Black Mamba Snake Kills & Swallows Mouse

Mar 2 2016

On 10 January, latish Sunday afternoon, Nelene Prinsloo and her family were about to depart the Letaba Rest Camp, Kruger National Park. When, her husband became aware of movement at a nearby palm tree. “What’s that?”, he questioned. Hurriedly, they scurried closer! And it is then that her daughter Corne realised that the scene which was about to unfold, and which is also the recent video clip featured in the Latest Sightings (Real time game viewing app which can be downloaded here iPhone/iPad & AndroidFilm & Earn Partnership Program, was something rare. She grabbed her Panasonic HDC-SD80 and began filming. 
Living in Phalaborwa, the family understandably frequent the Kruger Park, and Letaba Rest Camp (river of sand), situated on the Letaba River. And this sandy riverbed serves as a superb backdrop for incredible game viewing. But that particular day the family had no idea just what was in store for them...
Nelene says, 'We moved even closer, and on investigation this black mamba had struck several moments before; the mouse going into a state of immediate paralysis!' Not surprising, considering the toxocity level of the mamba on such a small animal. The venom of a black mamba contains both neurotoxins which attacks the nervous system, and cardio toxins which attack the heart. 
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“The mouse was still alive with slight twitches! Regardless, the mamba proceeded to swallow the mouse! Whole!”, exclaims Nelene. Snakes use their quadrate bone and cranial kinesis (the term for significant movement of skull bones relative to each other in addition to movement at the joint between the upper and lower jaw) to swallow their prey whole. 
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According to the BBC, when a snake eats a large prey item, its stomach and intestines expand rapidly, its metabolic rate goes up, and it increases the amount of digestive enzymes that are produced. Even with the digestive adaptations that snakes possess, it can take them a very long time to digest their food. During this time, the snake’s midsection often bloats dramatically for several days. 
Once the mouse was completely consumed, the snake proceeded into the thick of the palm trees, and disappeared from their sight. Although it is an incredibly rare sighting, it is not unusual to see black mambas active during the day, and hunting. Nelene concludes that they were awestruck, and for hours afterwards kept repeating, 'I cannot believe we just saw that! But of course we were sad on part of the mouse that had to die'. But it is true that in the wild, one life has to die in order for another to live! 
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For more videos visit snakes, reptiles and insects
Written by Tracy Burrows
Commentary by Nelene Prinsloo
Video by Corne Prinsloo


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