Don't Mess With the Black Mamba, One of the Deadliest Snakes Alive

Black mamba
The black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) may look all sweet and cuddly (just kidding), but its venom can kill a human being in about 20 minutes. Wikimedia Commons (CC0 1.0)

“Coffin-shaped.” That’s how writers tend to describe the head of Africa’s black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis). It’s a deliciously ominous label. After all, we’re talking about one of the most feared serpents in the Eastern Hemisphere. Armed with potent venom, this creature can kill a human being in under 20 minutes.

The reptile is also renowned for its size. Of all the venomous snakes alive today, only the king cobra grows longer. Mature black mambas have an average length of around 7 to 9 feet (2 to 3 meters). However, exceptionally big ones — measuring just under 14 feet (over 4 meters) long in some cases — have also been documented.

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