Unquestionably one of the most deadly snakes on the planet, the Black Mamba is rightly feared wherever it occurs. It is found in three widely separate parts of the African continent and in South Africa it may be encountered in most of Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo and parts of the North West Province.
Named for the black inside of its mouth rather than its body colour and sporting a characteristic and ominous coffin-shaped head, a Black Mamba may lift up to 40% of its body length upright – meaning a large Black Mamba could deliver a bite to the head or torso of a fully grown man. The venom of the Black Mamba is neurotoxic and causes paralysis of the voluntary and involuntary muscular systems. It will bite readily and repeatedly if cornered or threatened, delivering 100-400mg of venom in a single bite; 10mg is sufficient to kill an adult human from respiratory paralysis in less than an hour though more usually within 7 to 15 hours without treatment with the correct type of anti-venom.
The Black Mamba inhabits savannas and forests and are territorial with specific spots in its home range where it likes to rest, sun bathe, etc. They are diurnal and very active, fast and agile hunters both in the trees and on the ground. They feed on birds and small mammals.
After mating, usually in the months of spring and summer, female Black Mambas lay around 12 eggs in termite mounds or similar hide-aways. The eggs hatch about three months later. Young Black Mambas grow rapidly and from a length of 40-60cm when they hatch may grow to 2m in length by the time they’re a year old. Even newly hatched babies are deadly venomous. Adults measure up to 4.5m long, the biggest venomous snakes in Africa, and may have a lifespan of 20 years.