Black Mamba : The Most Feared Snake in Africa
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Native to Africa, the Black Mamba is considered the fastest snake in the world. Tall, fast on land and skillful tree climber, this venomous reptile is not lacking assets to impose itself in the forest.
Through this article, our team has transcribed all its knowledge on this fascinating ophidian so that you will be incollable on the subject once you have read it.
Let's discover a ruthless predator.
What is a Black Mamba ?
This one doesn’t have a very good reputation. It is one of the most deadly snakes in the world. It is the fastest snake in the world, and the second longest in the world (the longest in Africa).
The number of deaths caused by this reptile has been the subject of many myths among African populations and it has been blamed for thousands of human deaths. If you should one day come across its path, the only advice you should follow is to turn around and run away very quickly.
His bad reputation was not born without reason. Indeed, the African Mamba is a species of snake very toxic and fast. They are also very aggressive and do not hesitate to attack when they feel threatened. This ophidian is known to bite many times by injecting each time a large dose of its venom.
Although there is an antivenom available, it is difficult to obtain it in its native habitat, making it an extremely dangerous and potentially deadly snake. To put a figure on what it says and give you an idea of its dangerousness, it kills about 20,000 people every year in a country.
This venomous snake is one of the largest and most widespread in Africa. Its skin can vary from olive gray to metallic brown but is very rarely black.
Black Mamba Meaning
The Black Mamba owes its name to the inside of its mouth cavity, which is the only part of its body that has a blackish tint. Its abdomen is generally lighter than its back, grayish white or yellowish.
Black Mamba Size, Length & Features
This African Snake weighs about 3.3lb (1.5kg). It has a slender body, an elongated head, large dark eyes with a round pupil. Its size varies from 8ft2 (2.50m) to 13ft1 (4m) long, some reaching up to 14ft1 (4.3m) . These reptiles can live up to 11 years in their natural environment.
These data are approximate because it is difficult to obtain an accurate measurement of these snakes in the wild, as the animal often tends to wander at high speeds or to be crouched.
Initially, only a piece of string was used to measure its size, or the width of the road. Over the years, new studies have been carried out on this species in South Africa as well as on its entire living area. Some have been precisely measured by scientists and are now present in reptile parks where they are still being analyzed.
Black Mamba Speed
If this snake is so feared, it is mainly because of its speed which allows it to move faster than most humans, giving it no chance. Its average speed is about 7.5mph (12 kph) but when it feels threatened or sees its den in danger, it has an average speed of 14.3mph (23 kph).
This is extremely fast, but it is less than what is found in myths. Over long distances, it travels at an average speed of 11 kph.
This diurnal snake moves with amazing agility on land as well as in the trees where it climbs to reach its prey before returning to its burrow. The Black Mamba lives mainly on the ground where it is incredibly at ease.
Where Do Black Mambas Live ?
Black mambas are mainly found in the savannah and hills of South and East Africa.
They like low, open spaces and like to sleep in hollow trees, rocky crevices, burrows or empty termite mounds. Casanier, it spends its days looking for females or food but returns very quickly to its burrow. This sedentary snake moves in a delimited zone that it defends with aggressiveness if necessary.
The Black Mamba is active during the day and returns every night to the burrow to sleep. They are often found in tree branches early in the morning before going hunting. They sometimes travel in pairs or small groups. Despite its reputation, this snake is shy and prefers to escape the duel. Nevertheless, it does not hesitate to attack when it feels threatened.
You understood it, it is preferable not to irritate this dangerous reptile at the risk of being bitten.
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What Do Black Mambas Eat ?
The Black Mamba feeds mainly on small mammals, lizards, squirrels and other rodents. The African snake also eats small birds, their eggs or chicks that it catches by skillfully climbing trees.
To hunt, this reptile likes to ambush its prey: it raises its head high, remains motionless and observes the environment around it. When it attacks its prey, it bites it once and then waits for the neurotoxin in its venom to act on its victim. Once dead, he moves closer and swallows it.
Mamba's digestion is much faster than other snakes: it digests in only 1 hour compared to 8 to 10 hours for other ophidians.
Black Mamba Venom
The venom of the Mamba Snake a is called "Dendrotoxin", a poison that acts mainly on the nervous system by causing paralysis of the respiratory muscles. Its mortality rate is 100% if you do not use antivenom. Generally, a person dies within 30 minutes to 3 hours after the bite, leaving you little time to act.
Most bites of the Black Mamba occur when someone is between him and his burrow. Their lethality depends on several factors, such as the amount of venom injected and the location of the bite. It generally injects between 100 and 120 mg of venom, up to 400 mg in some cases. Only two drops of this venom can kill an adult male, i.e. 10 to 15 mg.
The first symptoms of a bite from a Black Mamba are headaches, excessive salivation and sweating and a tingling sensation. The cause of death is respiratory failure, asphyxia and circulatory collapse.
Before the antivenom was created, the bite mortality of this animal was 100%. Today, despite the deadly reputation of this snake, there are a surprising number of victims who survive its bite, but in the most severe cases, large doses of antivenom are required, up to 40 vials for a patient while the average is between 10 and 15 vials.
Black Mamba Snake Bite
Researchers analyzed 879 snake bites over a five-year period when the victims ended up in hospital. Only 5 bites were clearly neurotoxic and all were from bites of the Black Mamba. This equates to an average of one attack per year, which clearly does not match the statistics on its mortality rate.
Although most snake bite deaths in South Africa come from Black Mamba bites, the antivenom is very effective. However, it is extremely important to take victims to the hospital (if necessary) or use a valve mask if the victim is having difficulty breathing.
What to do in case of a bite from a Black Mamba ?
So what to do if you or someone you know gets bitten by a Black Mamba Snake ?
The priority is to transport the victim to the nearest appropriate medical facility as quickly as possible. First aid must focus on maintaining vital functions, such as respiratory assistance. Keep the victim immobile and try to limit any unnecessary movement. Remove all unnecessary objects (e.g. rings and clothing), especially those in the bite area. First aid treatment involves wrapping a tight bandage or tourniquet around the affected area to prevent the spread of venom.
Care of the victim
Medical management includes continuous monitoring, checking that the airways are open, treating symptoms and administering an antivenom immediately. An antivenom must be injected intravenously because it is poorly absorbed by the muscles. It is also important not to inject in or around the bite site.
In rare cases, the victim may be put on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, which is a means of providing prolonged cardiac and respiratory support to those whose heart and lungs are unable to supply oxygen to the body. This combination of respiratory support and antivenom can save a person's life. Over time, the antivenom will relieve muscle paralysis and put the victim on the road to recovery.
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Black Mamba: From Predator to Prey
Although it has a very toxic venom, the African reptile can also be hunted by other animals. Among these, warthogs attack all snakes and the Black Mamba is no exception.
This ophidian can also fall prey to mongooses or certain raptors. The mortality rate is especially high among the young which have more difficulty defending themselves against large birds, other snake species or large fish such as the giant grouper.
It is important to know that the African snake rarely attacks humans. In fact, it will only attack him if he feels threatened. So if you come across it, simply avoid disturbing it and there is no doubt that it will leave you alone.
Mating in Black Mambas occurs during spring or summer, usually between May and June.
During the mating period, males fight for the affection of females by trying to tackle the ground. Reptiles do not use their venom to fight each other and the loser bows and disappears into the wild. The winner then mates with all the females in its territory.
However, it is the female who has the final decision and who will choose whether or not she accepts the winner. Despite much research, scientists still do not know what factors will make her accept or reject the male.
After an incubation period of 120 to 130 days, the female oviparous lays between 12 and 17 eggs in a warm and humid burrow. She then leaves her eggs and never sees them again.
The babies, which hatch after 3 months, are green in color and measure between 15.7in and 23.6in (40 and 60cm) on average at hatching and show very rapid growth.
They don't hatch right away. They prefer to first empty the yolk all the way through so that they can last until their first meal. Provided with their venom a few moments after birth, they are able to feed themselves and become independent very quickly.
Juvenile Mambas are very nervous and rarely seen but we know that they develop very quickly and already reach 6.6ft (2m) in length after only one year.
Three months later, a new litter of Mambas is already born.
Black Mamba Facts & Myths
Symbol of Fear
One hypothesis concerning the name of this African reptile comes from the fact that it was originally called the Black-mouthed Mamba, a name that was later shortened to Black Mamba.
Known to be very aggressive, this snake is said to have once chased men on horseback. But the reality is that all these stories about Mambas chasing men are simply not true.
Another well known myth about the Mamba is that the Mamba hung from a tree and bit and killed five cows as it entered the Kraal. Although it is possible that this African ophidian could kill a horse or a cow with its venom, this almost never happens Remember, this one is very shy and rarely attacks. It would therefore have no interest in killing such large animals that pose no threat to it.
The Myth of Ndlondlo
Do you know this myth represented by a Black Mava with a feather on its head that moves terribly fast and attacks faster than lightning ? Its movement is so fast that it would produce a hissing sound.
It sometimes finds itself in the bush to cry like a child, supposedly to attract its victims who want to help the baby.
This myth makes it the most dangerous snake in the world.
You have understood it, this African Snake is a very venomous and fast reptile. This one being very shy in spite of him, you do not risk to cross it or to be bitten. Be careful all the same not to come to disturb it on its comfort zone because in spite of the fact that they fear man, it will have no pity to bite you if it perceives you as a threat.
There are other species of Mambas that are less poisonous and smaller than the Black Mamba but are still dangerous and toxic. All of them have a green color, they are also so-called "arboreal" species, that is to say they live in trees. All solitary in most cases, they are known to attack their prey by falling on them by surprise.