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The black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) is a venomous elapid snake. It is the largest venomous snake in Africa and the second largest venomous snake in the world. Only the King Cobra is larger. Adult black mambas have an average length of 2.5 meters (8.2 ft) and a maximum length of 4.5 meters (14 ft). The black mamba receives its name from the black coloration inside of its mouth, rather than their skin color which is a gray to olive tone. The black mamba is the fastest moving snake in the world, capable of moving up to 20 km/h (12.5 mph). However it uses this speed to evade danger, rather than catch prey.
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Black mambas are among the ten most venomous snakes in the world. Black mamba venom can kill a human in 20 minutes. With a LD50 of 0.25-0.32 mg/kg, the black mamba is 3 times as venomous as the Cape Cobra, 5 times as venomous as the King cobra and about 40 times as venomous as the Gaboon viper. Black mamba venom contains powerful, rapid-acting neurotoxins and cardiotoxins, including calciseptine. Its bite delivers about 100-120 mg of venom on average, however it can deliver up to 400 mg of venom; 10 to 15 mg is deadly to a human adult. The initial symptom of the bite is local pain in the bite area, although not as severe as snakes with hemotoxins. The victim then experiences a tingling sensation in the extremities, drooping eyelids (eyelid ptosis), tunnel vision, sweating, excessive salivation, and lack of muscle control (specifically the mouth and tongue). If the victim does not receive medical attention, symptoms rapidly progress to nausea, shortness of breath, confusion, and paralysis. Eventually, the victim experiences convulsions, respiratory failure, and coma, and dies due to suffocation resulting from paralysis of the muscles used for breathing. Without treatment the mortality rate is 100%, the highest among venomous snakes.
Black mambas live primarily in the grasslands of Africa (mainly residing in the Democratic Republic of Congo) and, though not considered an arboreal species, can live in bushes and small trees. Its diet consists mainly of small birds and rodents and, despite the negative reputation, it plays a crucial role in regulating pests.
Breeding usually takes place in late spring or early summer. After mating the male will return back to its own home. The female will then lay between 10 and 25 eggs. The offspring are independent as soon as they are born and can capture prey the size of a rat.
Breeding takes place when the two mambas twist their bodies together and can last for days. Females wait approximately 55 days before laying eggs. Female offspring are not bigger than male offspring.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Black_mamba". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|