Rinkhals

Hemachatus hemachatus

Geographical Locale

Image of Rinkhals [Hemachatus hemachatus] | Ehrlich Pest Control
  • Found predominantly in Southern and South-Western Cape, Orange Free State, Lesotho, Transkei, Kwazulu Natal, Swaziland and South-Eastern Transvaal. Small numbers have also been found on the Zimbabwe/Mozambique borders.

Appearance

  • Colors do vary but are generally brown to browny-black on the top with irregular spotting/banding in lighter browns or creams.
  • Distinctive dark belly with two lighter stripes/bands round the neck.
  • Adults reach an average of 2ft 11" - 4ft but have been known to reach almost 5ft in length.
  • The Rinkhals is a true ‘spitter’ and can spray its venom up 8' from it
  • Short, pointed head with large black eyes.

Venom

  • The venom is neurotoxic.
  • Rinkhals’ usually aim at the face causing terrible pain, and possible blindness, if the venom comes in to contact with the eye.

The Bite

  • Swelling around the bite wound.
  • Bruising in many cases.

Lifecycle

  • Unlike other Cobras the Ringhals is Viviparous – gives birth to live young.
  • Average size of a new born is 6-7" in length.
  • Ringhals’ give birth to an average of 20 and 30 young at a time.
  • Young shed their skin within an hour of birth.
  • New born Ringhals’ have the same colorings and distinct bands round their neck as adults; they are also, from birth, able to rear up and spit venom.

Habits

  • Prefers to live in grasslands but easily adapts to conditions found at sea level and high altitudes.
  • Nocturnal – but known to bask in the sun during the day.
  • Diet is primarily toads but if these are short as a source of food they will also prey on small mammals and reptiles and other amphibians.
  • If cornered the Ringhals has the amazing ability to ‘play dead’; rolling on to its back, going completely limp, with it’s mouth open and tongue lolling out!

 

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