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Black Mamba

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Species group:

Scientific name: Dendroaspis polylepis

The basics:
Stories concerning the aggressive nature and venom strength of snakes are often exaggerated. However, the Black Mamba comes close to living up to the legends that surround it. Extremely aggressive and delivering 100-120 milligrams of venom in a typical bite (the lethal dose is only 10-15 mg), Black Mambas cause many deaths in Africa. The fatality rate for untreated bites is 100%. Many zoos avoid exhibiting this species, which of course should never be kept in private collections.

The Black Mamba is found throughout much of south and east Africa south of the Sahara, from Eritrea to  Namibia and South Africa. There are scattered reports of sightings in tropical western Africa.

The Black Mamba inhabits open forests, savannahs, thorn scrub, desert fringes, farms and villages. It climbs well and often shelters in tree hollows and thatched roofs.

Appearance / health:
The Black Mamba is the longest of Africa’s venomous snakes. It averages 2.2 – 2.7 meters (7.2 - 8.9 ft) in length, but in rare cases may reach 4.5 meters (15 ft). The un-patterned body may be olive, tan, brown or gray in color. The “black” part of its common name is derived from the color of mouth’s interior, which is displayed when the animal is threatened

Zoo specimens are stress-prone and do not live as long as most other snakes, usually to age 8-12.

Behavior / temperament:
In the confines of zoo exhibits, Black Mambas are always on the offensive, and very difficult to work with. As it is nearly impossible to service a cage occupied by a Black Mamba, zoos utilize shift cages in order to limit the possibility of bites.

It is impossible for a private snake owner to adequately prepare for or treat a venomous snakebite, or, prior to a bite, to arrange for treatment in a hospital.

Black Mambas actively hunt for frogs, lizards, snakes, birds, and mammals such as rock hyraxes and monkeys. Zoo animals are fed rats and mice.

Written by Frank Indiviglio


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dangerous terrestrial snakes, Adult Black Mambas, Untreated mamba bites, dangerous snake, fastest snake

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