WildFrontier Safaris assisting with reptile conservation. I was called out to a nearby storage facility to collect a snake – a suspected Rinkhals.
The snake had been discovered by the gardener, whilst clearing a flower bed. The snake surprised the gardener, who gave it a few whacks with the rake that he had at hand.
I did not hold out much hope for the survival of the snake, as it looked like the spine had sustained some damage by the rake, and there was no movement of the snake. The Rinkhals is known however, to feign death in stressful situations, which I was hoping was the case here, and not that the snake was mortally wounded.
I extricated the victim from the rake, picked him up with snake tongs and proceeded to place him in a plastic tube specifically made for transporting such rescued reptiles. As I did so, he bit the edge of the tube, and I noticed some blood in his mouth – also not a great sign, but at least he showed he was still alive.
I took him home and placed him in a plastic tub, in a quiet place, to monitor his condition.
He lay upside down in the plastic tub for about an hour, still feigning death. When he realised nobody was trying to kill him anymore, he righted himself and curled up in a corner. With the tub being clear, I could inspect him for damage, and though some scales were rouged up and displaced, I could see no significant external wounds – internal injuries are another matter.
I will keep him another few days to make sure he recovers sufficiently, before releasing him back into the bush, away from human habitation.
Rinkhals (Hemachatus haemachatus)
The Rinkhals is not a true cobra, and is classified in it’s own genus, separate from our cobras. The Rinkhals gives birth to live young, as opposed to the cobras, which lay eggs, and is also an accomplished spitter (can spit it’s venom).
The Rinkhals venom is potentially life threatening, but is not as potent as the cobra’s, and is usually survivable if medical attention is received.
Size: Average length for an adult is about 1m, but they have been known to reach 1.5m in length.
Diet: Prefer frogs and toads, but will take rodents and other small mammals, and other reptiles, including snakes.
Distribution: Throughout most of South Africa, excluding Karoo and Northern Cape.