Rinkhals Fact Sheet
RINKHALS / PHEMPHETFWANE
DISTRIBUTION AND DANGER
The Rinkhals is only found in the cooler, highveld areas of Eswatini. It has a toxic Cytotoxic and Neurotoxic venom, but very few bites have been recorded in Eswatini.
They actively hunt during the day but will also take advantage of the warmer summer evenings to hunt for frogs and other prey items. As this snakes diet is predominantly frogs and toads, it is often found in moist grassland habitats.
It is a medium-sized snake, usually averaging 0.9m to 1.2 meters in length. The colour is a dull dark charcoal grey to black, and some specimens have irregular creamy white crossbars on the back. The throat is shiny black, with 1 to 3 white bands. The snake has keeled scales which gives it a rough appearance.
If distressed, the Rinkhals spreads its hood, showing its distinctive shiny black and white striped neck. It is a spitting cobra and can spray its venom up to 2.5 meters, but only from a reared position. It is also known to fake death by rolling onto its back with its mouth wide open and the tongue hanging out.
The venom is both Cytotoxic and Neurotoxic.
The following symptoms may be apparent:
- Minimal to mild swelling in most cases.
- Pain can be minimal to acute.
- Victims may feel nauseous and may vomit.
- Severe thirst and raised body temperature.
- The victims may have difficulty focusing their eyes and may become drowsy.
- The arms and legs may become weak.
- Speech may be slurred, and there may be paralysis of the tongue and vocal cords.
- The chest may feel tight, and the victim may have difficulty breathing.
SYMPTOMS AFTER BEING SPAT IN THE EYES
- Extreme pain in the eyes.
- Excessive watering of eyes.
FIRST-AID AFTER A BITE
The symptoms are usually not very severe, but there have been isolated cases where the victim has collapsed within a few minutes.
- Remember to remain calm.
- Minimize all movement of the patient and limb.
- Gently wash the bite site with water, nothing else.
- Remove rings, jewellery and other restrictive clothing or shoes.
- Make a note of the time the bite occurred.
- Keep the affected limb below the height of the heart.
- Get to a medical facility without delay.
- Under any circumstances, use a tourniquet (tie a band, belt or rope) or a pressure bandage to the affected limb.
- Cut the bite site.
- Drink or apply any herbal remedy to the bite site.
AFTER BEING SPAT IN THE EYES
- DO NOT RUB the eyes.Flush the eye/s with running water for at least 20 minutes. Other bland liquids can be used, but water is best.
- Immediate flushing will prevent permanent damage to the eye.
- Go to a medical centre for an examination where you will receive local anaesthetic and antibiotic eye drops.
- Pain will gradually decrease over time and be gone in a few days.