Rinkhals - Hemachatus haemachatus

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Average Length: 1 m Names in other languages
Afrikaans: Rinkhals
Look for:
  • Dark brown in highveld with 2-3 white bars across throat
  • Banded in Natal and Zimbabwe
  • Speads hood when disturbed
  • Spits venom, always from reared position
  • Shams death


Distribution


Venom Type: Neurotoxic. Affects breathing and causes respiratory failure in untreated cases. Bites rare and fatalities not recorded.


First Aid

Immobilise and reassure victim, who must lie down and be kept as quiet as possible. Apply pressure bandage immediately, see First-aid procedures; immobilise limb with a splint to reduce spread of venom. Loosen but do not remove bandage if there is severe swelling. Take victim to hospital as soon as possible.

Immediate action should be taken to wash out any venom from eyes or on body; in latter case this is to prevent venom entering wounds or scratches.

Habits

A shy snake but will rear up, expand a hood and eject a spray of venom towards its attackers if unable to escape. Disappears quickly when disturbed but when cornered it will lift as much as half its body off the ground with hood spread with the two or three white bars on throat clearly visible.  When frightened it will play dead, ready to strike when touched. It always spits its venom from a reared position.

Food

Toads, lizards, rodents, snakes, birds and eggs.

Reproduction

Viviparous. 20-30 young born in late summer.

Enemies

Predatory birds and other snakes.

Habitat

Grassland, moist savanna, lowland forest and fynbos.

 

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