Acquired: Worked with pet (didn’t own)
New York, United States
Posted Jan 23, 2016
Although I have worked with green mambas and other Elapids (cobras, seasnakes, kraits, coral snakes and their relatives) in zoos for many years, they have always kept me on edge, and ill at ease. Mambas are far more alert, fast-moving, and high strung than are most other snakes. I’ve always believed that “discretion is the better part of valor” where they are concerned. The last time I was called upon to pack up and ship a black mamba, my younger co-workers excitedly anticipated the coming “battle”. My tactic of keeping the snake so hungry that it shot into the packing crate (which I had scented with a mouse) on its own was a great let-down – but I’m alive to recount the story!
Although they are fascinating, green mambas are suitable for display in zoos only, and should never be kept in private collections. People who are genuinely interested in working with venomous snakes are best-advised to seek careers as herpetologists or professional zookeepers.
The mamba venom, fully capable of causing rapid fatalities, is quite complex. Neurotoxins, which affect the nervous system by causing respiratory failure and cardiac arrest, predominate. However, all Elapid venoms have hemotoxic components as well, along with the enzyme Hyaluronidase, which speeds venom diffusion.