Black mambas are not a snake you want to mess with.
These snakes are fast—they can slither up to 12 miles per hour.
They're long—they've been known to reach up to 14 feet.
And they're venomous—extremely venomous. Some have even been known to call the black mamba the most dangerous snake in the world.
For one conservationist in South Africa, catching black mambas, or any reptile for that matter, is one of his favorite past times.
"It's what I live for!" said Nick Evans in an email with National Geographic.
Evans runs the KwaZulu Natal Amphibian and Reptile Conservation organization in Durban, South Africa. Their mission focuses on education and dispelling common misconceptions about snakes. Evans also frequently removes them from properties in Durban.
Video taken from inside the home of one of Durban's residents shows an up-close look at the mamba's deadly mouth. Black mambas, which have grey or olive skin, actually derive their name from the striking, blueish black color of the inside of their mouths. (Watch two black mambas tie each other in knots in a fight for dominance.)
Evans reported that the house was home to an array of rabbits, hamsters, and birds, ideal prey for a snake that primarily feeds on small animals (small mammals are a particular favorite).
In the beginning of the video, the snake lies nearly motionless, with its mouth agape. These snakes are characteristically shy and display the inside of their mouths if they feel threatened. Mambas will usually only strike if their perceived attacker persists.
"In the open, and if it has the opportunity, the mamba will always flee rather than fight," said Evans. "In a situation like this, it will gape at the threat, exposing the pitch-black, inside of its mouth."
Other warnings of defense include the snake lifting its head and nearly a third of its body off the ground, spreading its cobra-like neck flaps, and hissing. Once a black mamba strikes its attacker, it injects a dangerous cocktail of neuro- and cardiotoxins.
Evans, however, makes it look easy as he catches the snake using special tongs, before it has a chance to strike.
After catching the reptile, Evans measured it, finding it to be just over eight feet long (2.5 meters). All the snakes and various reptiles Evans catches are released in a reserve. He inserts a rice-sized microchip under the skin of each one. If the same animal is caught twice, this allows him to measure how far it roamed or how big it has grown.
Black mambas can be found throughout sub-Saharan Africa. These animals prefer to avoid people, but as humans expand into their territory, interactions become more likely and could constitute a possible threat for both snakes and people.
Said Evans, "In summer, I may receive twenty or more calls in a single day."
Many of those calls turn out to be false alarms. When dealing with venomous snakes, most experts advise calling a professional to remove the animal. Evans says the best way to prevent an unwanted interaction is to learn more about snake characteristics and what might attract them to a home.