The Black Mamba, Dendroaspis polylepis, is a venomous snake from
Africa. They can be found in scrub land, bushes and small trees. They tend to live in permanent lairs for long periods if not disturbed. They usually make their homes in vacated insect mounds or hollow trees.
The Black Mamba is the largest venomous snake in Africa and the second largest venomous snake in the world. It grows to an average length of 8 feet and may even grow to over 14 feet. It gets its name from the inky black coloration inside its mouth. The color of the skin of the black mamba is varied from a dull, yellowish-green to a gun-metal gray. It is also one of the fastest snakes in the world, capable of moving at 12 to 15 mph.
The Black Mamba is diurnal and hunt prey actively. When hunting small animals, it delivers a single bite and backs off, waiting for the powerful neurotoxin from its venom to paralyze the prey. When attacking a bird, however, it will grasp onto it, preventing it from flying away, waiting for the venom to take effect. Its diet consists mainly of small birds and rodents and, despite the negative reputation, it plays a crucial role in regulating pests.
Bites from black mambas to humans are rare, although they tend to become extremely aggressive when threatened. If confronted by a human or other large threat, it will most often defend its territory. When it is in “strike” position it flattens its neck to display a narrow hood. Flicks its tongue and hisses very loudly. It may strike several times to ward off the threat. A bite from a black mamba to even a healthy human would be deadly if the wound wasn’t treated with antivenin within an hour. Even a low-severity bite will kill a human within 4 hours if not treated.
Once venom reaches the blood stream, the chance fatality rises quickly. The initial symptom of a bite is local pain in the bite area. The victim then experiences a tingling sensation in the extremities, drooping eyelids, tunnel vision, sweating, excessive salivation, and lack of muscle control. If the victim does not get medical attention, symptoms progress to nausea, shortness of breath, confusion, and temporary paralysis. Eventually, the victim experiences convulsions, respiratory failure, and coma, and dies due to suffocation resulting from paralysis of the muscles used for breathing. Usually almost all snake bite victims fully recover with the proper treatment.