Dendroaspis polylepis (Gunther, 1864)
Range: Sub-Saharan Africa (less common in Western Africa)
Habitat: Wooded Savannah, Rocky Hills
Diet: Small Mammals, Birds
Social Grouping: Asocial outside of mating. Maintain home ranges, but not highly territorial and will share dens with other mambas or other snakes
Reproduction: Breeds October and November. Females lay up to 17 white, elongated eggs (often inside a termite mound) 2-3 months after mating, which hatch after 80-90 days. Young receive no parental care after eggs are laid
Lifespan: 11 Years (Wild), 20 Years (Captivity)
Conservation Status: IUCN Least Concern
- Africa's largest venomous snake, up to 4.3 meters long (usually up to 2.5 meters) and weighing up to 1.6 kilograms. The body is long and slender with a narrow head (often described as "coffin shaped"). Second longest venomous snake after the king cobra
- Olive-brown to grey in color; the common name is believed to refer to the inside of the mouth, which is black or dark blue. Underside is light gray. Younger snakes are lighter than old ones
- Considered the world's fastest snake, though its speeds are often exaggerated - it can move at 20 kilometers per hour for a short distance
- If threatened and unable to retreat, the mamba will rear up (sometimes enough to look a person in the eye), open its mouth, and expand the skin of its neck into a narrow, cobra-like hood
- Short, fixed fangs deliver a potent neurotoxin/cardiotoxin mix, capable of killing an adult human within 20 minutes. Venom causes paralysis, causing death through respiratory failure.
- Active by day, often basking in trees in the morning before hunting (climbs well, but is less arboreal than the green mambas), retiring to a refuge such as a hollow log, termite mound, or rock crevice at night; this lair may be permanent
- Males compete for females by intertwining their bodies and wrestling; they do not use their venom when fighting each other
- Originally divided into two subspecies, now considered to be one. Previously considered to be the same species as the green mambas, though they are now recognized as distinct.
- Latin name translates as "Tree Cobra with Many Scales"