KINGDOM: Animalia (Animals)
PHYLUM: Chordata (Possessing a notochord)
CLASS: Reptilia (Reptiles)
ORDER: Squamata (Scaled reptiles)
FAMILY: Elapidae (Cobras, mambas and relatives)
SUB-FAMILY: Elapinae (Cobras, mambas and relatives)
GENUS: Dendroaspis (Mambas)
SPECIES: Dendroaspis angusticeps (Green Mamba)
Green mambas are native to coastal regions of southern East Africa. They can be found from the Eastern Cape in South Africa through Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Eastern Zimbabwe and Southern Malawi.
The green mamba is a long, slender bodied snake with smooth scales and a narrow, coffin-shaped head. Bright green scales cover a darker skin and are laid like paving stones. The belly of the green mamba is a yellow to light green colour. Green mambas also have short, fixed fangs at the front of their mouths. These snakes are extremely venomous. Case reports of rapidly fatal outcomes, in as little as 30 minutes, have been recorded for this species.
Green mambas prefer coastal areas with dense, shaded vegetation. They can be found living in trees (unlike their cousins, the black mamba) in lowland tropical rainforests, coastal bushlands, dunes, and montane forests.
Green mambas are carnivores (meat eaters). They will eat eggs, birds, frogs, lizards, rodents, squirrels, hyraxes or other small mammals. If they can’t find food in the trees, they may hunt on the ground.
The green mamba is mostly a solitary animal. Green mambas aren’t territorial (although they tend to stay in one area) and as many as five have been reported in the same tree. These mambas are shy and secretive.
Green mambas are polygynandrous (males and females will both have several mates). Males find females by following a scent trail. Males will also compete for females by wrestling or dancing. These combats may last for several hours but don’t include biting, rather one male one tries to force the other down. Females will lay a clutch of 4-17 eggs, which hatch in approximately 10-12 weeks.
Baby green mambas are independent from hatching and are already venomous. Sexual maturity is reached at about 3-4 years of age. They can live up to about 14 years.
The green mamba is preyed on by humans, mongooses, snake eagles, and genets. Hornbills and other snakes tend to prey on juvenile green mambas.
The green mamba is a fairly common species of snake throughout its geographical range, and populations are believed to be stable. Habitat destruction and deforestation may pose a possible threat to this species.
Did you know?
- They are the smallest of the recognized 4 species of mambas
- Green mambas would rather flee when they feel threatened and will only strike if they are cornered
- Green mambas have a very high metabolism
- Snakes can pick up sound and vibrations through their whole bodies
- Snakes sense odours by flicking their tongues and a special organ in their mouth. They also detect odours with their nose