Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Mamba

We got Turkey for Thanksgiving, and now a deadly, venomous snake for Black Friday. Though did you know that the Black Mamba isn't really black? Their bodies are actually grayish-brown; the name comes from the color of their mouths, which they open and display when threatened.

(Image Source)
Black Mambas can be found in Southern and Eastern Africa. They live in a variety of habitats, but are most common in grass and scrubland areas. They are the longest venomous snakes on the continent, with average lengths of over nine feet, and some individuals reaching up to fourteen. Because of their long size, they can strike from four to six feet away, and they tend to strike multiple times.

Before their was an anti-venom, Mamba bites were 100% fatal. There is now an anti-venom, but because it kills so quickly there are still human deaths in many remote areas. Black Mambas are slowly loosing their habitat to farmland, which puts them in close proximity to humans. Their nervous demeanor allows them to get easily scared and defensive, especially when surprised or cornered. When threatened, they open their black mouths and spread a cobra-like hood on the sides of their neck.

Black Mambas feed off of rodents and birds, though they are capable of devouring prey much larger due to their flexible jaws. Aside from habitat loss, the only real threat to the Black Mamba is the Mongoose, though due to the snake's size the Mongoose preys only on eggs and young.

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