03/28/2008 02:46 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

The Black Mamba: World's Fastest and Deadliest Snake

Snakes are probably our least favorite animal. While we know a lot of them get a bum rap, it's snakes like the Black Mamba that ruin it for the rest of them.

We were saddened and terrified to hear that:

The body of a young British wildlife enthusiast, who would have celebrated his 29th birthday today, was flown back to London last night after he was bitten by a deadly black mamba snake in South Africa.

Mr. Nathan Layton was walking in the grounds of the South African Wildlife Campus in Hoedspruit with teachers and other students taking a safari field-guide course organised by the nature group Bushwise when the attack happened.

Bushwise staff acted immediately, calling an ambulance when Nathan reported symptoms of a snake bite. Nathan was pronounced dead soon after the ambulance arrived at the campus," the group said in a statement. "He died as a result of a lethal bite, given to him by a juvenile black mamba snake."


Morbidly curious, we looked into this lethal creature. Apparently, the Black Mamba is the world's fastest snake and is often considered the most dangerous. But at least they live in Africa, not Manhattan. According to National Geographic:

Black mambas are fast, nervous, lethally venomous, and when threatened, highly aggressive...

Black mambas live in the savannas and rocky hills of southern and eastern Africa. They are Africa's longest venomous snake, reaching up to 14 feet (4.5 meters) in length, although 8.2 feet (2.5 meters) is more the average. They are also among the fastest snakes in the world, slithering at speeds of up to 12.5 miles per hour (20 kilometers per hour).

To watch a Black Mamba zip after an unlucky family of squirrels, click here.

More HuffPost coverage on deadly animals can be found here and here.