Africa is one of the most legend filled countries in the World, and many of the myths and legends center around the wildlife around them. The black mamba is a perfect example of these myths in action. While the black mamba is certainly a fearsome, lethal, and scary snake, it is not the miracle snake that many of the myths propose. These myths have left a number of facts skewed, and a number of people mystified as to the true facts about the black mamba. This article is to help clear up just what is true, and what is unfounded fear.
Myth – The black mamba hunts humans – This is completely false and rather silly when one considers the workings of the black mamba. The mamba kills and eats prey items that they can swallow. That said, a human being is not on the menu. The only other reason a mamba attacks is in defense of a perceived threat. The mamba does not want to waste it’s venom on a human that it can not eat.
This myth got its beginnings from the fact that a mamba has been known to get trapped in a home. When this happens, it feels cornered and will then attack. Entire families have been known to be wiped out in this situation as the snake felt threatened. That said, if you provide the mamba a means of escape, it will gladly take it.
Myth – The black mamba’s bite means you are dead no matter what – This is also untrue but it has truthful origins. There was a time when a black mamba bite meant virtually certain death. These days, there is an antivenin that can save a large number of snake bite victims of the mamba. This depends largely on availability, and access to the medicine. There are also times that a mamba will deliver a “dry” bite. This is when the snake bites but does not inject venom. The black mamba rarely bites in this manner, however.
Myth – The black mamba is faster than a human being – In an enclosed space, this might be true. The images that are out there, however, of a snake running you down and catching you is rather silly. Mambas are very fast, however, and can certainly move faster than other snakes. In short distances, the black mamba is faster than some humans. Thing is, it will likely be running away and not after you.
Myth – The black mamba will drop on you from the trees. This is a very interesting myth, though it is entirely untrue. The black mamba really does not like to elevate into the trees anyway. The green mamba, a cousin of the black mamba, spends most of it’s time in trees. The black mamba likes staying on the ground for the most part, though it will occasionally climb to chase prey. The black mamba is certainly capable of climbing well, but it is not likely to fall down upon an unsuspecting human. This is just untrue.
While there are a number of things about the black mamba that are untrue, the truth about the snake is just as scary. The venom that this snake delivers is powerful indeed, and the snake is not hesitant to deliver it if you get in the way. The myths are just that, however, and giving the black mamba a very wide berth will generally keep you safe.