were charged with making an illegal medicine and selling it to tourists at a restaurant in Thailand. The "medicine", supposedly an aphrodisiac, was made of snake bile glands, ground snake, and dried snake genitals. It was sold in fresh bile capsules or Cobra soup.

Two Chinese girls last year set a world record by living for 12 days in a room with 666 cobras and 222 other snakes. The previous record was 10 days with 200 snakes.

Russell Crowe, a 27-year-old gardener from Florida, decided that he did not want to cut grass for the rest of his life, so bought 40 cobras and planned to set up a business selling snake venom. Last week, however, his plans were in some disarray as he entered a no-contest plea in Brevard County Court to three charges of housing snakes in an unsafe and unsanitary manner and allowing one to escape.

Attila Toeroek, a director of Lentil Guard Security Service in Budapest, hopes to offer a service hiring vipers to protect property. For burglars who ignore the "Beware of the snake" signs, he plans to have doctors on 24-hour call.

An airline passenger arriving in Krasnodar, Russia, last October had his luggage confiscated when it was found to contain 200 poisonous snakes and one bag of turtles.

Pilots on Russian internal flight Tu-154 last July had to remain absolutely still in their cockpit for three hours after seeing a snake. It was thought to have slithered aboard in China the previous day.

Sri Lanka has the highest rate of snake-bite deaths in the world, having risen from fifth place in 1990 to first last year, ahead of Burma and Nigeria. In central Anuradhapura district alone, 1,300 people died of snake bites in 1994.