Black Mamba.. Two steps to death..

I recently, (Mothers Day actually) attended a show where they had a short demo on snakes. The Black mamba was one shown to all interested parties. The brave handler said that the snake is known in some circles as the “two step to death” snake. It is thought to be so deadly that you take two steps after being bitten and you die. Although this is untrue, his advice.. after being bitten don’t take the two steps… I did enjoy that one.

The Black Mamba is a dangerous snake, but lets be honest, the stories of it being aggressive and chasing you are probably not all that true. Sure.. in the Steelpoort area I walked into one and it promptly raised its head and looked directly at me… I stood still as is recommended. It made a move towards me and I turned and ran. I was later told I should have looked back and I would have seen it wasn’t chasing me, but rather making an escape.. my answer… “I run faster looking forward rather than back” and anyway who wants to run into a tree because you’re looking the wrong way… think I’m an idiot…

The Black Mamba however is deadly if you do not receive medical attention fairly quickly.. there is a reported death (in a medical report) having occurred within twenty minutes to someone being bitten on the upper arm.. But most recorded deaths are between 3 and 8 hours after the fact… still not good news…

This is a fast moving snake, one of the fastest in the world (12 KPH or 7 MPH) luckily at this age I can still run faster than that… it is considered one of the most efficient killing machines on no feet… it delivers a neurotoxin, also called Dendrotoxin, but basically it disturbs the neuro messages and hearts, lungs and everything driven by neurological messages in the body are disturbed and you die. Unless you have an aggressive induction of anti-venom…

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The inside of the mouth is a deadly black, so don’t get near enough to see this unless you have a 3 inch glass pane between you and it…. and don’t let it talk quietly to you as this one seems to be doing…

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It is a beautiful snake as snake beauty goes, but it is known here as “the kiss of death” and to one expert as “death incarnate” … to me it is known as the one snake to avoid if possible and if not, then run like the clappers…

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“Want to touch it??”

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And a bit from Wikipedia

Its bite can deliver about 100–120 mg of venom on average and the maximum dose recorded is 400 mg.

If bitten, common symptoms for which to watch are rapid onset of dizziness, coughing or difficulty breathing, and erratic heartbeat. In extreme cases, when the victim has received a large amount of venom, death can result within an hour from respiratory or cardiac arrest. Also, the black mamba’s venom has been known to cause paralysis. Death is due to suffocation resulting from paralysis of the respiratory muscles.

The black mamba is regarded as one of the most dangerous and feared snakes in Africa due to various factors. Nevertheless, attacks on humans by black mambas are rare, as the snakes usually avoid confrontation with humans and their occurrence in highly-populated areas is not very common compared with some other species.

 

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77 thoughts on “Black Mamba.. Two steps to death..

  1. What a great story telling. Thanks. I met a black mamba once here in the DRC. I was on a Chinese made, balloon tired bike that weighed about 50 kilos it seemed. It was on a dirt road at night and I had one of those little generator lights that let you see what you are about to hit and into the cone of light came a 2 meter mamba. Too late to stop I kept going and swear I felt something strike my right boot. I darn near ran into the back of a truck about 10 kilometers later while doing close to a 100…

  2. I have never heard of this particular snake, although that isn’t saying too much. I only know a very few! But given how deadly its bite, I’m surprised to see the handler quite comfortable, and in front of children. I think that ever since Steve Irwin was killed by the Stingray I have had an uneasiness when watching someone with all the ” right credentials” handles dangerous animals–or in this case reptiles. You just never know what could happen. But I am confident that teaching children about these creatures is necessary. Thanks for introducing me to the Black Mamba. I do think it’s beautiful!

    • Thanks Debra… yes I agree to an extent having followed the life of Steve on the TV, I was of the opinion that he tended to push the envelope way and beyond the norm and always seemed to get away with it… his handling of our snakes when in Africa I would have called anything but responsible. Yet he survived without receiving a bite… our handlers or experts have been bitten on occasions, and these are the ones considered to be the best, but like all things one becomes over confident on occasions or complacent with our lot and it is then that the snake gets to remind you of the need for your fullest attention.
      There is a need for education on the snakes or reptiles that try to live a parallel life with us in this world… too many are killed on sight when they have such an important role to play in our ecology… and the only way to stop this slaughter of anything that slithers and has no legs is education.. I thank the Lord for those that are knowledgeable enough and willing to impart their expertise for free to save the circle of life where the snake is an integral part..
      The mamba, as scary as it is, is of such a nature that it could be considered a perfect reptile needing no improvements. A creation, perfect in all its parts, placed on earth for a purpose, hindered by man because of what it is perceived as… hell if it was like a lion, shot for the sake of being a trophy, the world would accept its impending possible extinction, but this poor thing is killed and dumped…

  3. I think snakes are highly intelligent; they only bite people if they feel their life is threatened and, they only use enough venom to repel the person. Of course the fact that they can and do eat humans is another matter: humans eat animals so one can’t really complain when other creatures eat humans, be cautious, of course, but complain… it would be rather duplicitous.

    • Snakes have the ability to scare you off… when you don’t take the hint you will receive a bite that could mean the end of your life, specially from the mambas and puff adders… but normally they just want to get away and if they have to use scare tactics they do most times successfully…

  4. Considering what you shared about the snake – I feel that seeing it in photos from the comfort of my home is close enough for me. 😉

  5. I am really glad none of my kids are into snakes. They have friends that are; I do not think I could handle it. Great shots–but, I like your birds and safer animals better. 🙂

    • Thanks Skye… I can assure you I would not go looking for this fellow to photograph anywhere else… this show I didn’t even know about, but used the opportunity to capture a picture or two… my friendship with snakes is to capture them if they are in the wrong place and go and put them in the right place… but when it comes to the mamba, it is a test of how fast I can still run, and running not being my sought out sport any more, I don’t want to find this guy…

  6. I’m usually ultra careful of any snake, Rob, but one day (when I was angry about something probably totally insignificant now) I was ripping metal sheeting from the side of the shed and a small, fat snake popped out so I kicked it with my boot and it went flying. When I told hubby he said the snake was a Death Adder and I should have just run away (LOL) – silly me! Just a kilometer from the RUC the largest Taipan in the world was found (according to the Guinness Book of Records). These snakes are another venomous species and my father-in-law tells me they will actually chase you across a paddock and bite like a rabid dog! YIKES!

    • Hi Dianne, yes you have more deadly snakes there than I would want to meet… yet I researched the other day to try and find out how many deaths occur per year… it seems our Puff Adder leads the field and is accredited with more kills than any other snake, but that is because it is well spread below the equator in all of Africa… tends to just lie still and allow you to almost stand on it before it bites with terrible fangs and horrible poison that is not the deadliest around… But Africa being what it is, with more rural living, miles from hospitals or for that matter anti venom, it can be expected…
      Aussie land is a little more sensible about snakes, (except you that kicks one of the deadliest, hope Hubby kicked your bum as a reminder), also I think Aussie are aware that you have more deadly snakes than the rest of the world and act accordingly… heard a story of kids that came walking into their kraal carrying a boomslang they’d found, not one of them bitten, and it is one of our deadliest… but there is a lack of education and most snakes are seen as having to be killed not avoided, a big mistake…

    • I’m surprised you have not met up with one of these in Natal that enjoys a good population… I read about the Ballito handler, another handler was bitten in a similar manner in Hoedspruit, transporting a snake for research in a bag next to him in his van, it struck through the bag when close enough to his hip. Being close to the army hospital at Hoedspruit he went directly there, .. they knowing the area and its mambas, were prepared for such bites and kept him alive on life support systems till the venom was out of his system… lucky break for him… he still lives with one of these roaming free in his house, calls it his burglar proofing on his house, has a sign on his gate “Beware of mamba” has trouble getting anyone to cut his grass…

  7. I just couldn’t bear to be near that thing. Still, I really enjoyed reading all about this Black Mamba which I always knew as one of the deadliest snakes, so I found this really interesting. My daughter has a corn snake (which, as you well know, is harmless) but still, I can’t bear to touch it. I’m just not into snakes and would be terrified of being bitten. I remember when we lived in California (if you remember the photos from my last ‘neighbour from hell’ post) the kids’ uncle was always telling us to be careful about finding rattlers by the woodpile. We never did thank God but we did find a few Black Widow spiders. Maybe I should have thrown then next door, haha! 🙂

  8. One of the blessings of living in the UK is there is only one poisonous snake here, which in my many travels in nature I have yet to encounter. If I am bitten by the Adder, it is often not enough to be fatal. Running away from a snake is a great strategy used by many species of animal 🙂

    • I know the adder is poisonous, but I think like ours, is more likely to give you a “dry bite” this is well known for most adders, certainly not the puff adder though…

    • I’m sure they are like ours, just want to avoid you… but then you have the rattler don’t you? I’m sure the rattle is a warning device so that you don’t stand on him… wish our puff adders had that… I have two posts coming up on the snakes from that day…

  9. Ha! Last night, when I saw your post was about mamba’s I decided to wait until morning to read it, certain that if I read it when I first saw it, I would have nightmares of being bitten by a snake. Glad I waited…glad we don’t have them here…glad you ran, too! I don’t mind snakes but I’ve learned to respect/avoid those creatures that are designed to inflict great bodily harm. 😉

    • Thanks Mrs P. most of them will do their very best to escape from you and that I respect.. all that is except the Puff Adder which I cover in two days time… the rest I respect and either capture them and move them to somewhere safer.. or give them room to move off on their own… mambas I prefer to run from, and some Puff Adders get killed for trying to frighten me.. but not all of them.. those puffies that let me know they are there, I’ll move to somewhere else where they can keep down the rat population…

  10. Surprisingly he looks quite harmless in the keeper’s hands, and not all that big – but I would prefer never to meet one face to face.

    • This is a youngish one approx 1,2 m long (4 ft.) They get up to 4.3 m (14 ft.) I have seen one estimated to be at that length, I did not stand around to measure it or ask it who its mother or father was, I high tailed it out of there… however the average length is 2.5 m (8 – 9 ft.)
      The quickest recorded death is of one average length that managed to bite the person on the upper arm and it was not in a tree, tells you something about their abilities, he lasted 20 minutes… it has also been recorded that in a strike some victims have been hit more than once, yet the snake appeared to only strike once… A slowed down film of a strike on a possible prey showed that it actually struck the prey 3 times injecting poison each time… suffice it to say that before the anti venom was available the mortality rate was 100%… there is a story that one cornered in a hut killed 9 people but left the baby alone.. not sure I can believe that but… there are many myths about this snake, but I can assure you, the one it can out run a person, is not true… so if you come across a black mamba do what I do….. RUN !!!!!!!!!
      Playing golf once, you’ll enjoy this story, I ended in the rough and taking a practice swing found something was spitting at my crotch… it took 2 to 3 times before I spotted the Mozambique spitting cobra, which will spit at anything that moves. It was getting a flash off my iron shaft and spitting at it…
      I have since gone over to graphite shafts not so shiny…

  11. I always enjoy seeing these professional snake handlers and the shows Rob. Most fascinating. Great shots of a great beauty and very informative as well. You also gave me an early morning laugh with the running away part. 😆

    • That running away was through jessie bush as well… never got a scratch on me… I think I was going too fast for the thorns to even get a hold …
      I love to watch the pros with their shows, so much info and normally so much humour to go with it… I will handle anything except the mamba, that one I leave up to them… Remember pulling a natal green grass snake by the tail out of the rafters of the workshop, every one screaming at me that it was a boomslang that I should rather kill it… when I had it out it happily curled around my arm and never even attempted a bite (harmless) sent it on its way to do the good that they do…

      • LOL! Sounds like the bush had a bigger fright than you Rob. I would fly without wing, I tell you. hahahaha

        Same here and I wish they weren’t so expensive here. I would go every time there is a show. 😀

        I totally agree. I love handling the ones that doesn’t bite. 🙂

        You did a great job there indeed. I think it was just as happy as you were. They do a lot of good indeed. 😀

    • Fortunately most snakes do their best to get out of your way, after all you are not a meal to them, but it is the cornering of a snake that can turn a docile one into a dangerous enemy… I’m ok to handle them all except the mamba, I’ll get out of its way and call the experts…

    • You don’t have any.?? Want some ?? Actually I knew that and have often wondered why, considering your proximity to Aussie land one would think you’d have a few of those deadly specimens they have…

  12. An interesting but SCARY read for me Bulldog. I am the complete opposite of your followers who are fascinated by snakes. I cannot believe parents allow their youngsters within close range of venomous snakes, some allowing them to stroke them at snake parks/the zoo etc No thanks I never wish to do the TWO STEP tango with any snake, let alone the black mamba! hope you are fully recovered now BTW. 🙂

    • Thanks Zita… out of protection of the species I will capture and release any snake except the mamba.. I see the need for them and am half fascinated with them, but not to the extent that they are welcome any where near me…
      I’m getting back to full health, just the lungs I’m struggling with… but the Dr did say their recovery could take 4 to 5 months… get out of breath far too often for my liking, but then I’m impatient…

    • I suppose the educational side of things is what the snake man is after… but did you notice I was not there?… luckily I have a good zoom… and can run fast…

  13. Fascinating, but please keep it on your side of the world. Australia supposedly has 9 of the 10 most venomous snakes – we don’t want the 10th.

    • I want to know who goes around saying “Hmmm this one is more deadly than that one” when they all can kill you… one can’t be more dead than dead… so we will here declare a pact between Aussie land and Africa… you keep yours and we’ll keep ours… hows that for an international agreement.?..

    • Have a friend that was bitten, who due to a good hospital made it through, he is a snake collector and walks about with one of these around his neck… says it will never bite him as he’s had it since young… who trusts a snake? Not I…

    • I have encountered a few in the wild and normally all I see is them going like the clappers to get away from me… all except the once when one decided to give me a fright… but when you see them moving away from you the speed is so deceiving .. it looks as though they are going so much faster than what they are…

    • I believe that the poison glands can be removed, but not done very often as the snakes are rather milked for the venom to be able to make the anti-venom… this one wasn’t as these guys are like the “ghost busters” if you have a snake in your house you phone them and they come and rescue it and release it into the wild… too many are killed when cornered, when all they want to do is get away from you…

        • They are pretty good with handling snakes… and are quite knowledgeable on how these things can kill you, I suppose that’s so they know what to do when bitten…
          Me I will avoid this one for sure, the others I’ll capture and move to a safer place… had them visit us when I was younger, Dad would capture it and release it… if he wasn’t around, I dispatched it to snake heaven…

  14. I actually like snakes. But I also like living so I would keep a healthy distance between me and the Black Mamba which incidentally sounds like a sexy south American dance… 😀
    Diana xo

    • I will work with any other snake except this one… if you’re going to work with a certain death I leave it to others,,, this one is just too fast for my liking… and I sure don’t want to take the two step with it… rather do the “two step mamba” with some sexy South American beauty…

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