Skip to Content

What are baby black mambas called?

The black mamba is one of the most feared snakes in Africa. Known for its lightning-fast strikes, highly potent venom, and aggressive behavior when threatened, the black mamba has a fearsome reputation across its native habitat. But what are the baby versions of this infamous serpent called? Here’s a closer look at the young of the black mamba species.

Baby Black Mambas Are Called Hatchlings

When black mambas are born, they are referred to as hatchlings. This is the term used for all newborn snakes that have emerged from an egg. Black mambas are oviparous snakes, which means the females lay eggs rather than giving birth to live young.

Female black mambas typically lay between 6-17 eggs per clutch. The eggs are oblong in shape and fairly large, ranging from 80-100 mm in length. Following fertilization and laying, the eggs will incubate for around 90 days before hatching.

When the baby snakes first emerge from their eggs, they are referred to as hatchlings. A newborn black mamba is quite small compared to the adults, averaging around 40 cm in length. Their bodies are more slender at this stage, and they weigh just 50-60 g.

Due to their small size and lack of venom potency, black mamba hatchlings are not considered dangerous to humans. They are still quick and can bite if handled, but they lack the lethal venom that makes adult mambas so deadly.

Appearance of Baby Black Mambas

In their first few days and weeks of life, black mamba hatchlings look fairly similar to adult snakes, just on a smaller scale. They have the distinctive coffin-shaped head and glossy greyish scales their species is known for.

There are a few subtle differences in hatchling coloration though. Baby black mambas often appear slightly more bronze or brownish versus the steely gray of mature snakes. Their undersides may also be paler gray rather than pure white.

Within their first year, hatchling mambas will begin transitioning to the darker adult coloration. Their venom also matures rapidly, becoming potentially lethal within 1-2 years after hatching.

Unique Snake Egg Tooth

Like all snake hatchlings, newborn black mambas are equipped with a special temporary tooth designed to help them break out of the leathery egg casing. This tooth is known as an egg tooth or caruncle.

The egg tooth is located on the tip of the young snake’s snout. It is shaped like a small spine or thorn, and is usually shed within a few days or weeks after hatching. The egg tooth allows the hatchling to slice a neat hole in the egg, then push its way free from the shell.

Growth Rate of Hatchling Black Mambas

Baby black mambas grow very quickly in their first few years of life. Within the first 12 months after hatching, they typically reach around 2 feet (60 cm) in length. They will continue growing at a rapid rate for the next 2-3 years until maturing.

The typical lifespan of a black mamba is around 11 years in the wild. In captivity, they may live up to 20 years. Here is an overview of their growth timeline from hatchling through adulthood:

Age Length
Hatchling 40 cm
1 year 60 cm
2 years 1.2 m
3 years 1.5 m
Mature adult 2-3 m

As you can see, black mambas undergo extremely rapid growth from tiny hatchlings to fearsome adults in just a few short years. Their increase in length averages around 60 cm per year in the first 3 years of life.

Habits of Baby Black Mambas

The habits and behavior of hatchling black mambas differ somewhat from the adults. Here are some key ways their lifestyles vary:


Newly hatched black mambas start out feeding on smaller prey than mature snakes. Baby black mambas will eat lizards, small rodents, birds, frogs, and eggs during their first year of life. As they grow, they gradually tackle larger mammals and birds.

Venom Usage

Hatchling mambas lack the volume of venom and potency of toxins that make adult snakes so deadly. They may strike readily when threatened, but their venom only causes mild swelling and pain rather than rapid mortality in humans.

Within a year or two the venom becomes far more toxic as the snake matures. Defensive strikes become increasingly dangerous once a black mamba reaches around 1.2 m in length.

Activity Patterns

Due to their small size, baby black mambas are much more vulnerable to predation than adult snakes. This means hatchlings tend to hide and remain inactive for larger portions of the day to avoid attracting attention.

As black mambas grow and gain predatory prowess, their activity level increases. Adults are famous for being active, alert serpents that constantly patrol their home ranges.


Black mambas reach sexual maturity around 2-3 years of age. Males may mate each year, while females only reproduce every 2-3 years. When a female is gravid, she typically lays eggs 3-4 months after successful mating.

Defense Mechanisms of Baby Black Mambas

To survive in the wild, hatchling black mambas utilize specialized adaptations and behaviors to avoid falling prey to natural predators in their environment. Some of their main defense mechanisms include:


From the moment they hatch, baby black mambas rely on camouflage for security. Their slate gray or brownish scales allow them to blend in against forest floors and tree bark, avoiding visual detection.


Rather than actively hunting like adults, hatchlings spend much time hidden in burrows, rock crevices, brush, or tree holes. Their small size enables them to easily conceal themselves from threats.


The incredible speed black mambas are known for is present even in newborns. If exposed, their first instinct is to rapidly flee danger. Already lightning-fast straight from the egg, hatchlings can outpace many predators.


Young black mambas learn early to defend themselves with a bite. Though not potent enough to kill large animals, their venom can startle predators and provide a chance to escape. They may curl into a striking stance and readily bite if cornered.

Playing Dead

A common trick used by young snakes of many species is to feign death by rolling onto their backs and lying motionless with their mouths open. This can convince predators to lose interest, allowing the snake hatchling to eventually right itself and slither away once the threat passes.

Threats Faced by Baby Black Mambas

Despite their speed and defenses, young black mambas face substantial threats in the wild from an array of natural predators. Some of the most common predators of hatchlings and juveniles include:

Birds of Prey

Soaring raptors like eagles, hawks, and owls regularly hunt small snakes. Larger birds of prey may also tackle juvenile black mambas up to around 1 meter long.

Wild Cats

Feline predators like servals, caracals, and leopards will opportunistically hunt and kill baby black mambas when they find them. Only the largest cats may continue preying on mambas once they reach adulthood and become dangerous prey.


These fierce weasel-like mammals are legendary snake killers. Highly resistant to venom, mongooses fight and feed on black mambas of all ages, though they likely specialize on smaller, younger snakes.

Other Snakes

Larger snake species pose a major threat to hatchling black mambas. King cobras, pythons, and puff adders are among the snake predators they must watch out for early in life.

Captive Breeding of Baby Black Mambas

Due to their lethal venom and speed, black mambas are not recommended as pets for casual snake owners. However, they are occasionally captive-bred by experts such as venom researchers, zoos, and specialized private collectors. Here are some key points about breeding and handling baby black mambas in captivity:

  • Captive black mamba pairs may be introduced for breeding when they reach around 2-3 years old.
  • Females produce the first clutch of 6-17 eggs roughly 3-4 months after successful mating.
  • Incubation temperature should be kept at 28-30°C for black mamba eggs.
  • Hatching occurs after 90 days. The baby snakes are semiautonomous and begin feeding within a week after emerging.
  • Hatchling black mambas are housed individually. They can be defensive and prone to cannibalism around siblings.
  • Their growth rate and venom potency must be carefully monitored. They rapidly become potentially deadly within their first year or two of life.
  • Only experts should attempt to handle or interact with hatchling black mambas, using tongs and other restraint equipment.

Key Facts About Baby Black Mambas

To summarize everything we’ve covered, here are the key facts about what baby black mambas are called and how they develop:

  • Newly hatched black mambas are called hatchlings.
  • They average 40 cm in length and 50-60 g in weight after emerging from the egg.
  • Initially hatchlings appear more brownish, becoming darker with age.
  • A temporary egg tooth on their snout helps them slice through the egg shell.
  • Hatchlings grow around 60 cm per year for their first 3 years.
  • They start out feeding on smaller prey like lizards and rodents.
  • Their venom transforms from mild to potentially lethal within 1-2 years.
  • Baby black mambas rely on camouflage, hiding, and fleeing from threats.
  • In captivity, breeding pairs should be at least 2-3 years old before any eggs are produced.


While the strikingly speedy and deadly black mamba inspires fear across sub-Saharan Africa, the hatchlings that emerge from their eggs are considerably more vulnerable. Referred to as hatchlings in their first weeks and months of life, the young snakes possess only mildly toxic venom and are not considered a serious threat to humans.

Relying on cryptic defenses like camouflage and hiding, baby black mambas grow astonishingly fast. Within just 1-2 years they mature into the infamous swift and potent serpents that strike fear across the African bush. Though challenging to keep, breeding black mambas in controlled captivity allows researchers to study the life cycle and growth of these incredible snakes from hatchling through adulthood.