Black Mamba: Characteristics and Curiosities

The black mamba snake is considered the fastest snake in the world. This, together with its potent venom, inspires fear and respect in people.
Black Mamba: Characteristics and Curiosities

Last update: 02 June, 2022

The black mamba is a venomous snake that can reach great speeds. It’s currently considered the fastest snake in the world.

Characteristics of the black mamba

The black mamba has the scientific name Dendroaspis polylepis and is native to Africa. It’s well-known in Central and East Africa for being a very aggressive, venomous and species.

This snake is part of the genus Dendroaspis, commonly called mambas. These elapids have a worse reputation than cobras or vipers, due to how dangerous they are.

The head of the black mamba is narrow and elongated, differentiated from the neck, with a distinctive ridge. Two large curved fangs can be observed as this animal’s only teeth.

Mambas, like vipers, have movable jaws, allowing them to move their fangs. On the other hand, their venomous canines are longer than those of cobras.

Their body is slender, with a neck that can flatten if angered, but it doesn’t have a hood. As for the total length of the animal, it can reach four meters (13.1 feet).

Adult specimens range in color from olive-brown to dark gray, and its body is made up of long, smooth scales.

The black mamba is an oviparous animal, which hatches from eggs deposited outside by the mother, which is typical of the African savannah and jungle. In addition, although this snake has more terrestrial habits than green mambas, it’s also arboreal.

They’re usually found in caves, located between rocky fissures or arboreal cavities. However, the nests are made in underground chambers, where the females lay their eggs.

A black mamba.


The black mamba snake is a shy animal that prefers to live away from humans. However, if it feels threatened, it can attack quickly without warning.

It’s characterized by being an excellent climber and mimic, being able to hide easily among vegetation. This species’ only prior warning before attacking is when it opens its mouth, bobs its head, and inflates its neck.

The black mamba can attack from a distance and make several bites in quick succession. For this reason, these snakes can cause bites on more serious areas, such as the head or chest.

This animal is very agile and aggressive, especially when it feels threatened. There are four different species of mambas, with the black mamba named because of the color of its mouth.

Mambas are the fastest snakes, capable of reaching 15 km/h, even in the densest undergrowth. Compared to the human speed of 2 km/h in a wooded area, the speed of these snakes is considerably higher.

This species is territorial and dominant, observing fights between males during the mating season. The ultimate goal of the fight is for the winner to keep the females in that area.

Likewise, mambas’ young are also dangerous and remain in the trees until they reach a certain size. Young specimens have a smaller amount of venom, but it’s more concentrated.

Curiosities about this species

In Africa, they’re called “snakes of the seven steps“, since it isn’t possible to take more then seven steps after being bitten by them. Their venom is so powerful and they’re capable of causing such a quick death, that they’re feared all over the world.

It seems that the venom of the black mamba snake doesn’t only serve to kill the prey; it has another quality. It may help it to digest its prey, breaking it down faster.

It has been observed that mambas are capable of digesting small prey in a few hours. However, other snakes of the same size take days to do so.

The black mamba snake is a natural predator, but it also has predators of its own. Birds of prey are the only ones that hunt adult specimens of this species.

A black mamba.

Snakes have commanded respect for centuries, but we should bear in mind that really they’re peaceful animals. When faced with a snake, never make any abrupt gestures that could be interpreted as a threat.

Nature has allowed the existence of such curious animals as the black mamba, considered the fastest snake in the world. and now you know more about then than before!

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The contents of My Animals are written for informational purposes. They can't replace the diagnosis, advice, or treatment from a professional. In the case of any doubt, it's best to consult a trusted specialist.