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