Discover the Largest Black Mamba Snake Ever Recorded!

Written by Jennifer Gaeng
Updated: July 4, 2022
Image Credit NickEvansKZN/Shutterstock.com
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The Black mamba is an incredibly venomous snake native to sub-Saharan Africa. It belongs to the Elapidae family and is often more aggressive than other species of venomous snakes. This snake is amazingly fast and can often reach 12 mph in speed! Although it is widely feared in Africa due to its venom and ability to strike several times at high speeds, it is also exceptionally long. So how big is the largest Black Mamba Snake ever recorded?

Largest Black Mamba Snake Ever Recorded

Black mamba
The largest black mamba was over 14 feet!

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The largest black mamba ever recorded was 14 feet, 9 inches in total. The king cobra is the world’s largest venomous snake; however, the black mamba is its closest rival in terms of size. When it comes to the length of this snake, its tail accounts for about two-thirds of its total length. Black mambas can grow to lengths of up to nine feet in the wild, but the average adult’s length is a little over six feet.

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Juvenile vs. Adult Black Mambas

Black Mamba
The Black Mamba has the fastest trike of any snake.

NickEvansKZN/Shutterstock.com

Juvenile black mamba snakes are usually paler in color, almost grey to deep brown, depending on how old they are. It is possible for the younger snakes to have predators. However, once they are full-grown, they have very few natural predators. The young tend to grow quickly, reaching over 6 feet just within their first year. When they reach adulthood, their nature becomes more unpredictable than when they were juveniles. An adult black mamba is skittish but also unpredictable with its movement. It is incredibly fast but will not strike unless provoked.

About the Black Mamba

black mamba slithering over small branch
Black mambas are both terrestrial and arboreal.

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Appearance and Behavior

Despite its name, black mambas are seldom black. While they are darker, the colors range from yellow-brown, light tan, olive, and gunmetal grey. Sometimes, their scales even reflect a purple hue. Their mouths are inky black and can often be on display whenever threatened. The black mamba, like the Cobra, will lift its head and open its mouth. It will then flick its tongue and even spread its neck into a hood before it lets out a series of hissing sounds. Usually, when it senses a threat is near, it will retreat into a hole or nearby brush, however, if its retreat is blocked, then it will begin its defense mechanism. If provoked, it will unleash a series of strikes, resulting in severe, often deadly consequences.

Habitat

While the black mamba is native to sub-Saharan Africa, it can also be found in central Africa, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Ethiopia. It prefers dry environments but also inhabits moist savanna and forests. It is rated the least of concern on the endangered species list because of its distribution across sub-Saharan Africa. This snake has an exceptionally broad range of distribution, though its place in West Africa has been disputed.

Diet

The black mamba’s diet consists of birds and small mammals. It hunts from a permanent spot or lair and often retreats to it unless disturbed. It prefers warm-blooded prey and can also eat other snakes. It will usually eat small rodents, juvenile mammals, and bats. When a black mamba hunts, it will strike its prey and let its venom run its course through the prey. The snake will wait for the animal to become paralyzed, and then it will swallow it whole, its potent digestive system fully digesting the prey for up to 8-10 hours.

Danger

The black mamba is one of the most venomous snakes on the planet. Its venom contains neurotoxins, often shutting down the nervous system and rarely causing any visible symptoms near the location of the bite itself. Symptoms of envenomation become apparent within 10 minutes and will require an antivenom. If an anti-venom is not received, then a person will begin to experience respiratory failure, which will lead to cardiovascular collapse and then death. This usually will happen within a 7-15 hour time span. Because this snake is highly venomous, it is listed as a snake of medical importance by the World Health Organization.

In Conclusion

Black Mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) toughest animal for toxicity - most toxic animal on earth
The black mamba is frightening due to its size and venom.

NickEvansKZN/Shutterstock.com

In Africa, the black mamba is among the most frightening snakes because of its size, ferocity, and, most importantly, its venom. Before the 1970s, more people were likely to die when bitten by a black mamba. However, after 1962, a black mamba anti-venom was introduced, thus treating more patients bitten by this snake specifically. Usually, it is more common for humans to be bitten during this snake’s mating season. However, bites outside of Africa are possible, though rare, mostly consisting of snake handlers and enthusiasts. Overall, you don’t want to go anywhere near this deadly snake, but it is fascinating to learn about!

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Black Mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) toughest animal for toxicity - most toxic animal on earth

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About the Author

A substantial part of my life has been spent as a writer and artist, with great respect to observing nature with an analytical and metaphysical eye. Upon close investigation, the natural world exposes truths far beyond the obvious. For me, the source of all that we are is embodied in our planet; and the process of writing and creating art around this topic is an attempt to communicate its wonders.

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