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Black Mamba Snake

Updated on September 13, 2015
Black Mamba showing the inside of her mouth.
Black Mamba showing the inside of her mouth.

The Black Mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) can be found mostly on the East Coast of Africa but also in Central and Southern Africa, in countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana and Namibia. They are also called black-mouthed mamba or common black mamba.

The Black Mamba prefers sparsely forested areas and savanna but has adapted to a variety of climates and can be found also in rocky slopes, farmlands, swamps and dense forests. They often use abandoned termite mounds or hollow trees for shelter and to cool down.

An adult snake, measures between 2.5 and 4.5 meters, and is able of rearing up to a third of its body length in the air. On average Black mambas weigh about 6 kg, although they can reach up to 12 kg.

They have a grey to olive colour with lighter scales around their head, the name, Black Mamba derives from the black colour present inside their mouth.

There is no sexual dimorphism, males and females have a similar appearance and similar size. This snake species has a life expectancy of around 12 years in the wild.

Black Mamba is the second longest venomous snake species in the world, after the King Cobra, but the largest in the African continent. It is also the world's fastest snake, reaching a maximum speed of 20 km/h using this speed to get away from other animals that may offer danger and to pursue and attack their prey, often repeatdly.

Black Mamba - Scientific classification

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Subphylum: Vertebrata

Class: Reptilia

Order: Squamata

Suborder: Serpentes

Family: Elapidae

Genus: Dendroaspis

Species: D. polylepis

Black Mamba - Diet

The base of the feeding of these snakes consists of small mammals, especially rodents, and birds that it captures in his advances to trees, which climbs with frequency and ease. It also hunts and kills other snakes occasionally.

Black Mamba - Reproduction

The mating takes place in late spring or early summer, October to December in Africa. The female black mamba deposits up to 18 eggs in a nest, guarding it over an incubation period of about 80 to 90 days, juveniles are born with approximately 20 cm in length. They reach maturity with little more than 1 meter in length. The juvenile Black mambas are self-sufficient from birth and are able to catch preys as a big as rats.

Black Mamba - Venom

The Black Mamba is the second most venomous snake in the world, exceeded only by the Indian taipan. The venom is mostly neurotoxic (damages the nerve tissue), but also cardiotoxic and can lead to the heart muscles stop functioning.

Its bite is extremely deadly. Depending on the location where the injection of the venom occurs, if the victim is not treated in less than 20 minutes, it leads to almost certain death.

Black Mamba - Conservation status and major threats

This species is not under any major threat, so it is not enclosed in any conservation status.

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Male Black Mambas in combat
Male Black Mambas in combat

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