Fighting Black Mamba Snakes

May 28, 20230 comments

Black mamba fighting

Let me tell you about a recent sighting that I encountered. Now, its not very often that you would encounter snakes out on a safari or anywhere for that matter, as snakes can be rather difficult to spot at the best of times. Black mambas are generally a confident snake that will usually try and leave humans alone as we do not fit their diet plan. So, when they do lash out at us, it’s mostly because they get startled or cornered as they will come into houses following the scent of a prey item. Not only that, but Black Mambas are really feared by many people in Africa and are given as wide a berth as possible in fear of getting chased and bit when in fact they are just trying to get away from us. Most times when I do see them, they are in a road busy sunbathing as they are exothermic and require a little time in the sun and as soon as I get too close slither away into the bushes. I have also occasionally seen them in trees being mobbed by a group of birds trying to chase it away.

Black mamba

So, just a few facts about Mambas in particular.

  • There are currently 4 species of Mambas. 3 species are green and are all arboreal (tree dwellers and 1 is black which is mostly terrestrial (ground). Only the black mamba is found in the Lowveld.
  • The black mamba isn’t black in colour, but rather brown or grey. It gets black from the colour inside of its mouth, which is jet black.
  • All the mambas have a neurotoxic venom. This venom affects the nervous system and basically stops the communication between the brain and vital organs.
  • Mambas are daytime hunters. Catching small birds, rodents and lizards.
  • Mambas are also members of the Elapidae family. These snakes have fixed fangs at the front of the mouth. Most of which are venomous.
  • Black Mambas are Africa’s longest venomous snake, reaching lengths of up to 4.2 metres (14 feet). 
  • They are also one of the fastest, reaching speeds of up to 20km/hour (12.5 miles/hour). Their rapid movements, combined with their slender body shape and muscular structure, make them formidable opponents.

So, back to the video. In the video, you see 2 Black Mambas wrestling.

Now, males being territorial will do this for mating opportunities and to defend their territories from other males. What they do is wrap their bodies around one another and try to get into a position where they can push their opponent’s head down to show dominance and strength.  The one that stays on top wins. These fights can last for a very long time and can cover a large distance if the 2 mambas are of similar length and strength. As for who won between the 2 in the video, I can’t be 100% sure as they moved off into some very long grass and there is no way that I would follow them. I like to think that I have a healthy respect for these snakes and would much prefer to encounter them in a reasonably open area like on the road I found them on and not overstay my welcome.

Blog and video by Buffalo Camp guide: Mark Volker


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