YOUR WEEKLY DOSE OF WOWZERS AND WONDER FROM THE NATURAL WORLD
Happy Saturday everyone!
If you’re like most people, you may find snakes to be creepy, crawly and downright terrifying.
But there’s more to these reptiles than meets the eye.
Slither on to learn about one of our favourites!
The Black Mamba
Big, fast and deadly. But does this slithery serpent really deserve its terrible reputation?
If you ever find yourself in Africa one day, you’ll want to keep your eyes peeled for the Black Mamba.
Not only is this snake one of the fastest to slink around on Earth, it’s also one of the most deadly.
But despite its scary reputation, Black Mamba’s would much rather avoid confrontation than seek it out.
In reality, they will only strike if they feel threatened, and they are pretty good at letting animals or humans know when they’re in an uncomfortable situation.
To warn off would be attackers, the Black Mamba will raise a third of its body off the ground, spread out its hood (much in the same way a King Cobra does, though to less dramatic effect), open its mouth wide to reveal a black mouth and tongue, and hiss loudly.
These are all very good indications that it’s time to move on.
Of course, staying clear altogether may allow you to avoid witnessing any of these warning signs in the first place.
In any case, avoiding a bite from this snake is key to survival.
Just one bite contains enough venom to kill up to 15 grown men, making the Black Mamba one of the most lethal predators on the planet.
It also has a habit of biting multiple times in quick succession, effectively delivering enough venom to render its victim’s nervous system useless in a matter of minutes.
Luckily for us humans, there is an effective antivenin available in locations where Black Mambas are most prevalent.
The key to survival is administering a dose as quickly as possible, otherwise it could be too late.
So, do Black Mambas deserve their deadly reputation?
The answer is both yes and no.
Without a doubt, the Black Mamba is a deadly snake, one of the most deadly on Earth, in fact. Its venom is lethal without an effective antidote.
But that doesn’t mean the Black Mamba should be feared.
Like all wild animals, it should be respected and viewed from afar. Leave it alone, and it will leave us alone.
Doing so will allow it to go about its business, hunting what it really wants to eat: small mammals, birds and other snakes.
Up to 3.5 lbs
Up to 14 ft
11 years or more
Black Mambas are actually more brownish in colour, ranging from olive to greyish tones. They get their name from the black inside of their mouths, which they display when they feel threatened.
They are among the fastest snakes in the world, slithering at speeds of up to 20 km (12.5 miles) per hour. They use this speed to escape threats, not to hunt prey.
World wrestling champs? Male Black Mambas wrestle over mating rights. The winner pins the loser’s head to the ground.
There are three other species of mambas: Jameson’s Mamba, Eastern Green Mamba, and West African Green Mamba. These mambas are smaller and slightly less venomous than the Black Mamba, though their venom is still powerful.
Being venomous and poisonous are not the same thing. In order to be effective, venom needs to be injected into the blood stream, while poison can be inhaled, swallowed, or even absorbed through the skin (by touching a poisonous frog, for example).
Contrary to popular belief, Mongooses are notimmune to Black Mamba venom, though they can tolerate small amounts of it. Because of this tolerance and their lightning quick reflexes, they are one of the only animals that Black Mambas have to watch out for.
Black Mambas are both terrestrial (ground-living) and arboreal (tree-living). They live in the savannas and rocky hills of southern and eastern Africa.
Check out this great footage of Black and Green Mambas in the wilds of Africa.