CAPE COBRA … ACTUALLY IT’S A RINKHALS!

“Stop!” I called upon sighting a snake crossing the dirt road ahead of us. Out I hopped, camera in hand to see what it was. The shape of this sinuous creature indicated that it was definitely a cobra. The first Cape Cobra I ever saw was a rich yellow colour, which is why I did not recognise this one at first. To business: photograph it to identify later if necessary and then admire it a little before resuming our journey. Cape Cobras can actually vary in colour from the yellow I have fixed in my mind to copper, various shades of brown, and even black. They can also be speckled with shades of brown and orange. Actually … as Luke has so kindly pointed out below, this is not a Cape Cobra but a Rinkhals (Hemachatus haemachatus). He points out the scales on this snake are keeled (have a ridge down each scale) whereas cobras have smooth scales.

I made sure to stand well behind the snake as I watched it cross the road. The tighter curves seemed to indicate that it was not particularly pleased with my presence. It also lifted its head slightly and began to spread its neck into a broader ‘hood’, which are typical warning signs.

You will forgive me for not waiting around too long to get everything in focus, but this is was its broad hood looked like.

The snake expressed its displeasure by lifting its head off the ground. The warning signs were clear and I heeded them.

I let it continue on its way across the road, feeling delighted to have come across it so unexpectedly.