Do the Mamba


[ One big mamba! ]

March 21 – Just about everyone has heard of the black mamba, a large, swift, and dangerous African snake. They can grow up to 14 feet in length and have very toxic venom. I have included a picture of me in this post, at around six or seven years old, standing on my dad’s shoulders under the overhang of our roof, next to a dead mamba hanging down from that overhang, and I believe it was a ten-footer or thereabouts. African students on the mission station had killed it after a battle with sticks and stones.

On this same mission station one day, a group of missionaries were out taking an afternoon stroll among the rocky hills close by, known as kopjes (koppies). Suddenly up ahead we spied a black mamba speeding towards one of those kopjes, and Dad and I immediately gave chase, grabbing up sticks as we ran.

As mambas usually do, it had its head and a couple of feet of neck raised up off the ground, the better to strike at enemies, I guess, but it just fled and did not strike. The blows of our sticks did not slow it down and as it reached the foot of the hill it slid in under a large slab of rock and vanished – except for a few inches of tail it neglected to pull in out of sight. Knowing that snakes always resist being pulled out backwards, Dad seized that tail and began to pull.

The mamba stayed put, holding on firmly to its rocky cover. I climbed up over the rock slab and discovered a large crack in it, and right there down below the crack was the head of that mamba. What luck! Not for the mamba, of course. I took out my pocket knife and reached down into the crack and stabbed that head. The mamba very quickly changed policy and backed out immediately.

Dad had been pulling hard and now with the tension released he fell over backwards. Fortunately as he did so he managed to swing the snake way out away from him and was unharmed. Injured as it was, the mamba was unable to escape and we soon killed it and hung it up in a small sapling and continued our walk. On the way back I went over again to inspect our prize, and it struck like lightning in my direction. Not quite dead, apparently, but unable to aim due to injury. This mamba turned out to be about nine feet long, and no longer was a threat to the local population. – DALE

(The header picture on this blog is from

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One Response to Do the Mamba

  1. Richard says:

    Great story and photo, Uncle Dale. I admire but do not share your fearlessness around poisonous creatures, and felt a bit of adrenaline rush just reading about your encounter with the mamba. Our only poisonous snake here in Northern California is the Pacific rattlesnake which is generally timid, non-aggressive, and tends to avoid humans when possible. Lucky us…


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