The Rinkhals Snake: South Africa’s Venomous and Unusual Resident - Snake

The Rinkhals Snake: South Africa’s Venomous and Unusual Resident


The Rinkhals snake is a venomous and unusual resident of South Africa. This snake has a unique characteristic that sets it apart from other venomous snakes – it is able to spew venom up to two meters in distance. The rinkhals (Hemachatus haemachatus) is a species of elapid snake that is endemic to southeastern Africa.

This serpent is also called the “Ring-necked spitting cobra”, and it belongs to the same family as the highly venomous black mamba. However, despite its toxicity, the Rinkhals is not considered a dangerous snake to humans because it is shy and prefers to avoid confrontation.

The Rinkhals snake is medium-sized and can measure up to 1.5 meters in length. It has a thick, sturdy body with a head that looks similar to a cobra’s, complete with the iconic “hood” that it can flare up when threatened. The scales on the snake’s body are rough, with an overall dark brown or grey coloration and distinct black stripes running down its body.

This snake is known for its unique defense mechanism, spitting venom. Although not as deadly as some of the more infamous snakes, the rinkhals snake’s venom is still potent enough to cause localized pain and swelling. Additionally, if the venom enters a person’s eyes, it can cause permanent blindness.

The Rinkhals snake is not just venomous, but also highly unusual in its behavior. When threatened, it will pretend to be dead by rolling onto its back with its mouth open and tongue out. It also has a habit of playing dead even when not threatened, perhaps to avoid detection by predators.

This snake is not often seen by humans because it dwells in brushy areas, often near streams or ponds. The rinkhals snake is a solitary creature that spends much of its time basking in the sun or hunting for prey, which can include frogs, lizards, and rodents.

Despite its unique characteristics and important role in South Africa’s ecosystem, the Rinkhals snake is often regarded as a pest by farmers, as it can pose a threat to livestock. This has led to the killing of many Rinkhals snakes, with some populations dwindling due to habitat loss as well.

Although it is seldom seen, The Rinkhals snake is one of the most intriguing species of venomous snakes found in southern Africa. Known for its unique defense mechanism, it is a vital part of the country’s biodiversity. It is essential that efforts are made to preserve its habitat and protect this remarkable species for generations to come.

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