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Black Mamba Snakes

Rajib Singha

It's one fast, nervous, highly aggressive, and lethally venomous serpent, and is also reputed as one of the world's deadliest snakes. This cold blooded crawler is none other than the black mamba.
The black mamba snake, scientifically known as Dendroaspis Polylepis, has been associated with numerous human deaths and its features are a subject of immense exaggeration in the myths of Africa. In the southern and eastern Africa, the black mamba inhabit the savannas, rocky hills, holes, burrows, under fallen rocks, or timber.
This snake can grow up to an average length of 8 feet (2.5 m) and may even reach up to a length of 14 feet (4.5 meters). This is the reason why this species is known to be the longest of all venomous snakes in the African continent.
Apart from enlisted among the most deadliest snake in the world, the black mamba also holds a position among the fastest ones, by reaching an amazing speed of 12.5 miles per hour (20 kilometers per hour).

Some Basic Facts About the Black Mamba

If you could get a close observation of the black mamba snake, you can figure why is it called so. The snake actually bears a skin which tends to be olive, brownish, gray, or sometimes khaki in color. It gets its name from the inside of its mouth which is blue-black in color.
The snake normally displays the inside of its mouth when threatened or when it is in an attacking mode. The base of the snake bears a cream color, which is sometimes blended with green or yellow. Eyes have shades of dark brown to black, complimented by silvery-white to yellow edges on the pupils.
The bite of this African snake contains potent neurotoxic and cardiotoxic venom with a 100% mortality rate, unless the victim receives immediate or prompt treatment with black mamba antivenin or put on a respirator or ventilator.
Unfortunately, in rural parts of Africa, deaths are frequent given the unavailability of the antivenin. On an average, this poisonous crawler is known to deliver 100-120 mg of venom, while there are some which can even deliver up to 400 mg. A mere amount of 10-15 mg is potent enough to kill 10-15 people.
Although nastily poisonous, the black mamba is shy by nature and often seeks for an escape when confronted. However, in situations where it has been cornered or nowhere to go, it can raise its head to one third of its body length and gives a malicious warning with its cobra-like neck-flap and its blue black mouth wide open.
If further agitated, the black mamba attacks with not only one but multiple bites, injecting large amounts of venom. Mortality from this snake's bite may occur within a matter of 20 minutes, and as mentioned, the chances of surviving the bite is less than none.
The black mamba feeds on rodents, bats, birds, lizards, voles, rats, mice, squirrels, and other small mammals. Some incidents also depict this snake to feed on other snakes including cobras. It injects its potent venom into its kill through its hollow fangs, causing rapid paralysis.
The saliva contains enzymes which help in digesting the prey, even before it reaches the stomach. The incredible speed, for which this African snake is well-known for, is mostly used in escaping threats and not during hunting.

Quick Facts

  • Female black mambas prefer using decaying vegetation as nests for laying their eggs. As the vegetation decomposes, it gives off heat and this helps in speeding up the hatching time of the eggs.
  • A female can lay 10-25 eggs.
  • Black mamba juveniles are usually 51 cm long and somehow, they become immediately able to catch prey the size of a small rat.
  • Mongoose, secretary bird, and larger species of eagle are known to be the natural predators of the mambas.
  • Apart from the black mamba, the mamba species include the Eastern green mamba, the Jameson's mamba, and the Western green mamba.
  • The mating season of this snake takes place in the spring, which occurs around September in the African regions.
  • Males are equipped with dual set of penises (hemipenes).
To conclude, the warm spring climate of October is the most active hunting period for the black mamba. And in the wild, it has a lifespan of about 11 years.