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Hemachatus haemachatus BONNATERRE, 1790

IUCN Red List - Hemachatus haemachatus - Least Concern, LC

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Higher TaxaElapidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Rinkhals, Ring-necked Spitting Cobra, Ringhals
G: Ringhalskobra 
SynonymVipere haemachate LACÉPÈDE 1789: 115 (nom. reject.)
Coluber haemachates BONNATERRE 1790: 31
Vipera haemachates — LATREILLE 1801
Sepedon haemachates — MERREM 1820
Naia capensis SMITH 1826: 252
Naja haemachates — SCHLEGEL 1837
Sepedon haemachates — DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1854: 1259
Aspidelaps haemachates — JAN 1859
Sipedon haemachates — LOCKINGTON 1886: 300
Sepedon haemachates — GADOW 1909: 633
Sepedon haemachates — STERNFELD 1910: 34
Sepedon haemachates — DITMARS 1911
Hemachatus haemachatus — STEJNEGER 1936
Hemachatus haemachatus — HARDING & WELCH 1980
Hemachatus haemachatus — BRANCH 1981: 20
Hemachatus haemachatus — WELCH 1994: 63
Hemachatus haemachatus — DOBIEY & VOGEL 2007
Hemachatus haemachates — WALLACH et al. 2014: 324 
DistributionRepublic of South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland

Type locality: Japon et Perse  
TypesTypes: lost (fide Golay et al. 1993) 
DiagnosisDiagnosis (genus): A monotypic genus, containing the single species H. haemachatus. A southern African endemic, ranging as far north as Zimbabwe. Readily distinguished from the closely-related Naja, by its keeled scales, the absence of solid teeth on the maxilla, and in producing live young. It is famed for its ability to spit venom, a characteristic that it shares with four other African species of Naja. (Branch 1981: 20)

Description (species): Branch 1981: 20 
CommentVenomous! Hemachatus is a spitting cobra.

Synonymy partly after Golay et al. (1993). SAVAGE (2003) suggested to reject Lacepède’s (1788) “Histoire Naturelle des Quadrupèdes Ovipares” as a non-binominal work (Case 3226; Bull. Zool. Nom. 60 (2)). In 1987 the ICZN ruled accordingly in opinions 1463 and 2104. Thus the author of this species has been changed to BONNATERRE.

Type species: Coluber haemachates BONNATERRE 1790 is the type species of the genus Hemachatus FLEMING 1822.

Relationships: Hemachatus is the sister genus to Naja (Lee et al. 2016). 
  • Alexander, G.J. & R. Brooks 1999. Circannual Rhythms of Appetite and Ecdysis in the Elapid Snake, Hemachatus haemachatus. Appear to be Endogenous Copeia 1999 (1): 146-152. - get paper here
  • Alexander, G.J., D. Mitchell & S.A. Hanrahan 1999. Wide Thermal Tolerance in the African Elapid, Hemachatus haemachatus Journal of Herpetology 33 (1): 164-167. - get paper here
  • Alexander, Graham J.; Shirley A. Hanrahan & Duncan Mitchell 2012. Assimilation efficiency and gut passage time in an African elapid snake, Hemachatus haemachatus. African Journal of Herpetology 61 (1): 3-13 - get paper here
  • Bates, M.F.; Branch, W.R., Bauer, A.M.; Burger, M., Marais, J.; Alexander, G.J. & de Villliers, M.S. (eds.) 2014. Atlas and Red List of the Reptiles of South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Suricata 1. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria, 512 pp.
  • Bates, Michael F. & Cora S. Stobie. 2021. Current-day distribution of the rinkhals (Hemachatus haemachatus) in central South Africa and Lesotho: An evaluation based mainly on photographic and videographic records from social media. African Journal of Herpetology 0(0): 1–7. - get paper here
  • Bonnaterre, P.J. 1789. Tableau encyclopédique et méthodique des trois règnes de la nature, . . . Erpétologie. Panckoucke, Paris, xxviii+71 pp. (+ plates + index) - get paper here
  • Bonnaterre, P.J. 1790. Ophiologie, in Tableau encyclopédique et méthodique des trois règnes de la nature. Panconoke, Paris, XLIV + 76 pp + 43 plates - get paper here
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1887. Synopsis of the snakes of South Africa. The Zoologist, London, (3) 11: 171-182
  • Boycott, R.C. 1992. An Annotated Checklist of the Amphibians and Reptiles of Swaziland. The Conservation Trust of Swaziland - get paper here
  • Branch, W. R. 1981. The venomous snakes of southern Africa 2. Elapidae and Hydrophidae. Bull. Maryland Herp. Soc. 17 (1): 1-47 - get paper here
  • Branch, William R. 1993. A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishers, 144 S.
  • Broadley, D. & Blaylock 2013. The Snakes of Zimbabwe and Botswana. Chimaira, Frankfurt, 387 pp. [book review in Sauria 35 (2): 59 and Copeia 2014: 388] - get paper here
  • Broadley, D.G. 1962. On some reptile collections from the North-Western and North-Eastern Districts of Southern Rhodesia 1958-1961, with descriptions of four new lizards. Occ. Pap. Nat. Mus. South. Rhodesia 26 (B): 787-843
  • Conradie, Werner; Brain Reeves, Sandile Mdoko, Lwandiso Pamla, Oyama Gxabhu 2020. Herpetological survey of the Ongeluksnek (Malekgalonyane) Nature Reserve on the foothills of the Drakensberg, Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Herpetology Notes 13: 717-730 - get paper here
  • Ditmars, Raymond L. 1911. Reptiles of all lands. National Geographic 22(7): 601-633
  • Dobiey, M. & Vogel, G. 2007. Venomous Snakes of Africa - Giftschlangen Afrikas. Edition Chimaira, Terralog 15, 150 pp. - get paper here
  • Duméril, A. M. C., Bibron, G. & DUMÉRIL, A. H. A., 1854. Erpétologie générale ou histoire naturelle complète des reptiles. Tome septième. Deuxième partie, comprenant l'histoire des serpents venimeux. Paris, Librairie Encyclopédique de Roret: i-xii + 781-1536 - get paper here
  • Fleming, John 1822. The Philosophy of Zoology; or a General View of the Structure, Functions, and Classification of Animals. Archibald Constable, Edinburgh, and Hurst, Robinson, London. Two volumes, as follows: vol. I: Iii, 432 pages, 5 plates; vol. II: (1), 618 pages. - get paper here
  • Gadow, H. 1909. Amphibia and Reptilia. MacMillan, London, 668 pp. - get paper here
  • Golay,P, H.M. SMITH, D.G. BROADLEY, J. R. DIXON, C., MCCARTHY, J. C. RAGE, B. SCHÀTTI & M.TORIBA 1993. Endoglyphs and other major venomous snakes of the world. A checklist. [type catalogue] Aire-Genève, Azemiops S. A. Herpetological Data Center: i-xv + 1-478.
  • Haagner, G. V. 1991. Life History Note: Hemachatus haemachatus: Reproduction. J. Herp. Assoc. Africa (39): 26-26 - get paper here
  • Hallermann, J. 2006. Die von LACEPÈDE (1756 - 1825) in die Herpetologie eingeführten Taxa und ihr Schicksal. Sekretär 6 (2): 26-29 - get paper here
  • Hörold, Ralf 2019. Die echten Kobras und ihre Gifte Ophidia 13 (1): 18-26
  • ICZN 2005. OPINION 2104 (Case 3226). Lacepède, B.G.É. de la V., 1788, Histoire Naturelle des Quadrupèdes Ovipares: rejected as a non-binominal work. Bull. Zool. Nomenclature 62 (1): 55 - get paper here
  • Lacepède, B. G. E. 1789. Histoire Naturelle des Quadrupèdes Ovipares et de Serpens. Vol.2. lmprimerie du Roi, Hôtel de Thou, Paris, 671 pp. - get paper here
  • Laita, Mark 2013. Serpentine. Abrams and PQ Blackwell, Auckland, New Zealand, 200 unnumbered pages
  • Lee, Michael S. Y.; Kate L. Sanders, Benedict King, Alessandro Palci 2016. Diversification rates and phenotypic evolution in venomous snakes (Elapidae). R. Soc. open sci., DOI: 10.1098/rsos.150277 - get paper here
  • Lockington 1886. The form of the pupil in snakes. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 1886: 300 - get paper here
  • Merrem, B. 1820. Versuch eines Systems der Amphibien I (Tentamen Systematis Amphibiorum). J. C. Kriegeri, Marburg, 191 pp. - get paper here
  • O’Shea, M. 2018. The Book of Snakes. Ivy Press / Quarto Publishing, London, - get paper here
  • Savage, J.M. 2003. Lacepéde, B.G.É. de la V., 1788, Histoire Naturelle des Quadrupédes Ovipares: proposed rejection as a non-binomial work. Bull. Zool. Nomenclature 60 (2): 138 - get paper here
  • Schmidt, Dieter 2012. Giftbisse von giftigen und „harmlosen“ Schlangen. Teil 1. Terraria-Elaphe 2012 (2): 78-82 - get paper here
  • SMITH, G. 2011. The status of the Rinkhals Hemachatus haemachatus in the city of Cape Town metropolitan area, Western Cape, South Africa. African Herp News (53): 13-16 - get paper here
  • Smith,A. 1826. On the snakes of Southern Africa. Edinburgh New Philos. J. 1: 248-254
  • Spawls, S., Branch, B. 1995. The Dangerous Snakes of Africa. Blandford, London, 192 pp.
  • Sternfeld, R. 1910. Die Fauna der deutschen Kolonien: Die Schlangen Deutsch-Südwestafrikas. Berlin, R. Friedländer & Sohn, 45 pp.
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. [type catalogue] Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
  • Winchell, S. 2011. Kobras. Reptilia (Münster) 16 (89): 16-22 - get paper here
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