One the scariest moments in Shankar’s days in the grasslands of East Africa was his night-time encounter with the black mamba.
According to Wikipedia, its name is derived from the black colouration inside the mouth rather than the actual colour of the skin which varies from dull yellowish-green to a gun-metal grey. It is the fastest snake in the world, capable of moving at 4.32 to 5.4 metres per second (16–20 km/h, 10–12 mph).
This is a really really dangerous creature. How danger can be appreciated when you read this post by Wade Nolan.
“On a recent safari to Africa, I hand-caught a wild nine-foot Black Mamba. It was a calculated risk…involving bad calculation.
The Mamba’s head is coffin-shaped and the inside of his mouth is an ominous black…he would raise up to near eye level, look aggressively at us then loose his balance… and tip over…only to raise up again..hissing. I thought that maybe he had gotten hold of a bad mouse and was woozy.
I made a hasty and misguided decision to lay hands on the most poisonous snake in the world. Most mamba bites are fatal. This aggressive cobra has a nasty habit of biting it’s victims 4 and 5 times in the face and neck.
The third time he raised up and tipped, I pinned his head, and without a lot of thinking…(I bet that surprises you), I had a very angry Black Mamba in my hand.
From the roof of his gaping open mouth I could see the curved extended fangs. Dripping from those fangs was the deadliest venom in the reptile kingdom… mamba venom is yellow. The slippery venom ran out of the corner of his mouth and into my hand…”
There’s a pretty hairy video of this episode here.
And here’s a vid of a black mamba hunting a mouse. A friend said that this is the first time she felt sympathy for a mouse.