Monthly Archives: November 2017

Rinkhals

The rinkhals, also called the ringhals or ring-necked spitting cobra, is a species of venomous snake found in parts of Southern Africa including Sibuya Game Reserve.

A small to medium sized snake usually 90 cm to 120 cm in length, but can reach 1,5m. The snake is closely related to the true cobras, but differs from the true cobras in having keeled dorsal scales. In all other respects it acts like a cobra, being able to rear up and spread a hood.

The venom of the rinkhals is neurotoxic and partially cytotoxic, and is less viscous than that of other African elapids.  When confronting a human, it generally aims its venom at the face. If the venom enters the eyes, it causes great pain.

If distressed, the rinkhals spreads its hood, showing its distinctive, striped neck. It is a spitting snake, and can spray its venom up to 2.5 m. Its spitting mechanism is primitive and it has to rear up and fling its body forward to spray its venom. It is also known to fake death by rolling onto its back with its mouth agape.

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Caracal

The caracal is a medium-sized wild cat native to Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia and India. The caracal is characterised by a robust build, long legs, a short face, long tufted ears and long canine teeth.  The caracal inhabits forests, savannas, marshy lowlands, semi-deserts and scrub forests and can be found on the Sibuya Game Reserve.

Typically nocturnal, the caracal is highly secretive and difficult to observe. It is territorial, and lives mainly alone or in pairs. The caracal is a carnivore that typically preys upon small mammals, birds and rodents.

It can leap higher than 3 m and catch birds in mid-air. It stalks its prey until it is within 5 m of it, after which it runs it down, the prey being killed by a bite to the throat or to the back of the neck.

Breeding takes place throughout the year with both sexes becoming sexually mature by the time they are a year old. Gestation lasts between two and three months, resulting in a litter of one to six kittens. Juveniles leave their mothers at nine to ten months, though a few females stay back with their mothers. The average lifespan of the caracal in captivity is nearly 16 years.