Monday, December 12, 2011

Western Green Mamba Vs Black Mamba

Western Green Mamba-Dendroaspis Viridis

This medium-sized snake is bright green in colour, normally with some dark markings on the back. It has an orange tail. The head is coffinshaped and the inside of the mouth is white. This is an active snake that is usually seen in trees and bushes where it preys almost exclusively on small mammals and birds. It is extremely difficult to see amongst the foliage and unfortunately has a bad, but un-deserved reputation because of the aggressiveness of its relative, the Black Mamba (a species so far unrecorded in The Gambia). Western Green Mambas will only bite as a last resort and there have been very few records of bites on humans. The bite can however occasionally cause death. It is unknown how widespread or common Green Mambas are in The Gambia because they are often confused with bush snakes. However, they are fairly common in Abuko Nature Reserve.

The Western Green Mamba is the biggest arboreal mamba species. The average length is 140 –  210 cm but somew specimens will grow to 300 cm.  The Westrn Green Mamba body is long and slender the head is small and is clearly distinct from the neck. The eye is medium sized with a round pupil. The iris is yellow-brown in color The length of the tail is about 20-25% of the total length. Western Green Mambas can be variable in color most specimens are greenish-yellow, olive green, emerald green, while some specimens are sky blue or yellow. The scales over the body have black edging. The tail is yellow with black edging around the scales which gives it a sort of netting. The dorsal scales of this species are very big for a elapid. The skin between the scales is also black and visible. The ventrals are pale green, yellow or blueish grey. 

Geographic range:
The Western Green Mamba occurs in West Africa as his name already says. Some isolated records are known more east from Ghana , Togo , Nigeria .

Western Green Mambas are diurnal and arboreal snakes that live in the rainforests of Western Africa . Places were the forest is gonew can they be found in the thickets of  bushes in city suburbs and parks.

Captive Behaviour:  
Western Green Mambas are alert snakes that need to be kept in a large enclosure. Most of the day are they resting on a branch or are climbing around in their enclosure they can be kept in groups without any problem. In handling are Western Green Mambas similar to the Jameson’s Mamba. They don’t like it to be touched and when tailed they can get very jumpy and wild. When cornered they flatten down their necks and opening their mouths a little while rapidly tongue flicking and loud hissing, striking is rare.

In the wild do green mambas feed mainly on small rodents, birds and bats and squirrels are known to been eaten.  In captivity do they feed easily on rodents and chicks. I feed my westerns every week with dead mice, rats or chicks out of a long tweezer. They never strike at the food but take it slowly from the jaws of the tweezer.

Also Western Green Mambas know the male/male combat which can last for hours. The mating happens on the ground as in the branches with the tails hanging down. Mating can take 10-16 hours. After a gestation period of 87-90 days after the eggs are laid. The clutch size is from 6-14 eggs. The eggs hatch after 90-104 days. The babies are at birth 40-45 cm long. I  once had a clutch of 9 eggs from a fresh caught female 7 of the eggs hatched in my dry incubator on a temperature of 280 C and a humidity level of 80% the babies
had their first shed after 9-11 days.

As for all mambas are the Westerns also active snakes that need a big enclosure filled with branches and artificial plants. My Western Green Mambas are kept in a enclosure that measures a size of 150 cm in length 70 cm high and 50 cm wide. As substrate I used a mixture of cocopeat, peat, potting soil and bark. When the animals start to shed I providfe them with sphagnum that keeps the humidity in the enclosure high. Heating is done by heating cable under the enclosure and a 60 watt spotlight on the right site of the cage. Extra light is given by a 120 cm long neon tube. There is a 5 litre water bowel in the cage that is often used for a bath and as drinking water. The snakes also have a hide box but rarely use this.  


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