The Rinkhals is a venomous snake found in parts of southern Africa. The coloration of these snakes varies throughout their distribution area. However, they have a characteristic dark belly with one or two light-colored crossbands on the throat. Some individuals may have a mostly black body, while others are striped or bright yellow/orange with dark brown stripes. Rinkhals scales are ridged and keel-like.
Rinkhals are found in the Western and Eastern Cape provinces of South Africa, northeast through the Free State, Lesotho, Transkei, Kwazulu Natal, South Africa, Western Swaziland, Mpumalanga and parts of Gauteng, South Africa. An isolated population is centered on Inyanga on the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border. These snakes generally prefer grassland habitats because it allows them to blend in with thei surroundings. Rinkhals also may live in shrubland, marshy fields and in swamps around southern Africa.
Rinkhals are solitary snakes. They hunt by night and during the day usually, bask on large rocks. These are very shy snakes unless they feel danger or are threatened. If distressed, rinkhals spread their hood, showing their distinctive, striped neck. Like true cobras, rinkhals can spit their venom. Their spitting mechanism is primitive due to which the snake has to rear up and fling its body forward to spray its venom. They can spit their venom in distance up to 2.5 m. If rinkhals can't escape danger, they may also fake death by rolling onto their back with their mouth open and their tongue hanging out.
Rinkhals are unique amongst African cobras in being ovoviviparous which means they give birth to live young. These snakes mate from June until August. Females give birth to 20-35 young after the gestation period that lasts around 5-6 months. The young are born precocial (fully developed) and measure approximately 16-17 cm in length. They are completely independent at birth and don't receive parental care.
Rinkhals suffer from habitat loss due which is caused by residential and commercial development.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Rinkhals total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.