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Black Mamba (Dendroaspis Polylepis) – Facts, Habitat, Diet and More

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Famous as one of the deadliest snakes in the world, the Black Mamba is one of the four different species of snake in the Dendroaspis genus. The black mamba is well-known as one of the World’s most dangerous snake species. However, people usually vilify this nervous snake species.


In most cases, the black mamba snake avoids confrontation from humans and other predators unless it is trapped or cornered. As you read further, you’ll learn more about the Black Mamba.


  • Scientific name: Dendroaspis polylepis
  • Class: Reptilia
  • Family: Elapidae
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Conservation status: Least Concern (Population stable)
  • Phylum: Chordata

Description of the Black Mamba

Despite the name of this species, it is not exactly a black snake. The scales of this snake are more of a grey or an olive green color than black. These snakes are usually very long and have a narrow body, with a relatively narrow head.

On average, adult black snakes measure about 8 or 9 ft. In length. Some reports of sightings indicate that the species may reach or grow longer than14 ft. in length. These snakes generally weigh 3 or 4 lbs. Averagely.

Interesting Facts About Black Mamba

Black Mamba

People often misunderstand this highly venomous species. Learn more about what makes this snake unique below.

  • Speed Slither – The black mamba is an active predator; thus, this snake needs to be active enough to out-slither or outrun its prey. In short distances, these snakes can reach speeds of 12.5 mph!
  • Terrestrial Territory – The black mamba spends most of its time on the ground, and that makes them primarily terrestrial. However, these snakes can climb into trees to chase prey or while they are hunting.
  • Lurking Lairs – This species of snake spends most of its early mornings and late afternoons in search of prey. When the black mamba needs a break, it goes back to a termite mound, or its favorite hollow tree to hide. These snakes usually use the same lair constantly.
  • Macho Males – During the mating season, male mambas wrestle with one another to get the attention of females. The males stand up from the ground and battle as they wrap their necks together. Each black mamba male attempts to pin the other’s head to the ground.

Habitat of the Black Mamba

These snake species spend most of their time on the ground, how they live in different habitats, especially in forested regions.

They prefer various ecosystems with a wide range of hiding places, including areas with rocks. Some of the different snake habitats include woodlands, forests, savannas, grasslands, and more.

Distribution of the Black Mamba

This black mamba can only be found in a few regions of Africa. They reside throughout much of eastern and central Africa.

Their range in these areas extends from Nigeria and Cameroon to Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia, and Tanzania. Another black mamba population lives across the southern parts of Africa, including Namibia, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Botswana, and surrounding areas.


Diet of the Black Mamba

As a predatory species, this snake eats other animals and doesn’t feed on plants or tiny insects. Their main prey is rodents, including rats, hyraxes, mice, squirrels, and more. They also hunt bats, birds, bushbabies, and other snack-sized animals.

Their main method of hunting for these snakes is actively searching for prey and chasing them down. After striking a prey and injecting its venom several times, these snakes wait for their prey to die before proceeding to eat it.

Black Mamba and Human Interaction

Black Mamba

When it is possible, the black mamba snake tries to avoid any contact with humans at all costs. Black mambas do not live close to human settlements, and they stay away from areas with dense human presence. Even when they do cross paths with humans, this reptile does their best to flee when the scene.

However, when a black mamba feels trapped, cornered, or instigated, it becomes quite aggressive. The snake will strike an aggressor multiple times and inject massive amounts of venom.

Sadly, snake and human interactions happen more often in places where humans tamper with their natural habitat. Despite the high rates of habitat destruction, this species of snakes have stable populations in the different regions where they live, and the IUCN lists the black mamba as Least Concern.


Humans have not been able to domesticate this highly dangerous reptile in any way.

Does the Black Mamba Make a Good Pet?

No matter how much you live exotic pets, always remember this snake is not fit to be a pet. The black mamba snake has very toxic venom that can kill a person with just a single bite. DO NOT consider keeping one of these snakes as a pet.

Black Mamba Care

Research facilities and zoos keep the Black mamba snakes to educate the public and get venom from them. They use the poison collected from these snakes to make antivenom. With antivenom from black mambas, medical professionals can treat people who get bitten, preventing deaths.

The zoos harbor these snakes in spacious enclosures with enough branches and basking areas. The zoo works to educate the public about snakes. Black mambas in Zoos are usually fed with rats and mice.


The behavior of the Black Mamba

Black Mambas are a diurnal species and spend the more substantial part of their days basking in the sun or in search of food. The snakes live in remote areas and deliberately avoid all forms of human contact as much as they can.

When they are not hunting or basking in the sun, these snakes return to the same hiding places. Some of the black mamba’s favorite lairs include hollow logs, termite mounds, or even abandoned buildings or sheds.

Reproduction of the Black Mamba

When it is breeding season for the mambas, the males go into wrestling with one another to get the attention of a female. After mating, the snake eggs gradually develop within the female for 2 or 3 months before she finally lays them.

The female black mamba finds a hollow log or burrow and then abandons the eggs after she lays them.

Clutches of snake eggs generally contain between 6 to 17 eggs. The eggs require between 2 or 3 months to hatch, depending on weather temperature. Once the snake eggs hatch, the young ones will receive no parental care and become fully self-sufficient and independent.

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