By Anders Nielsen, Ph.d.
The black mamba snake (Dendroaspis polylepis is the largest and deadliest snake in Africa. Many myths circulate with reference to the black mamba, but most are fictitious. One anecdote is that occasionally it decides to track people down throughout the woods. Nevertheless, it is an undeniable fact that the black mamba snake is both dangerous, agile, and highly venomous.
Notice that it is also the world’s fastest snake in terms of travelling velocity, and in combination with its dangerous bite, trespassers on its territory must be extra careful not to agitate it.
The black mamba snake is not black. The “black” in black mamba is from its mouth being black, while the body is actually a light grey. Adult snakes reach a length of approximately 7 to 13 feet.
It is not true that most people die from black mamba snake bites. Most people get antivenin in time and survive an envenomation. In areas with black mambas, people are acquainted with the procedures to adhere to in the case of an envenomation.
The black mamba is found throughout South Africa. While it occupies many habitats, the black mamba habitually returns to a particular place for shelter where it feels safe.
Diet and Hunting Tactics
Black mambas are diurnal predators and hunt both on the detritus and in the trees. It consumes all types of animals, from rodents to invertebrates (insects) to amphibians and other reptiles. It relies solely on its venom’s capacity to paralyze prey animals. The reason behind this behavior is its slim body-build that doesn’t allow it to rely on sheer muscle power like a typical constrictor.
Therefore, its tactic is to deliver a venomous bite, withdraw, and wait for the prey to succumb to the toxicity of its venom. Sometimes the prey will escape for a period, but the black mamba pursues its scent (smelling blood) and swallows the dying animal as soon it becomes too weak to offer any substantial physical resistance.
However, as its bite is potentially lethal, it is no joke to be bitten by a black mamba, and newspapers frequently publish histories about fatalities from black mamba snake bites.
This video provides background information about the black mamba snake.
The black mamba is Africa’s largest and one of the most venomous snakes in the world. It can grow up to 14 feet. It is also the world’s fastest snake. This video will show how it attacks its prey (baby squirrels).
Venom and Bites
Any non-dry bite, with injection of venom, has the potential to lead to a fatality. The venom acts by paralyzing the nervous system. The venom eventually causes the envenomated prey to die from suffocation if the black mambadoes not swallow it before the paralysis begins.
The females lay anywhere from 10-25 eggs that hatch late in the summer. Parental care is not present in mamba snakes, and the hatchlings are abandoned and unaided but ready to hunt and capture other animals immediately after hatching.
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