A golfer in South Africa stopped in the middle of a game to film two black mamba snakes entwined in a fierce battle over a female on the green.
The rivals writhe around each other with amazing speed, each aiming to pin the other to the ground in a process known as “plaiting combat,” while the videographer wisely remains a good distance away.
The black mamba is known as the world’s deadliest snake.
They live in the savannas and hills of southern and eastern Africa, and they are some of the fastest snakes in the world, moving at speeds of up to 12.5 miles (20 kilometers) per hour. They use their speed to escape threats, not to hunt prey, and they can grow up to 14 feet (4.3 meters) long. This fighting pair was filmed at Leopard Creek Golf Course in Malelane, South Africa.
Despite their name, black mambas are actually shades of olive to gray in color. Their mouths, which they open wide when threatened, are blue-black on the inside, however, and may have helped give them their names.
The snakes have been blamed for many human deaths and are infamous in African mythology, which contributes to their dangerous reputation. They are shy and will try to escape when confronted, but if cornered they will become aggressive, raising their heads, spreading their cobra-like neck-flap, and letting out a hiss.
If an attacker does not back down, the black mamba will strike it over and over, injecting a plethora of potent neurotoxins each time. The bite is usually lethal, unless antivenom can be given in time.
The black mamba’s numbers aren’t in decline yet, but as humans encroach further on their territory, there is concern that bites from startled or cornered snakes will increase. And that could be especially bad news in many of the rural places where the snakes live, because antivenom isn’t widely available there. Without antivenom, a bite from a black mamba snake is usually lethal.