If you want to utter a name that strikes fear into the heart of most people, simply whisper “Black mamba” - for their reputation is legendary. Yet most of it is shrouded in folklore and misunderstanding. For instance - many people tell the tale of being pursued on horseback by a black mamba - yet the maximum speed of a black mamba is around 20km per hour, and they can only maintain that for a very short time, while the maximum speed of a horse exceeds 70km per hour - guess that explains why you hear of very few people actually being CAUGHT by those pesky horse chasing mambas?
The black mamba is the second longest venomous snake in the world, after the King Cobra. It falls into the family “Elapidae” which have fixed, front fangs. Their name is not from the colour of their scales, but from the colour inside their mouth which is obvious when they gape.
Tthe black mamba is in fact a shy,nervous snake, who will try to avoid people. However, back one into a corner and try to chop its head off....well, yes, its likely to react in a way you might not like....nothing too surprising there! As with all snakes, the safest thing for both you and the snake is to leave it alone whenever possible.
That being said, black mamba venom is a potent and fast acting neurotoxin (more information on that in the “snake” section) and any bite must be treated as a medical emergency.
You can read Rick's account of his Black Mamba Bite - it happened several years ago during the course of what should have been a regular call-out, and highlights the fact that the snake was not at fault. As with 90% of all bites in this country, the mamba was backed into a corner and felt intensely threatened. To top it off, it was "in the blue", ie about to shed its skin and hence its vision was greatly reduced.
If you'd like to learn more about how snakes REALLY behave (instead of how the local guy at the pub who claims to know EVERYTHING about them....and then proceeds to fill your head with hogwash....says they behave!) then join us at 11 am or 3pm for one of our demonstrations. Just another thing to keep you busy when you are visiting Mpumalanga, but our visitors tell us it is well worth the time spent! Please be aware, our dems are only held if the weather is accomodating, as our facility is outdoors! You can also download the app on your ipad or Android tablet by scanning the QR code here:
Carolyn Budai, owner and passionate animal person.