This snake’s potential danger has been the subject of many African myths and it has been blamed for thousands of human deaths.
It is the fastest land snake in the world, and “the longest species of venomous snake in Africa and the second longest in the world,” said Sara Viernum, a herpetologist based in Madison, Wisconsin.
Contrary to what its name would suggest, black mambas are actually brownish in color, ranging from olive to greyish tones, with paler bellies.
“They are named for the coloration of the inside of their mouths, which is a deep, inky black,” explained Viernum.
The black mamba's reputation is not undeserved.
“Black mambas are extremely toxic and very fast snakes,” Viernum said.
Then, they will “spread their cobra-like neck flaps [and] gape their mouths to expose the black lining.” This is a defensive posture aiming to scare away the threat.
If black mambas need to attack to defend themselves, they will “strike repeatedly, potentially deliver large doses of venom with each strike, and hiss loudly.” Then, they’ll slither away as fast as possible. Their greatest threat is habitat destruction, according to the ARKive.
Over longer distances, they average about 7 mph (11 kph).However, according to National Geographic, black mambas use their incredible speed to escape threats, not to hunt.Black mambas hunt and are active during the day and return to the same place every night to sleep.“When threatened with no perceived available escape, these snakes will raise their upper body off the ground to stand erect,” Viernum said.Their front third of their bodies can rise 3 to 4 feet (0.9 to 1.2 m) off the ground.
According to Widescreen’s ARKive Initiative, they are often seen “basking in the branches of a tree in the early morning” before going hunting.