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Black Mamba

Snakes | Namibia

Introduction: The black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) has a characteristic 'coffin-shaped' head with a large, streamlined body. They favour termite nests, rock crevices and hollow logs and if disturbed this species will retreat unless cornered. Mambas also spread their hoods, rearing the front third of the body at the same time and will opening the mouth to reveal the black lining.

The recommended action if you do corner a mamba (as with all snakes) is to retreat and they will follow suit. They will not hesitate to bite you and as often as possible, so heed the 'hiss'. Large volumes of antivenom are required to counteract the venom of a black mamba and although you may remain conscious, muscles become paralyzed and death from respiratory failure is usually within 7 to 15hrs.

Distribution: The central plateau extending from the Tiras Mountains, north to Windhoek and on through Etosha National Park to the border with Angola, as well as the Okavango Delta and Moremi Game Reserve.

Diet: Small birds and small mammals such as dassie rats.

Colouring: A uniform 'gunmetal' to olive-brown back (never quite black though) with a pale grey-green belly. The mouth has a black lining.

Breeding: Females lay between 12 and 17 eggs in termite nests or other suitable nesting sites. Growth is rapid with a juvenile black mamba reaching 1m within the first year.

Size: Max SVL male 2.3m, female 2.5m.

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