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Last updated date: 18th Apr 2024
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Mamba Meaning

Mamba snake is the fast-moving venomous snake of the genus Dendroaspis, which literally means "tree asp.” Mambas belong to the family of Elapidae. So far four extant mamba species are recognized, out of which three of those four species are essentially arboreal and green in colour,  besides this, the so-called black mamba with a scientific name of Dendroaspis polylepis, is largely terrestrial and usually brown or grey in colour. 

All the mamba species are native to varied regions in sub-Saharan Africa and everyone is feared throughout their ranges, especially the black mamba. In Africa, there are various legends stories and classifications about mamba snakes

Besides the classification, mambas have a specific behaviour, diet, geographic distribution, and a taxonomy characteristic, which we will discuss on this page along with the types of mambas.

Below is the taxonomic tree of all the types of mambas:

Mamba Taxonomic Tree

Mamba Snake Taxonomic Tree 


Scientific name
















Schlegel, 1848


Dendroaspis angusticeps

Dendroaspis jamesoni

Dendroaspis polylepis

Dendroaspis viridis






Black mamba: 16 km/h

Lower classification

Black Mamba

Eastern green mamba

Western green mamba

Jameson's mamba

Mamba Taxonomy

Dendroaspis word is taken from Ancient Greek déndron signifying "tree", and aspis, which is perceived to signify "shield", yet additionally indicates "cobra" or just "snake", specifically "snake with hood (safeguard)". 

Through Latin aspis, it is the wellspring of the English word "asp". In old writings, aspis or asp frequently alluded to the Egyptian cobra (Naja haje), regarding its safeguard like a hood. The class was first portrayed by the German naturalist Hermann Schlegel in 1848 with Elaps Jameson as the short species. 

It was incorrectly spelt as Dendraspis by Dumeril in 1856, and for the most part uncorrected by the resulting creators. In 1936, Dutch herpetologist Leo Brongersma pointed out the right spelling was Dendroaspis yet added that the name was invalid as Fitzinger had authored Dendraspis in 1843 for the ruler cobra and henceforth had priority.

However, in 1962 German herpetologist Robert Mertens suggested that the 1843 depiction of Dendraspis by Fitzinger be stifled because of its closeness to Dendroaspis, and the turmoil it would cause by its use.

Proof proposes that Dendroaspis, Ophiophagus, Bungarus, and Hemibungarus structure a strong non-coral snake Afro-Asiatic clade.

As of now, out of the perceived mamba species, three are green and the other is the "black mamba", allegedly disregarding by and large brown coloured or a grey-coloured body.

What are Mambas?

The three green species of mamba snakes are arboreal (species living in trees), whereas the black mamba is largely terrestrial (species living on the earth or land). 

In Africa, the black mamba snake is one of the largest and most venomous (poisonous). All four species are active diurnal (used for animals that remain active during the day) hunters, preying on birds, lizards, and small mammals. 

At nightfall some species, especially the terrestrial black mamba, shelter in a lair (It is

a place where a wild animal rests, hides, or sleeps). A mamba snake may retain the same lair (refuge) for years.

Mambas and cobras are in a similar family: the Elapidae. Like cobras, a mamba may rear and frame a hood as a component of its danger show, yet the mamba's hood is smaller and is longer than the more extensive hood of certain types of a cobra, like say, the spectacled cobras of parts of Asia. In their danger show, mambas regularly open their mouths; the dark mamba's mouth is dark inside, which makes the danger more obvious. Regularly likewise, a raising mamba will in general lean well forward, rather than standing erect as a cobra does. 

Stories of black mambas that pursue and attack people are common, yet truth be told the snakes by and large keep away from contact with people. Most evident instances of pursuit likely are instances where witnesses have mistaken the snake's endeavour to retreat its lair when a human turns out to stand out. The dark mamba ordinarily utilizes its speed to escape from dangers, and people really are their primary hunters, instead of prey.

Mamba Venomous Behaviour   

All mambas are profoundly venomous. Untreated dark mamba chomps have a death pace of 100%.

The other mamba species are considerably less perilous: their toxins are less harmful (in light of LD50 contemplates); their demeanours by and large are not as forceful or as sensitive when incited - and they don't infuse as much toxin. Fatalities have gotten a lot more uncommon because of the wide accessibility of neutralizers. 

For the most part, mamba toxins comprise neurotoxins (known as dendrotoxins). Other than the neurotoxins, they likewise convey cardiotoxins and fasciculations. Other parts may incorporate calcicludine, which is a known segment of the eastern green mamba's toxin, and calciseptine, which is a segment of black mamba toxin. 

Poisonousness of individual specimens inside similar species and subspecies can vary greatly based on a few elements, including geological distribution. Indeed, even the climate and height can impact poisonousness (Ernst and Zug et al. 1996). A bite can be lethal to people without admittance to appropriate medical aid and resulting antibody therapy, as it shuts down the lungs and heart functioning.

Mamba Toxins

Mamba poison (or dendrotoxin) comprises a few segments along with various targets. The below examples display the effects of venoms on the human body:

  • Dendrotoxin 1, which represses the K+ channels at the pre and post-synaptic level in the intestinal smooth muscle. It likewise restrains Ca2+- delicate K+ channels from rodent skeletal muscle fused into planar bilayers (Kd = 90 nM in 50 mM KCl).

  • Dendrotoxin 3 - It hinders acetylcholine M4 receptors.

  • Dendrotoxin 7, generally alluded to as muscarinic poison 7 (MT7) hinders acetylcholine M1 receptors.

  • Dendrotoxin K, fundamentally homologous to Kunitz-type proteinase inhibitors with action as a specific blocker of voltage-gated potassium channels.

Types of Mamba Snakes

There are four species of mambas:

  • The species Dendroaspis angusticeps with a common name of eastern green mamba 

  • The species Dendroaspis jamesoni with a common name of Jameson’s mamba. 

  • The species Dendroaspis polylepis with the common name of the black mamba.

  • The species Dendroaspis viridis with a common name of the western green mamba.

Now, let’s discuss these species one by one:

Eastern Green Mamba

The eastern green mamba is huge, with a somewhat compacted, and thin-bodied snake with a medium to decently long tightening tail. 

Adult males average around 1.8 meters (5.9 ft) in total length, while females normally 2.0 meters (6.6 ft) in all-out length. Correlation in this species is radiant green dorsally and yellow-green ventrally, with a couple of dazzling yellow scales dissipated on the flanks in certain specimens. This species is native to more coastal regions of southern Africa and East Africa.

Jameson’s Mamba

Jameson's mamba is a huge, thin elapid snake with smooth scales and a long tightening tail which commonly represents 20 to 25% of its all-out length. The normal length of an adult snake is around 1.5 meters (4.9 ft) to 2.2 meters (7.2 ft). 

They develop as extensive as 2.64 meters (8 ft 8 in). Adults, in general, are dull green across the back, mixing to light green towards the underside with scales commonly edged with black. The ventral side, neck, and throat are normally cream or yellowish in shading. This species happens generally in Central Africa and West Africa, and certain pieces of East Africa.

Black Mamba

The black mamba is the longest type of venomous snake native to the African mainland; mature specimens, for the most part, surpass 2 meters (6.6 ft) and ordinarily accomplish 3 meters (9.8 ft). So far, specimens of 4.3 to 4.5 meters (14.1 to 14.8 ft) have been discovered. Despite their regular name, dark mambas are not really dark. They can be olive, black, brownish, or khaki in colour. This species has a wide and divided reach inside sub-Saharan Africa.

Western Green Mamba

The western green mamba is a long and thin-bodied snake with a long tightening tail. The normal length of an adult snake of this species is between 1.4 meters (4.6 ft) and 2.1 meters (6.9 ft). 

A few examples of this species can develop to the greatest lengths of 2.4 meters (7.9 ft). Western green mambas can be variable in colour. Most examples are greenish-yellow, olive green, emerald green, while a few examples are sky blue or yellow. This species is local to West Africa.

Now, let’s discuss the geographical distribution of the species mentioned above:

Mamba Distribution




Common Name

Geographical Distribution

Dendroaspis angusticeps

(Smith, 1849)

Not Any

Eastern green mamba

  • Kenya 

  • Tanzania

  • Malawi

  • Mozambique

  • Zimbabwe

  • Swaziland

  • Eastern South Africa

Dendroaspis jamesoniT

(Traill, 1843)


Jameson's mamba

  • Central Africa in South Sudan

  • Gabon

  • Angola

  • Zambia

  • Republic of the Congo

  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo

  • Cameroon

  • Equatorial Guinea

  • Nigeria

  • Kenya 

  • Uganda

  • Rwanda 

  • Burundi

  • Tanzania

  • The central African Republic 

  • Benin 

  • Togo 

  • Ghana

Dendroaspis viridis

(Hallowell, 1844)

Not Any

Western green mamba

  • Western Africa in southern Senegal

  • The Gambia

  • Guinea-Bissau

  • Guinea

  • Sierra Leone

  • Liberia

  • Côte d’Ivoire

  • Ghana

  • Togo

  • Benin

  • Southwest Nigeria

Dendroaspis polylepis

Günther, 1864

Not Any

Black mamba

  • Central Africa

  • Eastern Africa 

  • Southern Africa

  • Cameroon 

  • The Northern Republic of the Congo

  • Central African

  • Republic northeast Democratic

  • Republic of the Congo and southwestern Sudan to Ethiopia

  • Eritrea

  • Djibouti

  • Somali

  • Kenya

  • Eastern Uganda

  • Rwanda

  • Burundi

  • Tanzania

  • Northeast  via Angola to the southeastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo

  • Southwards to Mozambique

  • Swaziland 

  • Malawi

  • Zambia

  • Zimbabwe

  • Lesotho Botswana to KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa

  • Namibia

Green Mamba vs Black Mamba

Here, we will differentiate between the green mamba and the black mamba in terms of the following points:

  • Appearance and size

  • Venom

Appearance and Size

There are two types of green mamba; the eastern green mamba and the western green mamba. The eastern green mamba is a radiant green venomous snake that is regularly mistaken for the innocuous green snake of the variety Philothamnus. Their western cousins have a yellowish-green to the green dorsal surface, with yellow scale edges and tails. Green mambas are the littlest of the 4 types of mambas, with grown-ups going from 6 to 7 feet long. Despite the fact that they may infrequently achieve 8 feet with an extremely thin body with a long tightening tail. They have a level-sided head that is regularly viewed as a casket formed. 

Their partner, the dark mamba, is Africa's longest venomous snake, coming up to 14 feet long. Nonetheless, their normal size is 8.2 feet. Very much like the green mambas, dark mambas get their names from their skin shading which goes from olive to dim beat up with a blue-dark shade within their mouth, holding onto teeth of up to 6.5 mm (0.26 inches) long.


The eastern green mamba is the most normally experienced individual from the green mamba species and has the most non-harmful toxin. In any case, the westerners are fairly 'standoffish' and don't frequently encounter people. 

In any case, the green mamba's toxin, 60-95mg by dry weight per bite, is neurotoxic and causes growing, unsteadiness, and corruption, prevailing by trouble in breathing and gulping, to a sporadic heartbeat and seizures. It can kill a human in a short time being the quickest acting snake toxin. This toxin contains overwhelmingly three-finger poison specialists and a little phospholipase A2 content. 

Interestingly, the dark mamba toxin is the most elevated in harmfulness and varies from a wide range of various mambas. Their chomps moderately contain 100-120mg of toxin and don't by and large reason expanding or passing of body tissue, however, are gone before by a shivering sensation in the space of the bite. 

This snake bites over and over, delivering prey and making numerous stabbings thus the quick circulation of their toxin. Different side effects incorporate lessened vision, fasciculations, loss of awareness, and respiratory loss of motion in under 30 minutes after infusion. Without proper antidote treatment, its bite can kill a human within 3 hours or more.

Interesting Facts About Mambas

  • Mambas live in savannas, forests, and rocky hills.

  • These species have a lifespan of 12 to 20 years in the wild.

  • Mambas murder their prey with toxins infused from teeth. Their toxin murders prey rapidly. Mambas can easily gulp down the dead animals. 

  • All mambas are profoundly venomous. Their toxins comprise most of the neurotoxins that cause loss of motion and stop indispensable body capacities. Other than the neurotoxins, they additionally convey cardiotoxins and fasciculations. 

  • The dark mamba is quite possibly the most perilous snake on the planet. It is equipped for conveying sufficient toxins to kill a person within 20 minutes. 

  • The western green mamba, eastern green mamba, and Jameson's mamba [photo below] have toxins comparable in size and impact to that of the dark mamba's. Be that as it may, as their toxins are less poisonous, and as none of the three infuses as much toxin as the dark mamba, their chomps are less yet at the same time risky. 

  • Mambas can move quickly. They can move up to a speed of 20 km/h (12.5 mph). 

  • Mambas snakes tend to stay alone, except during mating season. 

  • Males discover females by following a fragrance trail. 

  • Males will contend by doing custom dance or having wrestling challenges on the ground. The point is to constrain the other male down. It can take as long as a few hours for this custom to end.

FAQs on Mamba

1. Where Do Green and Black Mambas Lay Their Eggs?

Ans: Green mambas can lay 10 to 15 eggs all at once, and the mother mamba needs a protected spot to house her infants. Rather than feeling defenseless in a ground refuge, she settles among leaves and other vegetation in an opening in an empty tree. The eggs incubate for 70 to 85 days. The child snakes bring forth in the tree. They have toxins when they incubate, which implies they can start chasing promptly in their picked arboreal natural surroundings without requiring time on the ground first. 

The female black mamba lays a grip of up to 17 eggs, regularly inside a termite hill, and the eggs bring forth following 80 to 90 days. In certain examinations, young black mambas have seldom been noticed, perhaps on the grounds that they develop quickly and can arrive at very nearly 2 meters (6.5 feet) long in their first year, and in light of the fact that they are probably going to be more arboreal than the adults.

2. How Do Green Mambas Kill Their Prey?

Ans: Green mambas essentially go after birds and their eggs, and little mammals like bats. They can likewise eat up arboreal reptiles. While chasing, they cover with the green leaves, and utilize a sit and sit tight for a system for exceptionally portable prey like grown-up birds or rodents. Despite the fact that they have effectively pursued dozing bats. Green mambas have been known to attack the homes of youthful birds and as they develop, so does the size of their prey. 

3. Why are Black Mambas So Deadly?

Ans: Black mambas chase from a permanent den, where they will routinely return if there's no disturbance. They go after little mammals like rodents, bats, bush babies, and hyraxes, just as birds, especially little birds. They chomp their prey to infuse the toxin and deliver it, keeping a nearby distance till when it gets deadened and prepared to eat. They gulp down as they have adaptable jaws that can disjoin to fit food up to multiple times the size of their heads into their mouth. 

In contrast with other snake species, these snakes have an elevated capacity to burn calories and would take care of more than two times per week.

4. Do Mambas Make Noise?

Ans: Practically all snake sounds are made in guarded connections. In spite of the fact that keeping silent and covering up is their principal guard, they snarl, hiss, rub scales, yell, clatter, or cause rough commotions when they feel compromised. Regularly than not, such commotions are prevailing by an attack. The second you hear the hisses, the most ideal alternative is to ease off. Their hisses may appear to be something similar, however, research shows that they vary between species. The green mambas let out an empty hiss while their partners, the dark mambas, let out a noisy hiss before by raising their body with cobra-like neck folds and menacingly showing their dark mouths.