The black mamba is the one that can kill. This is how native Africans perceive it. They experience a strong fear of this reptile, so they don’t even risk pronouncing its name aloud, because according to their belief, the mamba will appear and bring a lot of trouble to the one who mentioned it. Is the black mamba really that scary and dangerous? What is her snake temper? Maybe all this is medieval horror stories that have no justification? Let’s try to figure it out and figure it out.
View origin and description
The black mamba is a formidable poisonous reptile from the asp family, belonging to the mamba genus. The name of the genus in Latin is “Dendroaspis”, it is translated as “tree snake”. Under this scientific name, the reptile was first described by the British herpetologist, a German by nationality, Albert Günther. This happened back in 1864.
Indigenous Africans are indeed very afraid of the black mamba, which they consider powerful and dangerous. They call her “the one who avenges wrongs.” All these terrible and mystical beliefs regarding reptiles are not unfounded. Scientists say that the black mamba is undoubtedly very poisonous and very aggressive.
Video: Black mamba
The closest relatives of a dangerous reptile are the narrow-headed and green mamba, they are smaller than the black one. And the dimensions of the black mamba are impressive, among the poisonous snakes it is in second place after the king cobra. The average length of the snake body is from two and a half to three meters. There are rumors that individuals over four meters long have been encountered, but this has not been scientifically proven.
Many people incorrectly believe that the mamba was nicknamed black because of the color of its snake skin, this is not so. The black mamba does not have a skin at all, but the whole mouth from the inside, when the reptile is about to attack or gets angry, it often opens its mouth, which looks rather scary and menacing. People even noticed that the mamba’s open black mouth is similar in shape to a coffin. In addition to the black mucous membrane of the mouth, the mamba has other external features and signs.
Appearance and features
The characteristic structure of the mamba’s mouth is somewhat reminiscent of a smile, only very dangerous and unkind. We have already figured out the dimensions of the reptile, but its average weight usually does not exceed two kilograms. The reptile is very slender, has an extended tail, and its body is slightly compressed from the upper and lower sides. The colors of the mamba, despite its name, are far from black.
The snake can be of the following colors:
- rich olive;
- greenish-olive ;
In addition to the general tone, there is a characteristic metallic sheen in the color scheme. The belly of the snake is beige or off-white. Closer to the tail, spots of a dark shade can be seen, and sometimes light and dark spots alternate, creating the effect of transverse dashes on the sides. Juveniles are much lighter in color than mature individuals, it is light gray or light olive.
Interesting fact: Although the black mamba is inferior in size to the king cobra, it has poisonous fangs of much greater length, reaching more than two centimeters, which are mobile and fold as needed.
The black mamba has several titles at once, it can be safely called:
- the most poisonous reptile on the African continent;
- the owner of the fastest poisonous toxin;
- a long slate snake in African territory;
- the fastest reptile on the entire planet.
It is not for nothing that many Africans are afraid of the black mamba, it really looks very aggressive and ominous, and its considerable dimensions will put anyone in a stupor.
Where does the black mamba live?
The black mamba is an exotic inhabitant of the African tropics. The reptile’s distribution area includes several tropical regions cut off from each other. In northeast Africa, the snake settled in the vast Democratic Republic of the Congo, southern Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Kenya, Eritrea, eastern Uganda, Burundi, Tanzania, Rwanda.
In the southern part of the mainland, black mamba was registered in the territories Mozambique, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Zambia, Botswana, southern Angola, Namibia, in the province of South Africa called KwaZulu-Natal. In the middle of the last century, it was reported that a black mamba was found near the capital of Senegal, Dakar, and this is already the western part of Africa, although later nothing more was mentioned about such meetings.
Unlike other mambas, the black mamba is not very adapted to tree climbing, therefore, it usually leads a terrestrial life in more bushes. In order to warm up in the sun, the reptile can climb a tree or a massive bush, being on the surface of the earth for the rest of the time.
The reptile settles in the territories:
- river valleys;
- sparse forests;
- stony slopes.
Now more and more lands where the black mamba is constantly deployed are passing into the possession of man, so the creeping one has to live near human settlements, which is very frightening for the locals. Mamba often takes a fancy to thickets of reeds; in them, most often, sudden attacks on a person encountered by reptiles occur.
Sometimes a snake person inhabits abandoned old termite mounds, rotten fallen trees, rocky crevices that are not too high. The constancy of black mambas lies in the fact that, usually, they live for a long time in the same chosen secluded place. The snake guards its home jealously and with great aggressiveness.
What does the black mamba eat?
The hunting of the black mamba does not depend on the time of day, the snake can, both day and night, pursue its potential prey, because it is perfectly oriented both in the light and in the dark. The snake menu can be called diverse, it consists of squirrels, Cape hyraxes, all kinds of rodents, galago, birds, bats. When the hunt is not very successful, the mamba can also eat other reptiles, although it does not do this so often. Young growth often eats frogs.
The black mamba hunts most often, sitting in ambush. When the prey is detected, the reptile pounces with lightning speed, making its poisonous bite. After him, the snake crawls to the side, waiting for the action of the poison. If the bitten victim continues to run away, the mamba pursues it, biting to the bitter end, until the poor fellow is dead. Surprisingly, the black mamba develops considerable speed while chasing its dinner.
Interesting fact: In 1906, a record was set for the speed of the black mamba, which is on a stretch of 43 meters, reached 11 kilometers per hour.
The terrarium snakes are fed three times a week. This is due to the digestion time, it is not so long compared to other reptiles, and ranges from 8-10 hours to one day. In captivity, the diet consists of birds and small rodents. It is not worth overfeeding the mamba, otherwise it will burp excess food. When compared with pythons, the mamba does not fall into a state of stupor after a delicious meal.
Character and Lifestyle Features
The black mamba is very agile, agile and agile. As already mentioned, it moves rapidly, developing considerable speed during the race for fleeing prey. It was even included in the Guinness Book of Records for this very reason, although the figures were significantly overestimated compared to the record recorded in 1906.
The reptile becomes more and more active during the daytime, leading its poisonous hunt. The temperament of the mamba is far from calm, it is often subject to aggression. For a person, a reptile is a great danger, it is not for nothing that Africans are so afraid of it. Nevertheless, the mamba will not be the first to attack for no reason. Seeing the enemy, she tries to freeze in the hope that she will not be noticed, and then slip away. Mamba can take any careless and abrupt movement of a person as aggression in her direction and, defending herself, makes her insidious lightning attack.
Feeling threatened, the reptile rises to a stance, leaning on its tail, slightly flattening the upper body like a hood, opening its jet-black mouth, giving a final warning. Such a picture is terrifying, so the indigenous people are even afraid to pronounce the name of the reptile aloud. If, after all the warning maneuvers, the mamba still feels danger, then it attacks with lightning speed, making a whole series of throws in which it bites the ill-wisher, injecting its poisonous toxin. Often the snake tries to hit directly on the head.
Interesting fact: A dose of poisonous black mamba toxin, only 15 ml in size, leads to the death of a bitten person if an antidote is not administered.</em >
Mamba venom is very fast acting. It can take life from 20 minutes to several hours (about three), it all depends on the area where the bite was made. When an attack victim is bitten on the face or head, they can die within 20 minutes. The poison is extremely dangerous for the cardiac system, it provokes suffocation, causing it to stop. A dangerous toxin paralyzes the muscles. One thing is clear, if you do not introduce specialized serum, then mortality is one hundred percent. Even of those bitten who were given an antidote, fifteen percent may still die.
An interesting fact: Every year on the African mainland, from eight to ten thousand people die from the poisonous bites of the black mamba.
Now you know everything about the poisonous bite of the black mamba. Let’s now find out how these reptiles reproduce.
Social Structure and Reproduction
The wedding season for black mambas falls on the end of May – the beginning of June. Males rush to search for their lady of the heart, and females signal to them that they are ready for intercourse, releasing a special odorous enzyme. It often happens that several gentlemen claim one snake woman at once, so battles take place between them. Weaving into a writhing ball, the duelists make blows with their heads and try to raise them as high as possible to show their superiority. The defeated males retreat from the scene of the fight.
The winner gets the coveted prize – the possession of a partner. After mating, the snakes crawl away each in their own direction, and the expectant mother begins to prepare for laying eggs. The female builds a nest in some kind of reliable recess, equipping it with branches and foliage, which she brings with the help of her sinuous body, because she has no legs.
Black mambas are oviparous, usually there are about 17 in a clutch eggs, from which, after a period of three months, serpents appear. All this time, the female tirelessly guards the masonry, occasionally being distracted by quenching her thirst. Just before hatching, she goes hunting to have a snack, otherwise she can eat her cubs herself. Cannibalism among black mambas takes place.
Interesting fact: A couple of hours after birth, black mambas are already fully ready to hunt.
Newborn kites reach a length of more than half a meter (about 60 cm). Almost from the very birth, they have independence and are ready to immediately begin to use their poisonous weapons for hunting purposes. Closer to the age of one, young mambas become already two meters, gradually gaining life experience.
Natural enemies of the black mamba
I can’t even believe that such a dangerous and very poisonous person as a black mamba has enemies in nature who are ready to dine with this rather big reptile themselves. Of course, among the animals of ill-wishers, the black mamba does not have so many. These include serpent eagles, primarily black and brown serpent eagles, which hunt poisonous reptiles from the air.
The needle snake is also not averse to feasting on the black mamba, because. practically does not risk, because she has immunity, so the poison of the mamba does no harm to her. Fearless mongooses are ardent opponents of black mambas. They have partial immunity to the poisonous toxin, but they deal with the large serpentine creature with their dexterity, resourcefulness, agility, and remarkable courage. The mongoose harasses the reptile with its quick jumps, which it does until it seizes the opportunity to bite through the back of the mamba’s head, from which it dies. Most often, inexperienced young animals become a victim of the above animals.
People can also be attributed to the enemies of the black mamba. Although Africans are very afraid of these snakes and try never to contact them, they are gradually pushing them out of their places of permanent deployment by building new human settlements. Mamba does not go far from his chosen places, she has to adapt to life in the neighborhood with a person, which leads to unwanted encounters and poisonous fatal bites. The life of black mambas in natural, wild conditions is not easy, and in a good scenario, they usually live up to the age of ten.
Population and species status
Black Mamba has spread widely in various African states, preferring places where there are tropics. To date, there is no evidence that the population of this poisonous reptile has declined sharply, although there are some negative factors that complicate the life of this snake person.
First of all, such a factor is a person who, while developing new lands, occupies them for his own needs, displacing the black mamba from inhabited places. The reptile is not in a hurry to get away from the chosen areas and is forced to live closer to human habitation. Because of this, unwanted encounters between a snake and a person are increasingly occurring, which for the latter can end very tragically. Sometimes a person comes out victorious in such a fight by killing a reptile.
Terrariumists interested in black mambas are willing to pay huge sums of money to have such a pet, so black mambas are caught for the purpose of further sale, because the cost of a reptile reaches tens of thousands of dollars.
Still, you can to say that these dangerous reptiles are not endangered, their numbers do not experience large downward jumps, therefore, the black mamba is not included in the special protection lists.
In conclusion, I would like to note that even though the black mamba has increased aggressiveness, mobility and swiftness, without a reason she will not rush at a person. People often provoke snakes themselves, invading their places of permanent registration, forcing reptiles to live next to them and constantly be on the lookout.
The black mamba, of course, is extremely dangerous, but it attacks only in self-defense, contrary to various mystical beliefs that tell that the snake itself comes in order to take revenge and cause harm.