Shejiu is a traditional type of liquor that is made by pickling a venomous snake in a bottle of alcohol such as baijiu. The venom of the snake is neutralized by the liquor and, thanks to the essences of the serpent, is said to have energizing and healing properties.
It is widely drunk in various parts of Asia to treat problems or maintain health, but for one unlucky woman in one of China’s most northeastern cities, brewing the drink ended in a trip to the hospital when the snake awoke after three months and attacked.
The Harbin City woman was suffering from joint pain during changes of weather and concocted the shejiu on the advice of a friend. After pickling a viper in some baijiu, she would pour a small shot of snake wine out of a spigot in the bottom of the bottle whenever her pain flared up.
When the bottle ran dry the woman opened the top to pour in more alcohol. As she did so the snake suddenly started breathing and wriggling, and sprung out of the bottle. The viper bit the woman on her finger as she tried to swat it away.
Hearing the commotion, the rest of the woman’s family rushed to help and took her to the hospital. “Before the shejiu could have any effect on me I was sent to the hospital for a snake bite,” the woman said, looking down at her bandaged hand.
Surprisingly, incidents such as these are not all that rare. By lowering their metabolism and heart-rate, snakes are able to enter a state of hibernation. This particular snake, it would seem, was able to remain alive for so long since the container in which it was being pickled was not completely airtight.
Authorities are warning residents of this rural area in Harbin to be on the lookout for an extremely agitated viper suffering from a severe hangover.