Name: Eastern Green Mamba (Dendroaspis angusticeps)
Classification and Taxonomy:
Distribution: This eastern green mamba is native to regions near the coastlines of southern Africa and East Africa. The eastern green mamba's range extends from Kenya south through Tanzania, Malawi, eastern Zimbabwe, and eastern Zambia. It can also be found in Zanzibar and northern Mozambique. An isolated and genetically distinct population is found in South Africa from the extreme northeastern part of Eastern Cape along the KwaZulu-Natal coastline and into southern Mozambique.
Habitat: An elusive species, the eastern green mamba is primarily arboreal (living in trees), and is usually well camouflaged in the foliage. It is believed by some herpetologists that its habitat is limited to tropical rainforests in coastal lowlands. According to other experts, the eastern green mamba can also be found in coastal bush, and dune and montane forest. Unlike its close relative the black mamba, the eastern green mamba is rarely found in open terrain and prefers relatively dense, well-shaded vegetation. As well as wild forest habitats, it is also commonly found in thickets and farm trees (such as citrus, mango, coconut, and cashew). In coastal East Africa it is known to enter houses and may even shelter in thatched roof dwellings. Specimens have been found at elevations up to 1,500 meters (4,900 ft) above sea level.
Behavior: A diurnal species, the eastern green mamba is active by day and sleeps at night coiled up in foliage or rarely a hollow within the trunk or branch. An agile snake and an adept climber, it is not commonly found on the ground though may come down to bask in the morning sun (thermoregulation). In a study of the movement patterns of two adult specimens over a 27-day period, the researcher found their activity range areas to be very low, comparable to other predators who ambush prey rather than actively hunt. This is in contrast to most elapid species, including other mambas, who tend to actively hunt or forage for prey. The study's preliminary evidence sheds some light on this species' method of hunting prey and suggests that it may be an ambush predator due to the sit-and-wait behavior displayed.
Diet: The eastern green mamba preys primarily on birds and their eggs as well as small mammals including bats. It is believed to eat arboreal lizards as well. It uses a sit-and-wait strategy of foraging, though an eastern green mamba has been recorded actively hunting sleeping bats. The species has also been known to raid the nests of young birds. Sit-and-wait tactics may be successful with highly mobile prey, such as adult birds or rodents. Documented prey include the sombre greenbul, which occur in dense areas of natural and cultivated vegetation along Kenya's coastline. Ionides and Pitman (1965) reported a large bushveld gerbil in the stomach of a green mamba in Tanzania. Although the bushveld gerbil does not occur in Kenya, green mambas prey on the seven species of gerbil that inhabit portions of its range.
Predator: The eastern green mamba has few natural predators. Humans, mongooses, snake eagles, and genets commonly prey on this species of mamba. Hornbills and other snakes prey on juvenile green mambas.
Dymadex's blogs on reptiles and amphibians. Reptiles are tetrapod animals characterized by scaly skin. Amphibians are ectothermic, tetrapod vertebrates characterized by smooth skin.
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