Black Mambas hunts by moving fast with their heads high above the ground, on the constant lookout for potential prey as well as predators. Once prey is detected, the mamba ‘freezes’ to avoid early detection and continues with a slow but careful approch. When in reach, the snake hurling itself forward, issuing several quick but deadly bites, swiftly killing its prey. If the prey attempts to escape, the black mamba will follow up its initial bite with a series of strikes. Mambas will release larger prey after biting it to avoid being injured, but smaller prey, such as birds and rodents, are held until the prey has died.
Mambas sometimes holds off a direct attack on a single prey animal but follows it to its burrow. This technique proves quite successful, due to the fact that the black mamba will take full advantage of the situation and feed not just on a single rat or mouse but kill and devour the entire rodent population of the burrow in a single visit.
Black mambas feed mostly on smaller warm blooded mammals, such as rats, mice, hyraxes and even bushbabies. These snakes are agile enough to ambush and catch birds and bats out of the air and do so frequently in trees or near water holes. Mambas do feed occasionally on other reptiles, such as lizards and venomous snakes, including puff adders and cobras. After ingestion, powerful acids digest the prey, sometimes within eight to 12 hours depending on its surrounding temperature.