A dwarf mongoose in South Africa's Timbavati Nature Reserve has proven once again that in the animal kingdom, it's not the size that counts, it's how you use your teeth! The plucky pipsqueak had no trouble showing one of Africa's deadliest snakes just who was in charge.

"It just goes to show that the most exciting safari sightings are not the ones that involve the Big 5!" writes safari guide Brett Horley, who filmed the clash of fur and scales.

Smaller snakes are not unusual fare for an opportunistic mongoose, but tackling a foe as large as this one is a bold move. Mambas aren't typically on the mongoose menu, so this furry little carnivore probably didn't have dinner in mind.

Instead, it's possible that the slithering interloper got too close to the mongoose's burrow. These animals are communal nomads, and are known to fiercely defend their temporary turf

"The snake will not view the mongoose as a potential meal but more of an annoyance and will move off," explains herpetologist Johan Marais of the African Snakebite Institute. Although mongoose are often portrayed as snake-killing specialists, Marais points out that their diets are actually quite diverse, consisting of whatever these small hunters can get find, from rodents and insects to reptiles.

"The snake didn't seem focused on attacking the mongoose and rather treated it as a pesky fly every time it nipped its tail," adds Horley. "Eventually the snake made its exit up a tree when the scene came to an end."

Back in January, the crew of SafariLive watched a business of mongoose (yep, that's the collective noun) ward off a boomslang. Again, the animals were probably more of an irritation to the snake than a genuine threat, but they certainly get points for fearlessness.

Black Mamba Anatomy _related _2015_09_16

 Top header image: Richard Turner/Flickr