Black Mamba Snake

Latin name: Dendroaspis Polylepis (Genus: Dendroaspis)

The black mamba snake is the second longest, venomous snake in the world, being surpassed only by the king cobra. They Adult black mambas can easily reach lengths between 2 and 3 meters, although some have been recorded to be as long as 4.5 meters.

Although they are very long, black mambas weigh surprisingly little. Most adults weigh between 1.03 and 2.4 kilograms. This is due to the fact that they are very thin, and have very thin tails. Additionally, their fangs are up to 6.5 mm long.

Black Mamba Snake
Black Mamba

The black mamba snake is diurnal, which means it is awake during the day. It lives both on the ground and in trees (arboreal), and is spread widely throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Black mambas have one burrow that they return to, unless it is disturbed in some way. They can take cover in many other animal burrows, however.

Fantastic Facts About Black Mambas

Their heads are famously shaped like coffins with a black interior that makes the open mouth look like a black silk lined coffin. With 40% of the front of mamba’s body and head vertical when it charges towards an enemy, the sight is a frightening display to its chosen target. It is the longest and fastest snake in Africa.

During the day, mambas will spend many hours basking in the sunlight, to stay warm and get vital nutrients. When they move, they are very fast, and can move up to 20 km/h. Their dark gray, green, or brown scales blend in well with their environment. Their scales are never black; instead, they get the name black mamba from the inside of their mouth, which is very dark, sometimes almost black.

Although they have a reputation for being very aggressive, they will only attack humans when they are provoked or feel threatened. When threatened, they will enter a warning state, where they raise their head, flick their tongue, and hiss. Any sudden movements at this time could cause them to strike. Instead of biting once, they often bite multiple times very quickly, leading to multiple doses of venom.

Black mamba venom is very dangerous, and contains a neurotoxin that works quickly and can be deadly. Additionally, they can lunge up to 40% of their body off the ground, so can bite humans on the upper body. If bitten, someone needs medical care immediately as the toxin affects heart and lung function causing asphyxiation. The ability to raise about half of its body off the ground is also beneficial for climbing back into tree branches.

Diet and Breeding

They feed mostly on small animals, such as rodents (squirrels), birds, bats, amphibians such as frogs and bush babies. Their prey isn’t often that large, since they have fairly small heads. They will often use their fearsome reputation, by posturing in front of cattle (cattle will run to avoid the mamba) to clear a path. when moving across ground they’ll often twist in an ‘S’ shape.

Black Mamba Snake
Black Mamba Snake

Male black mamba snakes will wrestle each other for the ability to mate with a female. After mating, a female can lay between 6 and 17 eggs. When hatched, young snakes are lighter in color and fairly small, but they grow quickly. They can reach 2 meters just a year after hatching.

In the wild, black mambas can live for up to 11 years, though it is possible that they live longer, especially in captivity. They have very few natural predators. Large birds may prey on them. Younger black mambas can also be hunted by mongooses and honey badgers, both of which have a slight resistance to black mamba venom.

Conservation Status: Least concern. They are very widespread, and there has been no evidence of a decrease in the population and are not a concern on the (IUCN)’s Red List of Threatened Species.

Black Mamba – National Geographic

Q & A

Do black mambas eat humans?

Although the black mamba has a fearsome reputation it only attacks humans if it feels threatened or cornered.

Do black mambas sleep?

Black mambas like to sleep in tree hollows, deserted anteater burrows and other deserted nests or burrows.

Are black mambas nocturnal?

Black mambas are diurnal which means they are awake during the day, save for the hottest time when they will seek shade.

Is the black mamba a tree loving species?

Black mambas primarily like to stay on the ground.

How many drops of black mamba venom does it take to kill a human?

Two drops of black mamba venom can kill a human.

Is the black mamba cold blooded?

The black mamba is cold blooded relying on sun bathing to keep warm.

Do black mambas wrestle their prey?

Black mambas will usually bite and retreat waiting for the poison to take affect, though with smaller prey like birds they’ll often grip it preventing the bird flying away.

How many eggs do black mambas lay?

Black mambas lay between 10 and 25 eggs.

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