A green mamba is a bright, velvety-green slender snake with diamond patterned skin that lives primarily in trees. It has a narrow head, rounded eyes, and grows between 5 and 7 feet (1.5 to 2.1 m) long. The reptile is commonly found in forests throughout most of Africa. The green mamba's lifespan is 15 to 25 years in the wild, and it can travel at speeds up to 7 mph (11.3 km).
Living among the leaves of trees in the forest and savannas in Africa, the green mamba prefers the dense vegetation along the South African coastal areas. It also prefers living in bamboo thickets, as well as in mango, tea and coconut plantations. Along with small mammals, reptiles and birds, the snake also enjoys eating bird's eggs.
Male green mambas fight each other for mating rights. This involves wrestling each other to the ground, but they typically do not bite each other. The green mamba lays eggs rather than giving live birth. In the summer, the females lay between six and 17 eggs in a nest made among decaying wood and vegetation on the forest floor. The hatchlings are born venomous in the late summer, are blue-green in color and measure 13 to 18 inches (33 to 46 cm) long.
The mamba is often mistaken for the similar-looking green Boornslang snake, which is harmless. The main difference between the two is that the mamba's belly is green, and the Boornslang's belly is white or yellow. Also, the mamba's eye is smaller than the Boornslang's.
While a green mamba will come to the ground to hunt prey, sun bathe or lay eggs, it is primarily an arboreal species. The green mamba is a diurnal, non-aggressive snake not known for attacking humans. It will typically try to escape danger rather than stay and fight or bite and will usually only bite if repeatedly provoked or threatened. When it is ready to bite, the green mamba will flare up and flatten out its neck into a narrow hood.
A green mamba's venom contains neurotoxins. Although the dose of venom from a bite is not typically substantial because the snake is smaller in size when compared to its relative, the black mamba, people bitten by a green mamba should seek immediate medical treatment, as the bite is potentially fatal. Standard snakebite care should be taken until professional medical help is administered, including keeping the victim calm and still and keeping the bitten area below the heart level, if possible.