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Mamba, West African Green

West African Green Mamba at the LA Zoo Photo Credit Tad Motoyama

Scientific Name: Dendroaspis viridis

This reptile is a very alert and fast-moving snake.

These dangerous and alluring creatures are part of the Elapidae family, which includes cobras, kraits, coral snakes, death adders, and allies. Green Mambas are primarily solitary creatures, and out of the four species of Mambas, they are one of three that are arboreal.

They are diurnal (active during the day) hunters. Most reptiles are diurnal because they rely on the Sun’s heat to provide energy for hunting and other activities.

A Poisonous Promise

The venom of the West African Green Mamba is regarded as some of the most deadly snake venom in the world. The venom of the West African Green Mamba is a neurotoxin, and, if not immediately treated, can be fatal. Short, stationary and hollow fangs in the front of their mouths deliver the venom.

In the article, The Most Dangerous Snake In The World, published in the 1969 December issue of ZooView the author, William R Turner, assistant curator of reptiles at the time, writes, “The snakes in our collection with a “Four Star” rating are the green mamba…”

These four stars are  “High Venom Potency (red star), large quantity of venom (blue star) irritability or proneness to strike when approached (green star) and widespread distribution or contact with man (Yellow star).”

The West African Green Mamba has not been categorized yet by the IUCN

Green Mamba’s make their homes in the Western region of Africa, as their name suggests. They primarily live in coastal and forested areas, such as Guinea, Liberia, Senegal, Ghana, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and the Ivory Coast. As an arboreal creature, they spend much of their time in the trees, and will nest in the abandoned burrows of other animals.  

Primarily dining on birds, lizards, and mammals up to 4 times their size, they hunt in the trees and on the ground.

The West African Green Mamba is a lime green color with a yellowish tail to help it stay camouflaged. This snake is sometimes described as having a fishnet pattern to their scales. They are a long, slender species that grow up to 78 inches in length. 

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