The Truth about the Green Mamba: What You Need to Know

The eastern green mamba is extremely dangerous. All wildlife and venomous snakes need to be respected, and you should be extra cautious around areas where this species commonly resides, like game parks, national parks, conservation areas, and anywhere near a river or body of water.

The eastern green mamba is a protected species and cannot be harmed with a bare hand. You should not try to handle a green mamba if you see one, and if bitten by one, it is very important to immediately seek emergency medical care.

Learn More About Snakes

Sure, snakes can be creepy, but when you know a thing or two about them, you understand why you don’t want them in your home.

The Green Mamba

Dendroaspis angusticeps has a rounded head with a blunt snout, triangular/roundish nostrils and a high ridge on the lower jaw.

In this section we will be examining the eastern green mamba from the head and jaw perspective, using some excellent photographs of mamba, including one of one which had been cleaned by one of the authors.

The nape (towards the tail) of the neck is green. The iris is dark grey with a brown pupil. The eyes are large and bulging. The upper lip is either flat or convex.

The gulars are white or sometimes tinged with pink, and there is a well-developed chin-shield (cloacal mucous membrane) which is dark brown or black on the outside, and white on the inside.

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What is the green mamba?

This western African species is distinguished from all other mambas by having one or more yellow-green color bands running along the posterior portion of its body, particularly on its neck and upper part of its belly.

The length of the eastern green mamba averages between 20 and 25 feet (6 to 7 m), although larger specimens have been recorded.

The average weight of mature females averages between 14 and 16 lbs (6.8 and 8.1 kg), and young males tend to weigh slightly more than mature females. This species usually has a pointed head, whereas many other mambas have a triangular-shaped head.

Most eastern green mambas are brown or olive green in color, but some have grayish or yellowish-green upperparts and yellow or orange underparts. A few have reddish-purple underparts.

Where does it live?

When green mambas are threatened they make a series of grunting sounds. This helps them to camouflage their body against their surroundings, allowing them to become invisible to any potential predators.

Green mambas are mostly found in coastal areas from Tanzania in the north, southwards to Mozambique.

Many of these areas are remote with limited infrastructure, such as water and shelter. If there are no such resources available, the snakes will often bury themselves in the sand or vegetation, looking almost as if they are dead.

These snakes are generally tolerant of a wide range of temperatures and only use their venom when they feel threatened.

How dangerous is it?

The eastern green mamba is the second most deadly snake species in the world, with a bite reportedly capable of inducing cardiac arrest and causing respiratory failure.

It is the most venomous land snake on earth, and the second most toxic land animal (after the cobra), with more than 5000 neurotoxic potentials per square millimetre.

Toxin from the snake’s venom works by blocking the excitation of certain types of receptors in cells, causing a lack of function which leads to the serious organ damage caused by the snake’s bite.

These toxins, which are secreted by a venom gland, are lethal to small mammals like rodents, and mice, although the species’s other native prey animals have been shown to have a natural immunity to its venom.

What should you do if you see a green mamba?

Keep your distance

Never try to catch or kill the snake yourself. It is a nocturnal animal and will try to escape, so call a professional. If bitten, immediately seek medical attention. The bite of a green mamba can cause envenomation within 10 minutes.

Depending on the extent of the poisoning, it may prove fatal. If a second bite occurs, your chances of survival may be considerably lower. If you already have the snake in your bag or backpack, immediately follow these guidelines:

Remove any wrapped coils from the bag or backpack and leave the snake as a dismembered mess behind (go to Medgreen for advice on the safest removal of the snake).

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Do not attempt to catch the snake yourself.

What are the symptoms of a green mamba bite?

The bite of the eastern green mamba is extremely painful, and one of the few reported cases of a survivor said the venom caused “excruciating pain.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, increased heart rate, sweating, and dizziness.

However, the CDC cautions that if someone has the previous symptoms of envenomation, they may not always have the full-blown symptoms.

“You may have an improvement in symptoms for up to 24 to 48 hours, before presenting to a healthcare professional,” says Petit, who is a clinical instructor in the Emory University School of Medicine.

Symptoms may not occur right away, Petit says, but they often occur within an hour or two of the bite.

First Aid for Snake Bite

There is no antidote for bites by the eastern green mamba, but treatment is indicated to limit the risk of envenomation and serious injury.

Symptoms usually appear 30 to 90 minutes after the snake has bitten. The main symptoms are swelling around the bite site, pain, and low blood pressure.

Numbness may develop from the site, and within one to five hours, symptoms may escalate into life-threatening shock.

The bite has been described as much worse than being hit by lightning.

Blood loss from the bite causes paralysis of the legs, which causes loss of circulation to the extremities and cause tissue death. If the snake continues to drink, swelling can be even more severe and may result in multi-organ failure.

Nomophobia vs.

Who should you call in an emergency?

The bite of a eastern green mamba is moderately venomous, with 25–40 micrograms of venom given by the fang in the animal.

Individuals of both genders have one fang, although only the male possesses the second larger fang and a shield-like structure at the base of the first, which is larger than in the female.

In the UK, a bite from an eastern green mamba would be likely to lead to symptoms typical of a mild, but potentially life-threatening, snake bite: local pain, local swelling, local erythema and vomiting.

The pain may be described as needle-like, like being pricked with a needle, or burning and crawling around the body. Swelling and erythema may also start soon after.

Urgent treatment involves intravenous hydration, monitoring and supportive care.

How can you avoid getting bitten by a green mamba?

This is by far one of the most popular questions we get asked at the snake clinic. After all, most of the snake bite victims we see at the clinic are reportedly experienced snake handlers who ignored all the warning signs.

So, let’s take a look at the facts:

The Eastern Green Mamba is a venomous snake. They are capable of delivering a toxic bite. According to the World Health Organization, bites from this snake are incredibly painful and could lead to severe damage to internal organs, heart, blood, and nerves, with most people passing out on the spot and subsequently suffer from unconsciousness.

Experts advise that if you are bitten by a snake, stay calm. Stay still and apply pressure.

Conclusion

The Green Mamba is one of the most dangerous snakes in the world. It is one of the only snakes that will attack out of the blue, with an ability to rear up and deliver a massive bite.

In fact, the venom from the Green Mamba can kill within 24 hours, meaning that a bite requires immediate medical attention, just to be saved from death.

The eastern green mamba is a snake of considerable size, often reaching lengths of over two metres. Their appearance is similar to that of the Black Mamba, with many distinguishing characteristics.

However, the name Eastern Green Mamba is misleading, as the Central African form (Dendroaspis angusticeps occidentalis) can be found further south.

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