Today at Light Future Art, we’re going to discuss some interesting and little known facts about the black mamba, and maybe set some myths straight while we’re at it.
1. Although it is true that black mambas can be dangerous, they prefer to flee when confronted with humans rather than attack. They are extremely skittish and if a human approaches within about 100 feet of one, they will immediately flee to bushes or a hole. If they feel trapped or provoked, they may bite, but that isn’t their instinctual first course of action.
2. Adult black mambas are on average 7 to 9 feet long, but some snakes have been found to grow up to 15 feet long. While not one of the largest species of snakes in general, it does come in second for strictly venomous snakes.
3. In the wild, black mambas can live up to 11 years old. They have few predators, the majority of them being birds. Mongooses and honey badgers also sometimes pose a threat to the snakes.
4. Despite the black mamba being one of the most deadly snakes in the world, the meanings behind its name and scientific name are surprising ordinary. Dendroaspis polylepis translates roughly to “tree asp, many scales” and mamba comes from a Zulu word which means scales.
5. During the mating season in the winter, rival male black mambas wrestle for the attention of females. Wrestling involves twisting their bodies together and competing for dominance with their heads. Researchers have sometimes mistaken this display as a courtship ritual.
6. The full habitat range of the black mamba is uncertain. There have been sighting all across Africa but many of them have not been proven. They are known to live in sub-Saharan regions and prefers to live in savanna climates with sparse covering of scrub brush.
7. Black mambas are both terrestrial and arboreal. They are comfortable slithering across dry and rocky terrain, at speed around 10 miles per hour. However, they also are capable of moving through treetops with the same agility and grace they exhibit on the ground.
8. Although the black mamba doesn’t often attack humans (most of their victims are researchers who get too close), many of those who have been bitten still die even after being given an anti-venom. Aside from the pain of being bitten, the venom itself isn’t very painful and victims may feel numb or tingling around the bite area. Many victims also faint. Over the years, more accurate and helpful anti-venoms have been developed and the percentage of victims who die is dropping.
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