Chinese woman’s online snake purchase proves deadly

A Chinese woman who had hoped to make traditional snake wine died after being bitten by a venomous serpent which she ordered from an online shopping portal.

The 21-year-old woman in the northern province of Shaanxi died last Tuesday, eight days after being bitten by the many-banded krait, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

She had bought the snake on Zhuanzhuan, an e-commerce platform backed by Chinese internet heavyweight Tencent, from a seller in the southern province of Guangdong where the highly venomous reptile is endemic.

The snake had been delivered by a local courier company, which told Xinhua it did not know what was in the box.

The unidentified woman had planned to make a traditional medicinal wine, her mother told Xinhua.

So-called snake wine is typically made by infusing whole snakes in alcohol, with the resulting beverage said to have an invigorating effect.

Media reports said the reptile managed to escape afterwards, but local forestry officials later said it was found near the woman’s home.

Online platforms are banned from trading in wildlife and administrators quickly take down such postings.

But customers can turn to smaller platforms like Zhuanzhuan with less oversight.

E-commerce has boomed in China, led by major player like Alibaba’s Taobao platform which handle billions of dollars in orders for everything from everyday items to the bizarre.

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