Species group: Cobras and other Elapids
Scientific name: Dendroaspis polylepis
The Black Mamba is a diurnal venomous snake which is native to a variety of
climates ranging from savanna, woodlands, rocky slopes, dense forests and even humid swamps of Africa. The Black Mamba usually uses its speed to escape from threats rather than for hunting. Humans are actually their predators, rather than their prey. For that reason, mambas generally avoid contact with humans. Black Mamba bites can potentially kill a human within 20 minutes, but death usually occurs after 30–60 minutes, sometimes taking up to three hours.
Size and Coloration: Its name is derived from the black coloration inside the mouth; the actual color of the skin varies, from dull yellowish-green to a gun-metal gray. It is the fastest snake in the world, capable of moving at 4.5 to 5.4 meters per second.
Captive Care: Keeping venomous or “hot” snakes is extremely dangerous and can result in serious injury or death. Some experts suggest that every venomous snake keeper should expect to be bitten at some time in their career, and need to have a plan should a bite happen. This advance planning includes knowing exactly which local hospital has an available supply of antivenom for the species kept. The hobby is further complicated by laws in many areas which prohibit capturing snakes in the wild, and which do not allow the keeping of dangerous animals, including venomous snakes.Still, reptile lovers who have had longtime experience with non-venomous snakes sometimes feel the need to venture into the challenging world of hot snakes. Although some find it ethically questionable, as a compromise, some snake keepers prefer to keep “devenomed” or “venomoid” snakes. These are venomous snakes who have had their venom glands severed or removed, so they are not able to inject venom in a bite.
Diet: In the wild, the Black Mamba feeds on rodents, squirrels, dassies and other mammals.
Temperament: Black mamba bites can potentially kill a human within 20 minutes, but death usually occurs after 30–60 minutes, sometimes taking up to three hours.