; order Squamata, suborder Serpentes)
A family of venomous snakes which have short, firm, grooved fangs at the front of the mouth. The venom is mainly neurotoxic (i.e. a nerve poison). Generally these are elongate, agile snakes, active at dusk or dark. Their prey consists mainly of small vertebrates. Bungarus (kraits) of south-east Asia grow up to 2 m long; they are nocturnal and feed almost exclusively on other snakes. The genus Dendroaspis (mambas) of Africa includes the black mamba which grows up to 4.25 m long and has been recorded moving at 11 km/h across country, and the smaller (up to 2.7 m), arboreal green mamba. Ophiophagus hannah (king cobra) of southern Asia, the longest of all venomous snakes, sometimes exceeds 5 m; its neck ribs can be spread to form a small hood. There are about 200 species, found on every continent except Europe.
Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.