Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fear the slithering death

A warning to anyone who is afraid of snakes: This blog post is about the Black Mamba. There are pictures and a video of it here, but I started with the tame looking picture of a snake crossing sign. That way, you won't see the scary stuff yet. I'm mentioning this, because I know if you have this fear, you won't even want to look at a snake. So, if that's the case, just stop reading now. :)

I watched a really interesting documentary tonight. It was about a woman who lives in Swaziland and helps move Black Mamba snakes out of homes, schools, fields, or basically anywhere else people need to be. This is terrifying work, because the bite of Black Mamba is lethal. If you do not get your hands on some anti-venom within 15 minutes of being attacked, your chance of dying is 100%. This snake's venom is the second most deadly after the King Cobra's. Black Mambas have their name because their mouths are entirely black inside. This snake might look cute and smiley in a picture, but I wouldn't want to be near it in real life.

Something amazing about this snake is the eerie way it moves. All snakes move in a creepy, slithery way, but there's something different about a Black Mamba. It is the only snake with the strength to lift 1/3 of its body off the ground as it moves. Since the Black Mamba can grow to 14 ft, this snake could lift its body up and (depending on your height) literally look you in the eye.

It took me a while to find just the right Black Mamba video to share. Between people being afraid to capture the footage or possibly dying in the process of filming, there aren't many videos out there. I did finally find a great video made by National Geographic. You'll learn everything you need to know about Black Mambas here:

This snake is very patient and self controlled. It stalks its prey and ambushes it. The Black Mamba could be slithering below you in the grass, above you in a tree, or even in a desk drawer. Seriously, one of these had to be pulled from a child's school desk in the documentary I watched.

Even if you didn't have a fear of snakes when you began reading this, you might be fearing the Black Mamba by now! You don't need to be too fearful if you aren't in Africa, though. That's the only place you'll find these snakes in the wild.

There are some things that everyone needs to fear, though. I've been reading a book titled The Gift of Fear: and Other Survival Instincts That Protect us From Violence by Gavin de Becker. The running themes of the book are trusting your instincts, using your common sense, and having some patience. I was reminded of the book as I wrote this post, because the people mentioned in it have tendencies similar to the snakes I described. The cover of the book states "This book could save your life" and I believe in some situations, it could. Anyway, I'd regret not passing this info along!


  1. Jeez, I tried to be brave... I loathe snakes! I only made it to 1.55 on the video - I couldn't bear to see whether that rotten snake got the squirrel. (Go Team Mammals!) Snakes (shudder) are true horror!

  2. Living in the mountain deserts in So Cal....where I worked we had rattle snake, can coyote. wolf and bobcat kidding.

    Came in handy a few times....


  3. Poor mummy squirrel having to watch her helpless babies get eaten! I suppose that's nature for you!

    Right now I'm not scared because I'm no where near Africa but that's just given me one more reason never to visit the country next to all the spiders and scorpions and other creepy things haha!!

    The only time I have come into contact with snakes is once when I was about 8 or 9 years old - me and my brother had a Python draped around our shoulders at the circus for pictures. The second time was about a month ago when I held a red and black one at the local village fair - I think it might have been a corn snake.

    Snakes aren't really common at all in the UK. We only have 3 snakes to speak of and two of them have no venom and are not that big compared to some with the Grass Snake only reaching about 5ft.

    Our only venomous snake is the Adder but even then it very very very rarely attacks humans and even if that does happen it's bite isn't very lethal as it only injects a tiny bit or venom so not many people have died from an Adder bite.

    We also have slow worms which I have played with many times as a child whilst playing in my mum back garden because they are so small they seem more like a worm!

    If you really want to freak me out then do a spider post! I hear the Brown Recluse of America has a very very nasty bite! Some of the pictures I've seen are disgusting!

    I find the Camel spider particularly creepy!! xxx

  4. I watched that program last night on Nature. I kept thinking that someday, we're going to be reading about her, or her hubby's death due to snake bite. That one that they captured bit into the bag, and the venom came shooting out! No way would I be walking through that tall sugarcane, looking for that snake, and was relieved when they left!

    Thankfully, I live in Michigan, where the only snake that can inflict a poisonous, but not lethal bite is the reclusive Massasauga Rattlesnake. And the U.P. has absolutely no snakes at all! Another perk to being a northern girl! lol

  5. Living here in Arkansas, we've had several encounters with snakes. But nothing as deadly as the Black Mamba. Wish I had seen the show of which you speak...will see if I can find it on the web somewhere.

  6. Eeeeeeeeek! I have the itchies now after seeing this!


  7. I am not a fan of snakes. We have to watch where we walk out here in the desert because of the rattlers.

  8. It was fun reading all these comments and learning which states you guys live in!

    Little Gothic Horrors ~ Haha "the rotten snake" Yeah, I'm afraid the squirrel is no more. I laughed so hard when I saw that you came back and commented "Oh God!! It ate the babies??!!!" :) In the snake's defense, the squirrel is its natural source of food. If the snake was killing baby squirrels out of spite or had other food options, then it would be more of a jerk.

    Yes, this snake is pure horror. No movie monster can stand up to one of these things. I can't imagine how paranoid the people are who have to live by these snakes. Black Mambas are so fast, you have no idea where one is hiding, and are so very deadly.

    The Frog Queen ~ It sounds like you have some stories! So you came up against some rattlesnakes? Just their sound is scary. Did you see any bobcats up close? I have a relative in AZ who sends me pictures of the critters who come up to his house. I've seen bobcats, rattlesnakes, and lots of big hawks in his pictures. He sets out food and water for cats and ends up with some unexpected guests.

    VainGlorySinner ~ I'm loving your new photo! Very pretty. Yes, that is nature. At least the makers of the video spared us from seeing the squirrels get eaten. There was just that nice touch of the foot coming out of the snake's mouth...I've seen some nature programs that are so graphic.

    Spiders and scorpions - fun stuff! I feel the same way about visiting South America. I'm not interested in visiting a place where the creepy critters are larger than average!

    Did you freak out when the python was draped around you? That sounds like a Britney Spears video! :) I think I've seen pictures of those little corn snakes and they're pretty cute. I'm not bothered by snakes in general - just the ones that want to kill me! I remember when I was a kid, I was visiting my grandmother in Colorado. She had a deep fear of snakes. Anyway, we were in her swimming pool and this lime green little snake slithered on up to the pool and swam on in! We quickly swam on out. :)

    I just googled slow worms to find out what they are. They're like miniature snakes! Wow, kind of cute and creepy at the same time.

    It's funny that you mention the spider post, because there is a blog entry coming about the local insects and spiders in WI. I've been busy taking photos of all the creepy crawlies I see. I got up close and personal with some of them and used the macro lens. It was sort of a project to see the details on the insects we try to avoid. I learned some amazing things about bugs while doing this. Hopefully that post won't traumatize too many people. :)

    The camel spider! Yes, that's a nasty one. I'm glad that I don't have to worry about those.

  9. Suzie ~ Cool! What did you think of the program? I know what you mean. It's very likely that the woman and her husband could die. Did you see when the snake's fangs actually went through the bag they put it in? She's taking an enormous risk by doing this. It's such a selfless act to save these people as well as the snakes. As I watched her, I wondered if I would be able to do this. I mean if I really had to. The people from the village looked so terrified that she would be bitten. I was relieved every time she got out of one of those places alive!

    Yes, there are perks to being a northern girl. :) I'm not aware of any killer snakes in Wisconsin either. So I guess we're both safe!

    Jeanne ~ What kind of snakes have you got in Arkansas? Here's the program, so you won't have to search it out:

    It was on the Nature show. I never watch that, but was glad to have tuned in last night! Blog inspiration can come from so many places.

    LuLu ~ Haha! Yeah, I know what you mean. I sometimes get influenced by stuff like this and feel like I have something crawling on my arm!

    Adsila ~ I know what you're talking about! I said this to The Frog Queen just now, but I have a relative in AZ. He sent me a picture of a rattlesnake that was directly outside his glass sliding doors, looking in at his cat! The cat was luckily inside that day. The cat looked equally interested. They were more or less face-to-face.

  10. WOW! I'm not in any way afraid of snakes but they did get that much closer to being on the list of fear. The way it can lift its body up is what really pushes it over the edge! I couldn't watch the movie for too long either, not because it freaked me out, but because I am a total animal lover, and though it is part of nature, I just can't watch any kind of baby animal being eaten. Good thing I read the comments first. It's so weird how I can watch the nastiest goriest horror films but a friggin' nature film freaks me right the hell out haha.

  11. Halloween Man ~ Haha, yeah this snake deserves to be on the fear list, especially if you live in Africa! I totally agree that the snake lifting its body is the freakiest part. When I saw it do that on the TV show I was watching, I actually yelled something out loud. :) Like "AHH!" I can't imagine the fear I would feel if I saw one of them do this in person.

    You bring up a really interesting point. Some horror movies are really rough (and I know there are a few horror fans here) but the video seems to have been bothersome to people. Nicely, the gory squirrel eating scene was edited out. This is kind of bad of me, but the first thing I thought when I saw that was "better the squirrel than me!"

    If you were all freaked out by the implied squirrel scene, you should have seen the snake love scene in the original program I watched! Actually, it was pretty similar to the snake fight scene. I mean, snakes can only do so much!

  12. I like snakes in theory and kind of would like to get one but then again... they are quite creepy animals. Black Mamba sounds all around wicked. Nature truly has some amazing & scary creatures in it.

  13. You had me at in 15 minutes you'll be dead.

  14. Mrs Munster ~ Well, don't get yourself a Black Mamba. :) Sometimes I find snakes pretty, and other times they horrify me. I agree - Nature is filled with both the amazing and the scary! It's funny that people try to dream up new monsters when creatures like this naturally exist.

    Copyboy ~ Haha, Yeah this snake cuts right to the chase. :)

  15. Wow! What a passionate woman for snakes! I agree with you, that sometimes snakes are pretty but...from a far for me.

  16. Oh yeah i am not fearfull of snakes i mean when i was a child and my dad wud take me to the fair i wud take loads of pics with huge snakes around my neck BUT that being said that dsnt mean that if i saw a black mamba in the distance i wud run..hell i wud run so fast i wud probably break Usaine Bolts record.

    Actually about two years ago i went on a holiday trip with my parents went on a safari gaming trip and one day i had spent most of the day at the pool and when i got back to the lodge to my parents room, i took one step in the room my dad as calm as ever said "stop! dnt move and dnt look dwn!" of course being the curious me i did look dwn and slithering right between my legs was a small red dune snake. My dad grabbed it walked outside and gave it to a park ranger. I swear even though it really wasnt tht big in my eyes my dad luked like friggin Indiana Jones taking on a black mamba lol

    The shock that i almost stepped on a snake hit me like 20 minutes later and then i jst started shaking uncontrollably, yes i was such a big wuss and my mom being the drama queen she is went complaining bt seriously thinking back the thing was abt the size of an earthworm lol

    Great post by the way and awesome freakisshly scary video, i will admit i turned away from my screen a couple of times..

  17. Real Queen of Horror ~ Yes, her passion was amazing! I could see some real fear on her face (and even more fear from her husband, who was dragged along on these snake hunts) It's so admirable that she does something she's clearly afraid to do, for the benefit of others! I really hope these snakes continue being nice to her.

    Yeah, the closest I want to get to a Black Mamba is looking at one on TV. :) They are strangely cute and smiley, though.

    Pixie ~ OK, So I just had to google Usain Bolt. It's a little embarrassing that I had to do that since I'm into The Olympics. Although, I'm usually watching The Winter Olympics, so that may be why I wasn't familiar with him. I've been reading about him and I'm so impressed. Get this:

    From his record time of 9.58 s for the 100 m sprint Usain Bolt's average ground speed equates to: 37.58 km/h or 23.35 mph

    A Black Mamba can move at a speed of up to 12 mph. So he could actually outrun one of those snakes by nearly double speed! I don't know how fast I can run, but I think I'd find out if I saw a Black Mamba. :) That's what is so unbelievable about the woman on TV actually seeking these out. Most of us would be going in the other direction!

    I got a laugh out of your safari story. :) I bet that was scary for all of you! I tried to find a picture of a red dune snake online, and all I found were pictures of sand dunes, and a red lizard. Oh well...

    Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. :) It's always fun to share new creepy information when I run across it!

  18. I got chased by a water moccasin (cottonmouth) literally for a mile while canoeing the Wekiva River with my friend Jakob. It's no surprise though because everyone knows that cottonmouths will chase you relentlessly for up to 3miles! We first saw the snake swimming the opposite direction from us and thought nothing of it, like 20 minutes or so later my friend Jakob points across the river and yells "look out!" and I see the snake charging towards the canoe right at me! When it got to the canoe it jumped out of the water and bit the top edge of the canoe and I was for sure it was going to get in but I pushed the snake under the surface of the water with my paddle and it never came back up. If I was in a kayak, or a smaller canoe I would have been bit and probably dead for sure. My buddy Jake saved my life that day! hehe

  19. Mmm beautiful snakes. This post made me happy. :) *Gives you the secret snake hand shake*

  20. L ~ So, I just googled "Cottonmouth Snakes in the water" and watched some videos of them racing through the water. I also saw some photos of the snakes with their mouths open in the middle of an attack. Your story was scary enough before I looked these things up, but now it is completely terrifying! That is not a small snake! One of these can chase you for three miles?! You are so lucky to have unloaded that thing! I wonder why it would want to bite your boat? I just googled "Cottonmouth bite" and I really wish I hadn't done that. Let me stress again - you are very VERY lucky! But it sounds like you know that. I can imagine that you have a lot more creepy critters in Florida than we do up here!

    Kweeny Todd ~ Sounds like you're a snake fan! Are you also a snake owner? Hehe "the secret snake hand shake" I'd like to see how that goes!

  21. I love snakes, but even I know some snakes should be feared. In the South, we have several venomous snakes but cotton mouths scare me the most because they are so aggressive.

  22. Jessica ~ Hello and thanks for following my blog! :) Yeah, I didn't know much about cottonmouths until I read the story above and googled them. After watching videos of the snakes swimming and attacking, I realized what a threat they are! I don't understand why they're so aggressive. From what I've read online, it seems they go out of their way to attack.

  23. Scary post! I love your blog and am now following you on GFC. I currently have a Halloween related giveaway running on my blog that might interest you.

  24. Hey Vanessa! I'm so glad to hear that you're enjoying my blog. You bet I'm interested in your Halloween giveaway! You couldn't keep me from entering that. :)

  25. Oh I wanna own a snake badly. It will take me some time before I can get one, but I will some day, oh yes I will!

  26. Really? Do you know the kind of snake you want? I don't think it would be too hard to find one in a pet shop. I'm not sure if they're expensive, though...