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How to Get Bitten by a Black Mamba

Posted by Richard Conniff on February 23, 2013

Southeast Asia's beautiful pit viper (Trimeresurus venustus)

Southeast Asia’s beautiful pit viper (Trimeresurus venustus)

Photographer Mark Laita has a spectacularly beautiful book of snake photographs, Serpentine, coming out soon.   His style of taking the animal out of its environment and into a photographic set allows us to savor the textures and colors of these beautiful creatures.

Here’s what Wired has to say:

“My intention was to explore color, shape and movement, using snakes as a subject, but of course herpetologists will probably enjoy these photographs as well,” says Laita, a Los Angeles photographer known for his stunning studio compositions.

During the making of Serpentine, Laita visited dozens of locations in the U.S. and Central America essentially exporting his studio to zoos, venom labs and to the home and workplaces of breeders and collectors.

“I shot everything from the most venomous — an Inland Taipan — to a harmless garter snake,” says Laita. “As for the most dangerous, though, I would think a king cobra is the most capable of doing serious harm to a human. Very big, fast and angry.”

But along the way, Laita also managed to get bitten by a black mamba, a highly venomous African species.   Apparently, he managed to survive.  But check out the photo, which tells you something about studio photographers:  Is this really how you want to dress  when working close up with a black mamba?

The model (a black mamba) gets snappish with the photographer

The model (a black mamba) gets snappish with the photographer



5 Responses to “How to Get Bitten by a Black Mamba”

  1. This article says he did not even noticed he’d been bitten till next day, and that he survived because it was a “dry bite.” That sounds suspect to me, not least because it has served as very good publicity for his book:

  2. Gabriel Gartner said

    The snake is likely venomoid which entails having the venom glands removed in a pointless surgery that hurts the snakes so that yahoos can have “venomous snakes.” I agree with the above comment (1) there’s no way he didn’t realize the snake had bit him when it happened (2) 99% of the time if you don’t realize you’ve been bitten squarely on your lower leg by a black mamba, you’re dead (3) if it was a dry bite (and the snake is not venomoid) he should go buy a lotto ticket because he’s the luckiest person on the planet….good publicity for the book, but I won’t be buying it now.

  3. I can’t seem to find any information on the species of pit viper photographed at top. It looks like Trimeresurus venustus is actually brown and green colored viper. Does this species show color variation that includes the bright green and orange type? Beautiful snake, I have to agree with Gabriel that it was likely a venomoid.

    • Just want to make sure you understand that the picture at top has nothing to do with the mamba incident shown in the photo at bottom. It’s just another image from Laita’s book and one that I happened to find eye-catching.

      • Thank you for the clarification, I meant to say the Black Mamba could have been a venomoid not the pit viper shown at top. It is definitely an eye-catching photo though, that coloration on the viper is amazing!

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