AnimalsReference

Black mamba

They're long, fast, venomous, and aggressive. Check out what some call the world's deadliest snake.

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Black mambas are actually brown in color. They get their name from the blue-black of the inside of their mouths, which they display when threatened.

Common Name: Black Mamba
Scientific Name: Dendroaspis polylepis
Type: Reptiles
Diet: Carnivore
Average life span in Captivity:  Up to 11 years.
Size: Up to 14 feet
Weight: Up to 3.5 pounds

Size relative to a 6-ft man

IUCN Red List Status: 
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The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is widely recognized as the most comprehensive, objective global approach for evaluating the conservation status of plant and animal species.

lc

Least Concern

At relatively low risk of extinction

nt

Near Threatened

Likely to become vulnerable in the near future

vu

Vulnerable

At high risk of extinction in the wild

en

Endangered

At very high risk of extinction in the wild

cr

Critically Endangered

At extremely high risk of extinction in the wild

ew

Extinct in the Wild

Survives only in captivity

ex

Extinct

No surviving individuals in the wild or in captivity

Data Deficient

Not enough information available to make an assessment

Not Evaluated

No assessment has been made

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Least Concern
lc
nt
vu
en
cr
ew
ex
least concernextinct
Current Population Trend: 

Stablearrow-right


What is the black mamba?

Black mambas are fast, nervous, lethally venomous, and when threatened, highly aggressive. They have been blamed for numerous human deaths, and African myths exaggerate their capabilities to legendary proportions. For these reasons, the black mamba is widely considered the world’s deadliest snake.

Range and characteristics

Black mambas live in the savannas and rocky hills of southern and eastern Africa. They are Africa’s longest venomous snake, reaching up to 14 feet in length, although 8.2 feet is more the average. They are also among the fastest snakes in the world, slithering at speeds of up to 12.5 miles per hour.

They get their name not from their skin color, which tends to be olive to gray, but rather from the blue-black color of the inside of their mouth, which they display when threatened.

Behavior

Black mambas are shy and will almost always seek to escape when confronted. However, when cornered, these snakes will raise their heads, sometimes with a third of their body off the ground, spread their cobra-like neck-flap, open their black mouths, and hiss. If an attacker persists, the mamba will strike not once, but repeatedly, injecting large amounts of potent neuro- and cardiotoxin with each strike.

Venom

Before the advent of black mamba antivenin, a bite from this fearsome serpent was almost always 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.

Encroachment on the black mamba's territory is not only putting pressure on the species but contributes to more potentially dangerous human contact with these snakes.

WATCH: World’s Deadliest Snakes Battle Over a Female

It's a behavior rarely observed in the wild: two black mambas entangled in a battle.

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