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Black Mamba. By: Min Ji Kim Molly Dawson. There are many beautiful Snakes as these. But we chose Black Mamba. How We Got Interested. Min Ji:

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by min ji kim molly dawson

Black Mamba

By: Min Ji Kim

Molly Dawson


There are many beautiful

Snakes as these

But we chose

Black Mamba

how we got interested
How We Got Interested

Min Ji:

  • I first got interested in snakes when I read the Little Prince. In the Little Prince, the Boa Constrictor kills somebody by wrapping itself around the body and squeezing the person to death. I was fascinated by snakes after reading that and also after watching the movie “Anaconda”. First I intended to research about boa constrictor, however, I changed my mind and I found some information about most venomous and deadliest snakes in the world, Inland Taipan and Black Mamba. However, those snakes are ugly so I decided to do an attractive snake instead of powerful snakes. I chose to do Blue Malayan Coral Snake, but, it is not a common snake so it was hard to find information about that snake. Finally, I just decided to do Black Mamba with Molly and I found lots of information about the snake. I didn’t know anything about the snake, but reading about the snake got me interested. I am very fascinated by this snake and I am very happy to do a project about it.
how we got interested1
How We Got Interested


I was interested in snakes because I like to learn about the things around me, and God’s creation. Min Ji and I were both so interested in snakes and so we decided to do a partnership for this project. At first we didn’t know where to begin there were so many snakes so many different interesting creatures. The first snake that caught our eyes was the Blue Malayan Coral Snake. It’s brilliant colour was mesmerizing, but unfortunately we could not find very much research so the Blue Malayan Coral Snake wasn’t an option for our project. Min Ji and I started to look for different snakes and even though The Black Mamba didn’t have mesmerizing colors it was exactly what we were looking for in a snake. The Black Mamba has strength, speed and is one of the most venomous snakes in the world next to the Inland Taipan. The Black Mamba has so many amazing features and hopefully everyone can all learn some of them from our presentation.

what we did
What We Did

First, we found a lot of general information on the Black Mamba on internet sites. For example, where the Black Mamba lives, what they eat, etc.

Second, we borrowed four books about snakes in the Clearbrook Library.

Third, we found that the internet sites weren’t to our expectations, so we dug deeper and found a Black Mamba expert, TheaLitschka – Koen.

Fourth, we called Thea and she answered us and she also sent us an email with extra information.

thea litschka koen
TheaLitschka - Koen
  • Thea lives in Swaziland in Southern Africa
  • She found herself doing a lot of fascinating research and ultimately enrolling in handling and identification courses.
  • Thea began responding to emergency calls from locals, removing and rescuing snakes they found.
  • She founded a reptile park where some of her rescued snakes could be released and where people could learn more about snakes, as well as how to handle some of them safely.
  • She was also featured in a documentary called NATURE’S Black Mamba.
  • Thea was very helpful and she answered all of our questions as best of her abilities.
  • Tel: +268 313 4758
  • Fax: +268 383 8894
  • Thank You Thea!
black mamba shadow of death imamba indigenous name dendroaspis polylepis scientific name
Black Mamba (Shadow of Death)Imamba (Indigenous name) Dendroaspispolylepis  (scientific name)
  •    A long slender snake that on average, reaches 2.0 - 2.8 m with larger individuals reaching 3.0m. Maximum 4.3 meters.
  •   The colour is never pitch black although it can become very dark, almost black, just before shedding. The normal colour is a light to dark grey, light black or various shades of brown or olive.
  •   The underside is light grey / white in colour, and can be plain or sometimes heavily mottled towards the tail.
  •   The inside of the mouth is inky coloured black. They are called “Black Mamba” because of their colour inside their mouth.
  •   The scales are smooth and velvety.
  • Fixed front fangs
  • The Black Mamba is wrongly accused of being an aggressive violent snake, but the Black Mamba will only “attack” if it feels threatened or cornered.
  • Black Mamba is quite shy.
  • Black mambas use their incredible speed to escape threats, not to hunt prey.
  • Black Mamba lives for 11 years or more.
  • They live in the warmer, lower-lying regions in Africa and Pondoland in the Eastern Cape, Swaziland, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Northern Gauteng, and the Northern Cape. Further north into Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe and into East Africa.
  • Preferred habitat: termite mounds, hollow tree trunks, deserted bear and porcupine burrows, rock crevices, granite hillocks, sugarcane fields or anywhere there is an abundance of food.

Good Morning


  • Black Mamba hunts rodents, squirrels and other suitably sized mammals, flying birds and other snakes. They prefer to consume warm blooded prey.
  •  Bats and small chickens as well.



catching prey
Catching Prey
  • Every morning they come out of their home at about 7-8am. They will lie in the sun and bask until they are nice and warm before setting off to hunt.
  • They use their sense of smell to hunt down prey. They sneak up on their target and then strike! The strike is very fast, much faster than you can actually see. They do not hang onto their prey but strike and move away. They do this because a struggling prey can hurt them with their teeth or claws. The prey item will move away but the mamba will soon follow. As the prey item starts to die, it will urinate, leaving a trail for the snake to follow. The mamba can also detect its own “venom smell” in the prey’s urine. It only takes a few minutes for the prey to die. The mamba will find it without any problem.
  • At about 3 p.m. the mamba will move back to its home. It will once again lie in the sun (warmth helps to digest food) before it slithers into its home for the night.


Big Mouth!

black mamba strike
Black Mamba Strike
  • Mambas do not “attack” but bite defensively. If you disturb a Mamba and it feels threatened, it will bite. If the snake feels cornered or if it is hurt, it will bite out of self defense. Around 5.5 million people are bitten by snakes each year, resulting in some 400,000 amputations and between 20,000 and 125,000 deaths. Death statistics for every different species of snake is not available as the symptoms are very similar. But many die from Black mamba bites throughout Africa.
  • Mambas are very, very dangerous and can kill a small child in minutes. Adults usually die within a few hours.

If you are close enough to kill a snake,

it is most certainly close enough to kill you!

black mamba s defense
Black Mamba’s Defense
  • If cornered, it flicks its jaws open to reveal this bold colour as a warning to keep your distance. To make sure the threat is understood, the snake lifts its head well off the ground, flattens its neck and gives a hollow sounding hiss. It is extremely frightening. If you still do not understand the warning and move closer, it will bite quickly, often two times.
  • However, Black Mamba won’t attack unless it is hurt or threatened.
  • If you came across a black mamba and just left it alone, you would be fine. If you accidently stepped on it, unfortunately it would bite – this does not make it aggressive, the Black Mamba simply uses the bite as a way to defend itself.
  • Black mambas will do their best to get away as quickly as possible, slithering towards the nearest hollow tree, termite mound, burrow or dark corner.
  • They become aggressive only when there is no escape route.

Nice Fangs!


  • A mamba has enough venom to kill 14 – 20 adults. Just two tiny drops are enough to kill a person.
  • The venom is very potent and is a powerful Neurotoxin which causes paralysis of all the muscles, including the lungs. The victims start to lose control of all of their muscles. Arms and legs become lame, eyes can’t open, finally the lungs become paralyzed and the victims die of suffocation – very much like drowning but with no water!
  • Stages After The Bite
  • A feeling of “pins-and-needles” at the location of the bite which spreads and is later also felt around the lips.
  • Minimal to mild swelling at the location of the bite.
  • Pain is usually minimal. Pain is often away from the location of the bite like abdominal pain or muscle pain.
  • Paralysis of muscles that control the eyelids.
  • Paralysis of the neck muscles causing the head to hang.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Abdominal pain and excessive urination and feces.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty in swallowing.
  • Throat constriction and pain when trying to swallow.
  • Increased salivation.
  • Increased sweating.
  • Abnormal excitement
  • Broken neck syndrom
  • Altered mental state causing hallucinations and confusion.
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Decreased heartbeat - due to lack of oxygen in the blood
  • Muscle tremors and shaking are typical of Mamba bites.    
  • Limbs hang limp, victim is conscious but cannot respond.
  • Chest tightness and pain - feels like a rock is placed on the chest.
  • Respiratory distress or weakness (shallow breathing).
  • Paralysis of the lungs.
  • Not able to control urine and feces.
  • Quiet period with a fixed stare before coma sets in.
  • Death.


black mamba scare
Black Mamba Scare
  • Very often farmers will come across a lot of dead cows. This is because the cows got spooked in the barn, they start running around which scares the mamba so it starts biting anything that comes close. Most animals have a natural instinct and are afraid of snakes.
mambas contribute to ecosystem
Mambas Contribute to Ecosystem
  • Snakes are the best “pest controllers”. Without them, the world would be overrun by rodents. This will cause famine as the rodents will eat all the crops. Rodents also cause disease. Remember the Black Plague from Social Studies that killed millions of people. This was caused by too many diseased stricken rats!
  • Many other animals also survive by eating snakes. Without snakes, they will starve.

“I Contribute to the Ecosystem”

mambas can become endangered
Mambas Can Become Endangered!
  • It is estimated that in 20 years time, 40% of all snakes will be dead due to global warming and too much carbon in the atmosphere. The carbon is preventing the snakes from evolving so they can’t adapt to the changing climates. It is also estimated that within 20 years, 20% of all species will be extinct.
  • Across the world, reptiles are becoming rarer and a number of species are certainly almost endangered, while not posing any danger to anyone. Habitat destruction, climate change, and scarcity of food have led to the extinction of many populations of these amazing creatures.

Oh No!

  • Mating takes place during October and November.
  • They lay 6 – 17 eggs in summer, young Mambas measure 40 – 60 cm when they hatch. Young Mambas have the exact characteristics of their parents. They are deadly just like their parents.

Sunny Side Up



  • Mambas do not hold on and chew their prey, they deliver a quick bite and release immediately.
  • This snake is shy, nervous, alert and tries to avoid contact with humans.
  • They often share their homes with other species including Mozambique spitting cobra’s and pythons.
  • The estimated maximum speed of a mamba is probably 15 to 20 km/h over a short distance.
  • Baby Mambas can reach a length of almost 2m within the first year.
  • They will live undisturbed in the same hollow log or termite mound for up to 8 years.
  • They sleep but their eyes remain open so it’s difficult to see when they are doing so! They do not have eyelids so can’t blink or close their eyes.
interesting facts
Interesting Facts
  • Black mamba is widely considered the world’s deadliest snake.
  • They are Africa’s longest venomous snake.
  • They are also among the fastest snakes in the world.
  • The black mamba is the largest venomous snake in Africa and the second largest snake in the world, after the King Cobra. 
  • Snake venom is being used to save lives! It is used to treat cancer patients, people who are in a lot of pain, people who have bleeding or clotting problems etc.
a word from thea litchka koen
A Word From TheaLitchka-Koen
  • Although mambas are one of the most deadly snakes in the world, they do not deserve the bad reputation they have.  The “Jaws” of the snake world is rather an elegant, intelligent and inquisitive. Yes, it can kill you in a matter of minutes but very often these bites occur because people are trying to kill the snake themselves. Imagine if you got hurt by a much bigger animal, would you just smile and look the other way or would you fight back? It is imperative to teach people to call someone qualified to remove a problematic snake rather than attempt to kill it.