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Mamba

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Mamba
800px-Dendroaspis viridis.jpg
Scientific Classification
Species

Mambas are venomous tree-dwelling snakes that are found in Africa. There are many different species of Mambas that carry potent neurotoxic venom, which is often fatal to humans if not treated immediately. The most common and well known Mambas are the Black and Green Mambas. The Black Mamba is not named for its color, which is often a grey or olive green color, but for the highly pigmented interior of its mouth. The Western and Eastern Green Mambas are less venomous, but the bites can also be fatal. Black Mambas are not arboreal (tree-dwelling), but instead reside in hollow insect mounds, abandoned burrows, and rock crevices.

Mambas are related to Cobras and unlike other snakes, will strike repeatedly when backed into a corner. They have been reported to bring down a baby giraffe and a lion with their venom.[1] Following the King Cobra, the Black Mamba is the longest venomous snake in the world. The Lifespan of a Mamba is up to 12 years. Mambas feed on rodents, birds, lizards, and other small mammals. Black Mambas are considered to be invulnerable since their toxin is so potent. Any animal that kills them and tries to digest them will become intoxicated and die.

Contents

Anatomy

Eastern Green Mamba in tree (Dendroaspis Angusticeps).

The body of a Western Green Mamba is long and slender, the head is small and can easily be told apart from the neck. The length of its tail is responsible for 20-25% of the Mamba's total length. These Mamba's vary in color. Most of them are emerald green, olive green, greenish-yellow, and some are sky blue or pure yellow. They have scales, which are very big for an elapid (a family of highly venomous snakes found in tropical and subtropical regions around the world, and the skin between the scales is visible. The green color of this Mamba are used to help it hide from predators while resting in the trees. The Mamba's jaw can dislocate, and its skin is elastic, allowing it to swallow prey up to 4 times the size of its head.[2] The Black Mamba is 8-10 feet in length on average, though some have been measured up to 14 feet. They are not black, but closer to an olive-gray color. The name Black Mamba comes from the black and purple color of its mouth. Their belly color is usually a light green or gray color. The Black Mamba is the fastest land snake in the world, reaching speed of 10-14 mph. Mambas are all cold-blooded. They bask in the sun during the day, and in the summer the snake will take cover in its burrow to escape the heat. Mambas have very good eyesight and can strike lightning fast.[3]

Venom

Black Mamba venom contains neurotoxins and cardiotoxins. The bite of a Black Mamba gives around 100-120 mg of venom on average, but it is capable of giving up to 400 mg. 10-15 mg is deadly to a human. Black Mamba bites are not always fatal. If the venom reaches the bloodstream quickly, there is a much higher chance of death. The first symptom of a a bite is pain in the bite area. There is then a tingling sensation in the extremities, drooping eyelids, sweating, lack of muscle control (mouth and tounge), tunnel vision, and excessive salivation. If the bite victim does not recieve medical attention the symptoms move to shortness of breath, nausea, confusion, and temporary paralysis. The victim will then have convulsions, respiratory failure, and then slip into a coma and shortly thereafter, they will die due to suffocation due to paralysis of the muscles required for breathing. Most people will recover if given proper treatment, without treatment, mortality rates are 100%.[4] The Eastern Green Mamba's venom is highly neurotoxic. Their venom is similar to that of the Black Mamba, but just one-tenth as toxic. The snake's size is the cause of the lesser amount of venom deliverance. Even so, bites are still potentially fatal, and should be treated immediatley.[5]

Reproduction

Reproduction takes place in spring and early summer. Males may travel long distances in search of a female. After the snakes mate, they return to their own burrows. Females will lay between 10 and 25 eggs. They usually lay the eggs in decaying vegetation. The reason for this is that the vegetation gives off heat, which helps to warm the eggs and speed up the hatching time. The shells of the eggs allow oxygen and water to reach the embryo. Black Mamba hatchlings are usually around 51 cm long and are a greenish-gray color. They are independent and can immediatley catch prey the size of a small rodent. The predators of young mambas are mogooses, and even adult Mambas are eaten by the secretary bird and larger species of eagle. The eggs will hatch about 3 months after birth and reach maturity when they are 3-4 feet in length.

Ecology

Mambas are found in South and Central Africa. Black Mambas spend their nights in unused burrows or hiding deep among fallen rocks or timber. These are also used as protection from enemies. Green Mambas are arboreal, they spend most of their time in trees. Black Mambas are not arboreal, but are often found in trees either to escape from enemies or to hunt. They are found in South Africa and prefer habitats such as open savannas, rocky places, or open woodlands. Black Mambas are found in pairs or small groups.

Gallery

References

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