East African Green Mamba:Dendroaspis angusticeps
West African Green Mamba:Dendroaspis viridis
The green mamba, which occurs in two very slightly different forms is a relative of the more famous black mamba
: D. polylepis. All these snakes are members of the elapid
family, which contains most of the dangerous venomous snakes. The bite of a green mamba can cause death
, and they should not be disturbed.
Green mambas are covered all over in smooth green scales. It is the only known snake that is green with no other markings. Green mambas are slender, both in the body and the head, and may grow to a length of around two metres. They can squeeze their bodies to fit through tight gaps, and also have stretchy skin to allow for large meals. Like most snakes their jaws can be dislocated, which enables them to swallow prey larger than their heads.
Mambas can be found in most parts of sub-Saharan Africa . Green mambas live in a wide range of habitats, but they prefer to spend the majority of their time in trees. Unlike some snakes, they only prey on creatures that are somewhat smaller than them, such as small birds, frogs or lizards. To reduce the risk of injury from a struggling prey animal, green mambas withdraw after injecting their neurotoxic venom to wait for the prey to die.
Upon encountering a human, green mambas are likely to hiss, and retreat quickly. If harassed they may strike. Large volumes of a milky-white venom may be released when the snake bites. This affects the nervous system, and death is likely to occur if the control of heart rate or breathing is disrupted.
Green mambas are solitary, and come together only to mate. Mating may last many hours, after which the female will lay a clutch of about 10 elongated eggs. When the young hatch they appear to be a blue-green colour, but become the more familiar green over time.