Interesting facts about some of Africa’s most dangerous and most venomous snakes!
- The Black Mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) is Africa’s largest venomous snake, reaching an average 2.5 m in length (8 feet). The biggest ones however, can get as long as 4.5 m (14 feet)!
- It is also the continent’s most feared snake.
- Extremely aggressive, it will not hesitate to strike.
- Fast and agile, it reaches speeds of up to 20 km/h (12 mph).
- Despite its name the “black” mamba is not black, but rather brown/olive or brownish-grey in colour.
- The snake has an “inky black” mouth displayed when threatened.
- It has extremely potent neuro and cardio-toxic venom, capable of killing a dozen men in as little as one hour.
- Without anti-venom, the mortality rate for a black mamba is almost 100%.
- Diet-wise, the animal feeds on creatures such as moles, rats, mice, birds, squirrels and other small mammals.
Mozambique Spitting Cobra
- The Mozambique Spitting Cobra (Naja mossambica) is perhaps the most widespread cobra of tropical and subtropical Africa.
- It is considered as one of the most dangerous African snakes, second only to the Mamba.
- As its name entails, the snake can spit (“spray” is perhaps even more accurate) its cytotoxic venom with great accuracy and reach (jets up to 3 m).
- Its bite can cause severe tissue damage (happens rarely; does not necessarily bite), while venom to the eyes can cause impaired vision or even blindness.
- When needed, it can also elevate to as much as two-thirds of its body length.
- May simulate death to avoid further molestation.
- The Puff Adder (Bitis ariens) is responsible for more fatalities (accounts for +/- 60% of all snake bites) than any other snake in Africa.
- Most common on the African continent and inhabits the majority of regions (except for some deserts and rainforests).
- Since it relies on camouflage to hide itself and lies still when approached, people tend to step on them and get bitten.
- Has very long fangs (12-18 mm).
- Average length is 1 m.
- Moves in a similar fashion to the way caterpillars move.
- When disturbed hisses loudly and forms a tight coil.
- Strikes sideways.
- Can inject between 100 and 350 mg of cytotoxic venom in a single go. The lethal dose for a human is 100 mg of its venom.
- Good swimmer and climber.
- The Gaboon Viper (Bitis gabonica) is the ultimate ambush snake as it perfectly blends in with leaf cover and surrounding vegetation.
- Ambushes its prey (large birds and some mammals) by standing still, and attacks by surprise.
- Very heavy-bodied (weighs up to 10 kg), and can grow to over 2 m in length.
- Large triangular head, develops two nostril horns with age.
- Has the longest fangs of any snake in the world (records at 50 mm).