Any of four or five species of slender, agile elapid snakes (genus Dendroaspis, or Dendraspis) having large scales and long front teeth. They inhabit sub-Saharan Africa, where they hunt small animals. The aggressive black mamba (D. polylepis), up to 14 ft (4.2 m) long, may be dull gray, greenish brown, or black, depending on age. It dens in rocky open country. It rears up to strike, biting a person's head or trunk. Its bite is nearly always fatal without antivenin treatment. The green mamba (e.g., D. angusticeps) is smaller (to 9 ft, or 2.7 m), more strongly arboreal, and less aggressive.
East African green mamba (Dendroaspis angusticeps).—E.S. Ross
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