Mamba, West African Green


Dendroaspis viridis  


Green mambas have lime green bodies and yellow tails with the majority of scales creating a fishnet effect. They are about 78 inches long with a slender build.

Family

Elapidae

Order

Squamata

Class

Reptilia

Range

Most of East Africa from Kenya to Zimbabwe

Habitat

Coastal and forest regions

Life Expectancy

A wild caught adult individual survived 18 years and 8 months in captivity.

Sexual Maturity

At least by 18 months

Diet

In the wild, they feed mostly on birds and lizards. In the Zoo, they are fed rats and mice.

Status

IUCN - Least Concern

Behaviors

Non-territorial. Mambas rely on abandoned termite mounds and animal holes for shelter. Other areas include sparse brush and rocky areas. Usually diurnal, green mambas become somewhat nocturnal in areas where populations are large. Enemies are larger animals and humans. Green mambas will usually flee, but if cornered or trapped, will hiss and/or strike out to defend themselves. The green mamba injects whitish venom when it strikes prey. This venom affects the victim’s nervous system; it mostly affects the heart rate and respiration. Green mambas have a habit of falling onto arboreal prey from higher branches, sometimes dropping to the ground with their catch. The green mamba travels throughout its life alone. The mamba differs from other snakes in that after striking its prey it leaves it to die. Digestion of a kill requires eight to ten hours. Mating occurs in spring after the male finds a female from her scent trail. Copulation can be drawn out to over a couple hours or days. After copulation, the female will lay 10-15 eggs. The eggs are long and thin and range from 1.5 to 2.3 inches long and 1 to 1.4 inches in diameter.

Adaptions

The green in the mamba’s body is used to help hide it in the trees. The mamba’s jaw is adapted for feeding. With elastic skin and a loosely attached lower jaw, it can swallow prey up to four times the size of its head. Smell is detected by using the tongue, which is also sensitive to vibrations. Vibrations may also be detected from the surfaces through the mamba’s body. When confronted by predators, mambas prefer to flee, but will strike when threatened.

Special Interests

If a bird flies too close, the green mamba catches the bird in less than a second. When a predator comes near, the green mamba darts away at the extraordinary rate of 7 miles per hour, twice the speed of any North American snake.

Folklore

The snake is associated in many countries with the Devil and dark forces. In the Bible, it was the Devil in serpent form who tempted Eve to take the Forbidden Fruit.

Conservation

Jacksonville Zoo History

The West African green mamba has been in our collection since January 1998.

Exhibit

Seronera Reptile House