Portfolio: Havergal College Student Treehouse Portfolio


The Daily Newspaper of the Dendroaspis Polylepis (Black Mamba)

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Black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis), Tanzania

Dendroaspis polylepis. © 2005

 Today's Mamba News


Near Cape Town, South Africa. Last night, while we mambas were heading home for the night after a long day's basking, Black Amba, a local, attacked a newborn of only three days.  Though the newborn was able to instinctively defend himself, Amba overpowered him.  The newborn was found paralyzed shortly after the attack and was taken immediately to the snakespital.  He remains in critical condition, hanging for his life.  Amba has not been apprehended as of yet because of his incredible speed.  Unlike our average mamba, which travels at 20 km/h, he travels at 21 km/h.  He is likely to be in Botswana at his rate of travel.  This is a disturbing occurrence, as it does not happen very often.  Usually, black mambas, such as ourselves, do not attack other black mambas unless they are fleeing from danger to their lairs.  Police have yet to find the motive of Amba’s attack.


Mogadishu, Somalia.  The 2005 census has been released and no one is impressed.  The Dendroaspis Polylepis Housing and Food Census tells us that the heavily inhabited region in northern Somalia has nearly consumed the local rodent population.  Men returning from their annual stalking of the females are upset that they now need to hunt more for their food.  This has also affected the bird population of Somalia as they are now the primary prey for the mambas.  Through our research, we have found that the rodents have declined in population because of the mamba boom that began four years ago when female mambas began to lay seventeen eggs, the maximum amount of eggs possible for our species to lay in a year.  Long time resident, Bamba Babamoo, who is approaching his final days with the living, had this to say: “ I been livin’ here my whole life, and now some young hot shots decide to come along and have kids like there’s no tomorrow?  They been ruinin’ my final days with all this extra huntin’!  I can’t take it no more!”  The mamba mayor of Mogadishu has requested further research into the matter.   



Outside Mogadishu, Somalia.>  As the ninth day of the twenty-third Black Mambalympics closed yesterday, we have so far seen a record broken each day.  Day one to four were from Dan Paulepis in both the 100m and 200m slither, having achieved a record 24.3km/h, breaking the old record of 23.0km/h.  The next few days records were broken in the 400m, 1000m, and 2000m by various snakes, including one of the few competitors to come all the way from the Sahara, Dendroaspis Asper.  All snakes are naturally fast, as they need to be able to flee to their lairs when in danger, but overcoming the average speeds of our species is a terrific feat.  On the sixth day a startling win was achieved in the high-rearing event by a newborn who has not even reached her full length yet.  A tactic commonly used before attacking prey, high-rearing is a competition involving the lifting of a snake’s head as high as possible and marking a spot on a tree with a tooth.  The world record-holders can reach startling heights of 1.47m.  Average snakes can only reach approximately 1.00m when hunting. 

Meanwhile, the rumours of a green mamba managing to sneak his way into the competition are false and a spokesnake for the Mambalympic Organization reports that “strict testing is undergone by each athlete in order to make sure that only black mambas compete in the tournament; even the closest cousins will be caught.”  Rumours of a scandal such as this bring back memories of the II Mambalympic Games, when an ill-informed green mamba covered himself in black soil in effort to compete.  It wasn’t until the opening ceremonies that he was expelled from the stadium.  A large inquiry followed, which investigated this huge mistake, because as everyone knows, black mambas are not black, but greyish-brown. 

Tomorrow’s events include tree-climb and biathlon, a combination of high-rearing and short slithers.

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© 2005 snake2

                               The finish-line of the 100m slither,  D. Polylepis took home the gold.


South Africa.  Often considered the competition for the more macho snakes, the Annual Southern Black Mamba Bird Hunting Competition began yesterday alongside its rival, the Mambalympics.  While the Mambalympics focus more on the agility and flexibility of mambas, this tournament highlights the instinctual characteristic of hunting in black mambas.  All ages are invited to compete, as even day-old mambas are perfectly capable of catching their own food.  No newborn, however, has ever caught a twelve-pound bird before, as D.P. Lepis did yesterday afternoon.  She celebrated her catch by attempting to eat the bird, but discovered her jaw was not yet large enough to eat it, even when she dislocated her jaw, as all mambas do to eat. 

Alongside D.P. were the veteran hunters B. Dendro and Uma Bride, both eight-year-olds, who have been competing since the age of two and winning regularly since they were four.  Uma and B. aren’t worried about the uprising competition and Uma cheerfully told reporters “I’m not fretting over some young hot-shot.  I reckon I’ll be dead soon anyhow.  ‘Scuse me now, I’m feeling slow and tired, I need to go warm my blood up in the sun.” 

Each day of the competition only lasts for two hours, in which the largest or rarest birds are hunted for.  Contrary to the Mambalympics, which carry on all day, the tournament is a short competition because, as organizers point out, black mambas naturally do not keep the company of other snakes. 

Uma Bride warms up her jaw before the tournament by eating a large rodent.

Real Estate

For newborns!

Are you a mamba just out of the egg and looking for a place to live or bask for the rest of your life?  Of course you are, you’re a black mamba, this is what we do!  We have the largest listing of hollowed trees, abandoned insect mounds, rock crevices, abandoned burrows and sunny basking spots available in Africa!  See listings below.

Dens and Lair:

?    Hollowed tree, Central South Africa, well hidden, cozy and 200m from popular mamba basking rock.  10 hours of direct sunlight daily, shelter from rain.  Available for three birds and a rat.
?    Abandoned insect mound, Somalian border.  Former den of a black mamba, so no initial housework is required.  Roomy and near mouse nest.  Nine hours of sunlight daily.  Available for two rats, three birds and a small lizard of any sort.
?    Rock crevice, Eastern South African coast.  Basking spot next door!  Secure, cozy.  Within three km of more than ten rodent and lizard nests.  5 hours of sunlight daily.  Far from human settlements and mongoose dens.  Available in exchange for location of suitable decomposing tree to give birth and two birds.

Basking spots:

?    Large rock, Southern Botswana.  Keeps your blood warm for up to 12 hours a day, and near shade if you get too hot. Available for six lizards.
?    Sandy dunes, South-central Sahara Desert.  Completely secluded, no other black mambas within 35km.  Warning: Daytime temperatures can reach high temperatures, and there is little shelter nearby.  Available for three rats. 

For second buyers!

Lairs and dens for mambas who have been kicked, scared, or thrown out of their first (or second!) homes.  We offer listings of the safest and most secure dens in order to allow you to live the life any mamba would want.

?    Hollowed insect mound, Northwest South Africa.  40km from human settlements, 33 km from mongoose lair.  Large supply of birds nearby.  Available for four birds and a lizard.
?    Hollowed tree trunk, for men!  Near lairs of over twelve females ready for stalking in the spring!  Secluded, entrance difficult to spot.  Available for two birds, three lizards and a mouse.
?    Collection of hollowed trees on southern-most African coast.  Only accessible by one land route, which anything larger than a mongoose cannot fit in.  Rats live next door.  Prices range from three birds to five birds, six rodents. 

For further information on any of these listings, contact A.R. Odenteater outside Capetown for southern Africa and Vipe Poly on the Somalian border for northern Africa.  Prices are subject to change.



For all those mambas out there who loved Kill Bill Vol. 1, prepare for a sssuper sssurprise!  Not only has Kill Bill Vol. 2 come to a Nero Cinema near you, but it also debuts the career of Zwart Tango, who grew up in Botswana and was taken to America at the age of five months.  In an interview, she says that she does miss Botswana but nothing compares to the power she has on screen.  In the movie, she is the weapon of choice of Elle Driver, an assassin.  The black mamba, as Zwart Tango told us, was the weapon of choice because of its speed.  "The humans know we are extremely fast and our venom causes paralysis and death.  What the humans don't realize sometimes is that we don't attack unless we are attacked.  In my final scene, I'm slithering around while Elle is cussing on the floor.  The humans just assume that I'm going to kill her but because she's not doing anything to me, I won't do anything to her."  Zwart Tango goes on to tell us that the main character is referred to as the Black Mamba because of her speed and deadly assassinations.

Kill Bill Vol. 2 is surely one of the greatest movies released this year.  However, it is rated AA-2, meaning all mambas under the age of two must be accompanied by a mamba over the age of two in order to see the film.   

Letters to the Editor


Hey Mamba Noire!

I'm just writing to talk about this, like, issue we have with our names, Black Mamba.  Like, what is that?  We are greyish-brown!  I mean, can't people see?  Like, OK, we have black inside our mouths, but that's it!  I mean, when humans hear the name "black mamba" they think, "Ooh, that's a scary snake!"  But what they don't see is that we're not!  I don't know...  I'm not asking for advice, I'm just kind of stating my month-old opinion.  You dig?

- From a teenaged, frustrated mamba.

Information on the Internet

  • Wikipedia: Mamba  A summary of black mambas including their classification in the Linnaean system and their physical characteristics and habitat.
  • Black Mamba  A description of all physical characteristics and habits of black mamba snakes.
  • Black Mamba (Dendroaspis Polylepis)  A summary of black mamba habits and characteristics as well as an overview of their venom and the antidotes available.
  • Poison kisses and deadly hugs  A description of various types of snakes, including the black mamba.
  • The Black Mamba Snake  A website with pages quickly summarizing the important details of black mamba habitat, characteristics and reproduction.
  • When a Mamba Strikes  A description of black mamba hunting and eating tactics.
  • Black Mamba  A fact sheet with most of the basic information about black mambas including physical characteristics, habitat and habits.
  • Black Mamba  A fact sheet describing the physical appearance, habits and status of the black mamba.
  • Black Mamba  A thorough description of all characteristics and habits of the black mamba, including life cycles, habitat, diet, and environmental impact.
  • Animal Diversity Web  A website with a detailed phylogenetic tree and descriptions of most organisms.
  • Dendroaspis Polylepis  A description of the black mamba including geographic range, habitat, diet, etc.


[Author unknown]. 1955. "Mamba or Tree Cobra" in Universal Standard Encyclopedia. Joseph Laffan Morse. New York: Unicorn Publishers, Inc., pp. 5506.

[Author unknown]. 1957. "Chordata" in The Book of Popular Science, Vol.1. Lawrence M. Levin, et al. Toronto: The Grolier Society Inc., pp. 295.

Bennett, Albert F. 2003. "Mamba" in The World Book Encyclopedia, Vol. 13. [Editor unknown]. Chicago: World Book Inc., pp 115.

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Special thanks to Mrs. Davis for being a lovely bio teacher.

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The ToL really appreciates the efforts of these teachers and students. Havergal College has produced some of the first treehouses created by students and we think they did a terrific job. Special thanks to Seonaid Davis, the coordinator of this project at her school, for becoming one of the first teachers to use the ToL's treehouse publishing system, and for inviting other teachers at her school to do so also. Nice work!

Lisa Schwartz
University of Arizona

Havergal College

Sarah Ianni
Havergal College

Kate Rowlandson
Havergal College

Correspondence regarding this page should be directed to Lisa Schwartz at , Seonaid Davis at , Sarah Ianni at , and Kate Rowlandson at

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