U.S. service members drank cobra blood, ate scorpions, tarantulas and geckos, and cooked rats during the annual Cobra Gold military training exercise currently taking place in Thailand. If you dare, check out the photos above and watch a quick video of the event below.
What is Cobra Gold?
Cobra Gold is the biggest multinational military exercise in Southeast Asia. Newsweek says 11,075 personnel from 29 countries are represented in the exercise, which is in its 37th year. The seven main countries participating are the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore. The U.S. alone sent 6,800 service members, which is nearly double from the previous year.
One of the hallmarks of Cobra Gold is jungle survival training. In this portion of the program, participants learn vital skills like how to trap, cook and eat wildlife. According to AFP, that means grilling and eating snakes, as well as removing venom from scorpions and tarantulas before chowing down.
“The key to survival is knowing what to eat,” Thai Sergeant Major Chaiwat Ladsin, who led the training at a Thai navy base in Chonburi province.
Troops also learned how to find sources of water, which included drinking cobra blood.
“Knowing where to find water is the most important skill. If there’s no water in the rivers, trees or vines, we have to rely on water from ourselves which is our urine. If we don’t have that, then we take it from animals. We can take it from any kind of animals, which is just for surviving, not to be full,” Ladsin said.
“Definitely my first time drinking snake blood… It’s not something we do too often in America,” Marine Sgt. Christopher Fiffie said.
Marines also learned how to start a fire using their jungle surroundings.
“We learned how to make fire out of bamboo and kindling, we learned how to make traps using banana rope and also learned how to cook a rat,” Army Pfc. Alex Davis said in a III MEF statement. “That was pretty interesting. That’s not something you learn back in the States.”
The annual military exercise runs from Feb. 13 until Feb. 23. Its goal, according to the USMC, is to “advance regional security and ensure effective responses to regional crises by bringing together a robust multinational force to address shared goals and security commitments in the Indo-Pacific region.”