• The 24-36 inch copperhead is responsible for approx. 35 % of all venomous bites in USA. Read More
  • Cottonmouth snakes forage by ambushing their prey, and will avoid humans at all costs. Read More
  • The average death rate from krait bites in Asia is 7 %. It is highly feared in India. Read More
  • The puff adder can strike with lightning speed and most of its victims are from Africa. Read More
  • Cobra's are the largest and deadliest snakes in the world. Read More
  • Known by its triangular head. The venom from the Russel's viper causes renal failure within hours.
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  • The coral snake is not as dangerous as people think and fatalities are uncommon.
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  • The gaboon is a rather calm snake, but deaths from its venom occur fast.
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  • Lancehead snakes accounts for approx. 90 % of all snake envenomations in South America.
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  • The rattlesnakes rattle is composed of scales. Amputations from its bite are common.
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  • The taipan snake has the lowest LD50-value of all snakes. 0.030 mg/kg can kill 50 people.
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  • Bushmasters are the largest vipers and lengths of 6 feet are common.
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  • The black mamba is largest and deadliest snake of Africa. Most, but not all, survive its bite.
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  • Fangs of sea snakes are mostly to short to penetrate human skin. Related to Cobras!
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  • Tiger snakes are roaming around Australia, including islands such as Tasmania.
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  • The death adder can attract prey by wiggling its tail. Its venom is slow to take effect.
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  • The boomslang is long and slender perfectly camouflaged African snake.
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  • Burrowings asps have the longest fangs relative to their head size of any snakes.
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  • The Moorish viper is the largest viper in Africa. It has a zig-zag pattern on its body.
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  • The horned viper is a typical ambusher. Usually, its bite is not deadly.
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  • The night adder is responsible for most venomous snake bites in Africa - it is not deadly.
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  • The most common types of antivenom and how it is produced and used.
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  • Read about people who has survived snake bites and see how bites affected them.
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  • See annotated videos of venomous snakes from around the world.
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  • See annotated images of venomous snakes from around the world.
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  • How did snakes evolve and how is the geological record of snakes.
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  • See a top 5 list of the most venomous snakes in the world.
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Drawings are ©

The Black Mamba: Fast, Deadly, and Agile

By Anders Nielsen, Ph.d.

The black mamba snake (Dendroaspis polylepis is the largest and deadliest snake in Africa. Many myths circulate with reference to the black mamba, but most are fictitious. One anecdote is that occasionally it decides to track people down throughout the woods. Nevertheless, it is an undeniable fact that the black mamba snake is both dangerous, agile, and highly venomous.

In Africa, the Black Mamba snake is the deadliest serpent

Notice that it is also the world's fastest snake in terms of travelling velocity, and in combination with its dangerous bite, trespassers on its territory must be extra careful not to agitate it.

The black mamba snake is not black. The "black" in black mamba is from its mouth being black, while the body is actually a light grey. Adult snakes reach a length of approximately 7 to 13 feet.

Most people recieve antivenom before they succumb to the venom

It is not true that most people die from black mamba snake bites. Most people get antivenin in time and survive an envenomation. In areas with black mambas, people are acquainted with the procedures to adhere to in the case of an envenomation.


The black mamba is found throughout South Africa. While it occupies many habitats, the black mamba habitually returns to a particular place for shelter where it feels safe.

Diet and Hunting Tactics

Black mambas are diurnal predators and hunt both on the detritus and in the trees. It consumes all types of animals, from rodents to invertebrates (insects) to amphibians and other reptiles. It relies solely on its venom’s capacity to paralyze prey animals. The reason behind this behavior is its slim body-build that doesn't allow it to rely on sheer muscle power like a typical constrictor.

Therefore, its tactic is to deliver a venomous bite, withdraw, and wait for the prey to succumb to the toxicity of its venom. Sometimes the prey will escape for a period, but the black mamba pursues its scent (smelling blood) and swallows the dying animal as soon it becomes too weak to offer any substantial physical resistance.

Fact box about the Black Mamba snake

However, as its bite is potentially lethal, it is no joke to be bitten by a black mamba, and newspapers frequently publish histories about fatalities from black mamba snake bites.

This video provides background information about the black mamba snake.

Black Mamba vs. Animal Kingdom

The black mamba is Africa's largest and one of the most venomous snakes in the world. It can grow up to 14 feet. It is also the world's fastest snake. This video will show how it attacks its prey (baby squirrels).

Venom and Bites

Any non-dry bite, with injection of venom, has the potential to lead to a fatality. The venom acts by paralyzing the nervous system. The venom eventually causes the envenomated prey to die from suffocation if the black mambadoes not swallow it before the paralysis begins.

Life Cycle

The females lay anywhere from 10-25 eggs that hatch late in the summer. Parental care is not present in mamba snakes, and the hatchlings are abandoned and unaided but ready to hunt and capture other animals immediately after hatching.

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