Image: Snake King
S. Thinakaran  /  Associated Press
Malaysian snake charmer Ali Khan Samsuddin lived in a container with 6,000 scorpions for several weeks in July 1997. He died Friday, three days after being bitten by a cobra, his son and protégé said.
updated 12/1/2006 10:36:29 PM ET 2006-12-02T03:36:29

A Malaysian known as the "Snake King" for his commanding performances with scorpions and snakes over the last 25 years has died after being bitten by a King Cobra during a show, news reports said Saturday.

Ali Khan Samsuddin, 48, died early Friday, three days after he was bitten on the left hand by a cobra while performing in Kuala Lumpur, the reports said, quoting his son, Amjad Khan.

The Star daily quoted Khan, 21, as saying that he would continue his father's work. "This is a trade that has been passed down for five generations. It is our way of life and we can't imagine doing anything else," he said.

Khan said his father called him on Tuesday to tell him that he had been bitten, but the family was not too worried because it had happened "many times before," including three times by cobras, the paper said.

But Samsuddin's condition worsened on Thursday night and he was rushed to hospital. Khan said his father suffered from diabetes and perhaps his body couldn't handle the poison as well as it used to.

Samsuddin figured in the 1997 Guinness Book of World Records by living in a glass enclosure with more than 5,000 scorpions for 21 days. He also lived with 400 snakes for 40 days.

Samsuddin, who was buried Friday in his home town of Taiping, is survived by a wife and five children, the New Straits Times said.

The family could not be immediately reached for comment.

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