by Staff writer
No other snake so perfectly combines the possession of a highly potent venom with special behaviors that ensures it gets into you than the black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis).
They are extremely fast – covering remarkable speeds of up to 12.5 miles per hour (5.5 meters per second) – therefore can easily outrun you.
They are nervous — shy and nervous snakes are known to bite at the slightest provocation.
When cornered, the black mamba will raise its head, sometimes with a third of its body off the ground, spread its cobra-like neck-flap, open its black mouth, and release a warning hiss.
If the attacker persists, the mamba will strike not once, but repeatedly, injecting large amounts of highly potent neuro- and cardiotoxic venom with each strike.
Before the advent of black mamba antivenin, a bite from this fearsome serpent was 100% fatal, usually within about 20 minutes!
Unfortunately, antivenin is still not widely available in the rural parts of the mamba’s range, and mamba-related deaths remain frequent.
The black mamba has a wide and fragmented range within sub-Saharan Africa.
The snake has been observed in the following countries:
1. Democratic Republic of the Congo
17. South Africa
20. Central African Republic