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Black mamba

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Black mamba
Black Mamba.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Dendroaspis polylepis

Black Mamba
Silver Black Mamba.jpg

The Black Mamba is species of venomous snakes that were given the scientific name Dendroaspis polylepis. They are one of Africa’s most dangerous snakes and one the largest venomous snake in the world, growing up to about 12-14ft. It can be found all throughout Africa and inhabits a wide variety of areas. They are very aggressive when threatened, striking with deadly accuracy and will not hesitate to do so.

Though its name is the Black mamba it is not always “black”. When young it tends to be more of a grayish green color, but as it gets older the skin on the snake will darken.[1]

Anatomy

Black Mamba up against the wall

The Black Mamba is the largest poisonous snake in all of Africa, it is also the second longest poisonous snake in the world. As adults, black mambas on average grow to be about 2.5 meters in length and a maximum of about 4.5 meters which is about 14ft. Like all of the other reptiles, the black mamba relies heavily on external heat to control the temperature of its body. Out of all the venomous snakes in the world there is only one snake that is longer, that snake is the King Cobra.

The snake's color isn't actually black. Usually the black mambas that are seen have more of a brown color to them [2], although some have a dark olive, olive green, grey brown, or metallic looking color. Some of the snakes have a light ring or band around their body. As the mambas get older, their skin begins to get darker.[3]

The black mamba is known to be the fastest moving snake in the world, and has been claimed to move at up to 12mph. There are four different ways that a snake can move. There is the concertina method, the serpentine method sidewinding, and also the rectilinear method.[4] The black mamba uses more of a serpentine method of moving itself.

Reproduction

The breeding of a black mamba occurs either in the late spring or early summer. When done mating the male will go back to its own home or wherever it may inhabit. The female usually will lay anywhere between 10 and 25 eggs during the time the male is gone, she will lay her eggs in rotting plants or things of that nature. As the plants rot they will then give off heat which helps insulate the eggs. The shell egg allows water and air to flow through to the embryo.

The babies of a Back mamba are usually about 20in long. They are normally a gray green color. The babies are on their own right from the beginning and their instincts allow them to catch their prey. The prey usually involves a small rat, mouse, or anything of that nature. In about a year the snakes will grow to be anywhere between 9-10ft. The younger more vulnerable mambas are preyed upon by mongooses and some of the larger birds of prey. [5]

Ecology

Black Mamba in a tree

The Black Mamba tends to live in Eastern Africa but can also be found in the southern parts of Africa. You will usually find them in the open areas such as the savanna, more rocky areas and the woodlands, which tend to be more open. They will make their home and will sleep or rest their every night. [6] Some of the more specific places you may find them include: termite mounds, hollow tree trunks, and in most of the African forests. [7]

Predatory behavior

Black mambas are diurnal snakes (active during the day) and can be seen hunting during the day or night. Their primary source of food are warm-blooded animals. You won't see them trying to take on something much larger than them, their food usually consists of small rodents, ground squirrels, or in some cases other small mammals. In the process of hunting the mamba will strike its prey twice and then wait for the venom to settle in. The venom the mambas uses is a neurotoxin which after a short period of time will paralyze the prey. Once the prey has been totally paralyzed the snake will move in and eat its meal. When hunting a bird the mamba will then wait and snatch the bird with its mouth and hold on to prevent any chance of the prey getting away. Digestion of the prey usually takes anywhere from 8-10 hours at the most. [8]

References