WATCH: Two green mambas, one with missing tail, engage in male combat over mate

Two green mambas engaged in male combat over a female in uMdloti recently. A resident recorded the fight. | Screenshot

Two green mambas engaged in male combat over a female in uMdloti recently. A resident recorded the fight. | Screenshot

Published Apr 19, 2024


Durban — Two green mambas were recorded partaking in male combat over a mate in uMdloti, on the KwaZulu-Natal North Coast recently.

A brief clip was posted over the weekend on the Facebook group, Snakes of Southern Africa, which helps the public identify southern African snakes and answer any questions they might have about the snakes.

The post said the accompanying video was taken in uMdloti, KwaZulu-Natal. A resident took the video from their car.

The person who posted it asked for confirmation that the snakes were green mambas and whether they were in combat or mating.

They also said they thought mating season for mambas was in June, July or August.

African Snakebite Institute CEO Johan Marais confirmed that it was two green mambas and they were engaged in what they commonly refer to as male combat.

Marais said during mating season, which is obviously right now, if they are busy with male combat, however, mating season varies from species to species. A lot of snakes only mate in early spring but some snakes start even before winter or even mid-winter.

“Female snakes emit pheromones, attract the males and when more than one male arrives for the same female, you often have male combat,” Marais explained.

He said this happens in a variety of snakes including black and green mambas, boomslang, night adders, puff adders and mole snakes.

“It’s a bit of a wrestling match where they twist around one another. The one tries to tire out the other one. It can go on for several hours. They’re not more aggressive towards people. They are busy, they don't really care what happens around them. The weaker male eventually just gives up and moves off and the dominant male gets to mate with the female,” Marais explained.

“The actual mating is a far more peaceful process where the male snake will crawl on top of the female ... with his flickering tongue. Eventually, he will twist his tail beneath hers for copulation to take place.”

Marais said the female will lay eggs about two months later, which varies from species to species, anything from six weeks to three months, but usually about two months later.

He added that baby snakes have what they call an egg tooth. Baby snakes use it to slice the eggs open and off they go.

“The babies are not protected by the parents. They’re not taught any lessons by the parents. They’re on their own,” Marais said.

Commenting on the post, Steve McDaniel said it was male combat. The loser will crawl away and the winner will find the female who’s probably close by.

Tlotlo Lobelo said: “I hope she leaves them both, who wants a violent boyfriend?”

Wayne Sullivan Rawlinson said: “Green mambas. Males in ritual combat.”

Carley Anne Mathee said: “One seems to be missing the tip of its tail.”

Ryan Schubach said: “It’s like a game of thumb war, venomous snake edition.”

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