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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Black Mamba Snake Venom: Kiss of Death Breath of Life

Properties that make the black mamba snake venom deadly are also what make it so valuable for medicine. The black mamba’s venom, painkilling proteins mambalgins and potent neuro-toxins and cardio-toxins are a paradox of life and death.


The black mamba is sub-Sahara’s Africa deadliest snake growing up to 13 feet in length, traveling at speeds of up to 12 mph and two drops of venom can kill a person, a mamba can have up to 20 drops in its fangs. Black mambas come in many colors, from beige to brown, gray body with a light colored belly. Their name is derived from the color of their mouths rather than their skin. The snakes open their mouths when threatened and inside their mouth is a pitch black color.
Black mamba name is derived from the color of their mouths rather than their skin.


Highly venomous and feared throughout the world, black mambas are famed for being the fastest and most dangerous snakes in sub-Sahara Africa. The black mamba potent venom contains both neurotoxins and cardiotoxins; the first affects the nervous system, while the latter attacks the heart. Its preferred habitat includes termite mounds, hollow tree trunks, granite hillocks and moist savannah and lowland forests. The female lies between 10 to 25 eggs and never returns to the hatchlings.

The black mamba bite symptoms include swelling and pain with a burning sensation, slurred speech, tunnel and blurred vision, drowsiness, mental confusion, and finally paralysis of all muscle groups including the heart by blocking messages between nerves and muscle. Ironically, the black mamba also has painkilling proteins called mambalgins and these painkilling compounds are as potent as morphine. Venom from snakes has long been used for medicinal purposes.  


Highly venomous and feared throughout Africa black mamba snakes
The properties that make the black mamba venom deadly are also what make it so valuable for medicine. Its venom toxins target the same molecules that need to be controlled to treat certain diseases. According to Time.com and BBC.com it’s a challenge to find the toxin that hits only a certain target, but already top medicines for heart disease and diabetes have been derived from venom. 

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