Man Tries To Kiss Cobra, Gets Bitten in Face Now Battling for Life

A man was bitten in the face by a cobra after he tried to kiss it, and is now battling for his life in hospital.

A video posted to Twitter by AH Siddiqui shows the man from Karnataka state attempting to kiss the common cobra.

As the man holds the snake to his lips, the reptile lunges forward and bites him on the mouth. The man then drops the snake.

Other villagers can be seen attempting to catch the highly venomous snake, as it slithers away.

In a caption to the video, Siddiqui said the man was "a reptile expert" who went to kiss the cobra after "rescuing it."

Stock photo of a King Cobra
Stock photo of a King Cobra snake iStock / Getty Images

Cobras are highly venomous snakes native to India, southern China, and Southeast Asia. They are considered one of the deadliest snakes in the world.

While its venom is not the most potent among all snake species, the amount administered in a single bite can be enough to kill 20 people.

"Sadly this kind of idiotic behavior is common here. There are literally thousands of snake 'rescuers' in India, some very serious and performing a valuable service, removing snakes from houses and gardens and releasing them elsewhere away from people," Romulus Whitaker, India-based herpetologist of the Madras Crocodile Bank, which works to educate villagers on snakebites, told Newsweek.

"But others, like this dude, are publicity hungry and do something crazy like free-handling the snake, putting it around their neck, or kissing it. We know of at least 25 of them fatally bitten over the last few years. Snakes are scared to death of humans and only bite in self-defense."

Whitaker said the snake in the video is a spectacled cobra "which has a powerful, mainly neurotoxic venom. [It] can kill a human within hours if enough is injected in a bite."

Jose Louies, director at the Wildlife Trust of India and founder of Indian Snakes—an initiative that aims to spread education and awareness to avoid snakebites in the country—told Newsweek that this man is now battling for his life in hospital.

He said there has been a rise in instances such as this, as man "do stunts to attract local and digital media attentions."

"The snake does not attack [unless] provoked. Kissing it on the hood is definitely crossing the limits to poke the snake," Louies said.

"About 50,000 people die every year due to snakebites in India. Most cases don't get treated in hospitals as the victims are taken to traditional healers for treatment. Proper prevention methods and effective treatments can reduce the mortality. Also, we need to make people aware about snakebites. This guy is battling for his life in a hospital. He seems to be not an expert who could understand the snake and its behavior."

According to the World Health Organization, about five million snakebites occur in India each year.

They are a particular problem in rural areas, as people do not have fast access to antivenom. A bite from a highly venomous snake such as a cobra requires a large amount of antivenom, administered at a hospital.

"The reality is that snakebites often happen in remote places where transport to a hospital could take hours and people strongly believe in local healers located in their village," Whitaker said.

"Since most snakebites are not fatal the local healers with their wide variety of 'medicines,' including religious chanting, are often 'successful' in treating a bite. The tragic irony is that late arrival at a hospital could mean the death of the patient and so hospitals get a bad rap."

The most recent incident is far from from the first such one to occur.

In August, a man who had wrapped a common krait around its neck was bitten to death. The 50-year-old farmer, Devendra Mishra, had caught the highly venomous snake slithering around a neighbor's house, in Uttar Pradesh. He then began parading the creature around the village.