Black Mamba

© Roger de la Harpe


Black Mamba, Common or Black-mouthed Mamba [Dendroaspis polylepis]

Vital Statistics

Class - Reptilia Order - Squamata Family - Elapidae Length F - 2 530 mm Length M - 2 330 mm


The black mamba of South Africa is covered in grey to green gunmetal scales, which are smooth, with a pale-green underbelly. They have a distinct black mouth lining that gives them their name. It is a large snake, streamlined with a coffin shaped head.


The black mamba is found in the northern regions of Southern Africa. In South Africa, they live along the coastal regions from Kwa-Zulu Natal to Port St. Johns and elsewhere, but are absent from the desert.


The black mamba makes its nest in abandoned termite nests in South Africa. They lay up to 12-17 eggs, which hatch within 80-90 days after which they can rapidly grow up to 2000 mm in one year.


The venom of the black mamba is fatal to humans. The venom is neurotoxic, yielding up to 100 - 400 mg in one bite, where only 10 -15 mg is sufficient to cause a painful death.


The black mamba is carnivorous and feeds on small animals, such as fledgling birds, hyrax and rodents.