Rinkhals - (Hemachatus haemachatus) {Spitting cobra} by Maree  Clarkson

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Rinkhals - (Hemachatus haemachatus) {Spitting cobra} by 

Photograph taken in my garden and done in Watercolour in my Moleskine 200gsm watercolour folio sketch-book (Size A4)

Being able to recognize the dangerous snakes, spiders, insects, and plants that live in your area of the country are beneficial to you as well as the ecology.

When one lives in a rural area, one is blessed with many small creatures visiting your garden and in my garden, all and sundry are welcome. Rabbits, hares, tortoises, hedgehogs, guinea fowl, monitors, lizards, Genets (maybe not so welcome!) and snakes, in particular the Mole Snake and the Brown House Snake (as well as the little egg eaters and a couple of others), who are all totally harmless and non-venomous.

A not-so-welcome visitor to my garden is this Rinkhals (Spitting Cobra), who’s venom is neurotoxic and partially cytotoxic that affects breathing and can be fatal if left untreated. It is one of a group of cobras that has developed the ability to spit venom as a defence mechanism, which they do with great enthusiasm! It generally aims its venom at the face and if the venom enters the eyes, it causes great pain. Their average length is 90 – 110cm. Actual bites from Hemachatus are, however, rare, and deaths in modern times are almost completely unheard of.

Nothing is ever killed or harmed in my garden, I don’t even use insecticides (aphids on the roses are normally sprayed with a mean mixture of dish washing liquid and tobacco, which seems to do the job, although I do make sure there are no lady bugs in the vicinity first). So, upon encountering this visitor, I normally don my glasses, race for a bucket and my snake hook and the unwelcome offender is duly captured, put in the bucket and then taken to an isolated dam some kilometers from us where he’ll be safe against the threat of humans.

It always breaks my heart that people are so quick to kill any “threat” around their living space – these, dangerous yes, but equally beneficial creatures, have earned an unnecessary reputation of “the demon from hell”, when nothing could be further from the truth. Rinkhals rarely bite, preferring to bluff their way out of a confrontation, and they’d much rather stay out of our way, if at all possible, but with development encroaching everywhere, this is getting more and more difficult for them. And they do render an invaluable service of keeping our environment rat and pest free, and without them, disease would spread like wild fire. Before just indiscriminately killing something next time, take a moment and think of a possible alternative route, like calling a snake handler to remove the “offender” to a safer habitat.

Rinkhals rearing up

  1. 17th August 2010 – FEATURED in Art Up Close
  2. 25th August 2014 – FEATURED in Love these Creatures
  3. 27th August 2014 – FEATURED in Image Writing

I am a watercolorist living on my little piece of African soil in Tarlton, Gauteng, South Africa. The inspiration for my art is the wonderfully rich variety of Fauna and Flora to be found throughout this beautiful country.
“There is a fine line between dreams and reality; it’s up to you to draw it.”

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  • Elizabeth Kendall
    Elizabeth Kendallover 4 years ago

    Very well done!! I better run!

  • I can see you in your sneakers sprinting in the opposite direction! thanks a lot Liz.

    – Maree Clarkson

  • Valerie Anne Kelly
    Valerie Anne K...over 4 years ago

    w0w! superb painting & info sweetheART absolutel Ace – fave4sure ; } happy hippy hugglez

  • Aaaah, thanks for your lovely comment Val! and thank you for the fav!

    – Maree Clarkson

  • Jim Phillips
    Jim Phillipsover 4 years ago

    YIKES…. wonderful illustration and narrative as well, Maree.

  • Thanks a lot Jim, isn’t he a beauty?!

    – Maree Clarkson

  • craftloft
    craftloftover 4 years ago
  • Thanks for accepting Mariaan.

    – Maree Clarkson

  • Ken Powers
    Ken Powersover 4 years ago

    I know I shouldn’t look at its eyes but I can’t help it!!! Great work!

  • Thanks Ken! I know, and he stares one right in the eye, very intently, watching your every move (probably scared out of his wits and planning a quick escape).

    – Maree Clarkson

  • Blended
    Blendedover 4 years ago

    In Art Up Close

  • How awesome! Thank you very much Blended, I’m absolutely thrilled about this!

    – Maree Clarkson

  • Elizabeth Kendall
    Elizabeth Kendallover 4 years ago

    Lovely! Congratulations Maree!!!

  • Many thanks Liz!

    – Maree Clarkson

  • Madalena Lobao-Tello
    Madalena Lobao...5 months ago


  • Thanks for that fav Madalena, glad you like it!

    – Maree Clarkson

  • Keala
    Keala5 months ago

    Marvelous work Maree!

  • Many thanks Leigh, appreciate the fav!

    – Maree Clarkson

  • Graeme M
    Graeme M5 months ago

    Beautiful !

  • Thanks a lot Graeme!

    – Maree Clarkson

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