After the king cobra, the black mamba is the longest venomous snake in the world. It is also the fastest-moving snake in the world, reaching up to 23km/h.

Breeding

This takes place in spring and early summer. Males may travel long distances looking for females. After mating, the snakes return to their own holes. Females lay between 10 and 25 eggs, usually in decaying vegetation. The decomposition of the vegetation gives off heat, which helps to warm the eggs and speed up hatching time. The shells of the eggs allow water and oxygen to reach the developing embryos.

Black mamba hatchlings are around 51cm long, and greyish-green in colour. They are independent immediately and can catch prey the size of a small rat. Within a year they reach 2m. Young mambas are eaten by mongooses, and even adult mambas are eaten by the secretary bird and larger species of eagle.

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