This native African snake is about 14 feet (4.3 meters) long, and is one of the world’s deadliest snakes. This is because of its potent venom — just two drops of black mamba venom can kill a human. It is actually grayish-brown in color, but the inside of its mouth is black, which is why it’s called the black mamba. It is also the world’s fastest land snake, reaching speeds of up to 12 miles (19.3 kilometers) per hour. However, it usually uses its incredible speed to run away, and not to hunt.
When in defensive mode, it lifts the front of its body 3 to 4 feet (0.9 to 1.2 meters) off the ground, and then opens its mouth and hisses, revealing the dark, menacing interior. It will spread out its flat, cobra-like hood and shake its head to scare away the threat. If all of that doesn’t work, then it will swiftly strike at the threat and flee with incredible speed.
They are skittish, violent snakes, so it’s best not to cross paths with them. However, they are rather shy of humans and will generally flee if there’s a chance of an encounter.
They hunt small animals, biting their prey, waiting until the venom paralyzes it, and then swallowing it whole. The black mamba’s flexible jaw allows it to swallow prey that is four times larger than its head! With smaller prey, the mamba will bite and hold on, waiting for it to die, and then swallow. But with larger prey, it will bite, then free the prey and follow it until it dies before eating it.
Black mambas are featured in the following books: 25 Most Deadly Animals in the World. 25 of the Most Poisonous Animals in the World! 25 Top Predators in the World – Books . 25 Awesome Snakes of the World!
The YouTube video below contains a playlist of videos about the black mamba. The list of videos featured is underneath.
- Black Mamba vs. Animal Kingdom. National Geographic gives plenty of information and a good look at the black mamba in action.
- NATURE | Black Mamba | Catching a Deadly Snake | PBS. The perils of snake catching. Here a couple of snake catchers have to find and catch a black mamba from a hotel room!
- How snakes move & ‘run’ – Serpent – BBC Animals by BBC Worldwide. The second part of this clip looks at the black mamba and its incredible speed.
- Black Mamba by Andy Sherwood. A lovely compilation of video and images of the black mamba that make you feel like the snake is in the same room!