Anacondas are large semiaquatic snakes found in tropical regions of South America.
The anaconda lives over a vast area of tropical river systems and swamps in South America, east of the Andes. This hot, humid region with its dense foliage offers excellent habitat for such a large snake, which fits well into this world.
In the wild, the average lifespan of an anaconda is roughly 10 years. In captivity, an anaconda can have a lifespan of up to about 30 years.
Anacondas are members of the boa family.
“Anaconda” is the common name for the genus Eunectes. Eunectes means “good swimmer” in Greek.
There are four species of anacondas:
• the green anaconda (Eunectes murinus), also known as the common anaconda
• the yellow anaconda (Eunectes notaeus), also known as the Paraguayan anaconda
• the dark-spotted anaconda (Eunectes deschauenseei)
• the Beni anaconda (Eunectes beniensis), also known as the Bolivian anaconda
Although the name ‘Anaconda’ applies to all four species, it is often used to refer only the green anaconda which is the largest snake in the world by weight, and the second longest.
The green anaconda is normally some shade of brownish-green, olive, or grayish-green and patterned with egg-shaped black spots. It can reach a length of 9 meters (30 feet), weigh up to 227 kilograms (550 pounds) and measure up to 30 centimeters (12 inches) in diameter.
The Beni or Bolivian anaconda is very similar to the green anaconda in size and coloration. Like green anacondas, these massive snakes are primarily brownish green, olive, or grayish green with black spots.
The yellow anaconda has a pattern of blotches, saddles, spots, and streaks (usually black or dark brown) against a yellow, golden-tan, or greenish-yellow background. Adults grow to an average of 3.3 to 4.4 m (10.8 to 14.4 ft) in total length.
The dark-spotted anaconda is about the same size as the yellow anaconda and is brown with large dark spots.
In all species females are larger than males.
Anacondas, like all boas, are nonvenomous.
They are primarily nocturnal snakes, though can be seen active throughout the day.
The anaconda likes to be in or near water and spends a large part of its time in the murky waters that help to hide, as well as support, its tremendous body.
Anacondas are excellent swimmers and divers. Their eyes and nasal openings are on top of their head,so the snakes can wait for prey while remaining nearly hidden by the water.
Anacondas rest and sun themselves along the bank of a river or in tree branches that hang over water along riverbanks so the snakes can quickly drop into the water if needed.
Anaconda can stay underwater for as long as 10 minutes without coming to the surface to breathe.
On land, anacondas are capable of reaching up to 8 kilometers (5 miles) per hour. In water, anacondas have the ability to maintain a speed of 16 kilometers (10 miles) per hour.
Anacondas are careful hunters who rely on surprise rather than speed to capture their food.
It can hunt both on land and water, although it prefers the water since it is much more maneuverable there.
An anaconda eats birds, reptiles and mammals. Its diet consists of mice, wild pigs, capybara, deer, iguanas, turtles, caimans, and even jaguars!
Anacondas have rows of sharp, needle-like teeth. These teeth are not used for chewing food but for gripping onto prey so that an anaconda can position itself to wrap its coils around its prey.
An anaconda kills its prey by coiling its muscular body around the creature and squeezing until the animal can no longer breathe. Jaws attached by stretchy ligaments allow them to swallow their prey whole, no matter the size.
Anacondas have a slow-acting digestive system and it can take several weeks or longer for the anaconda to digest its meal. It can live for a year after eating a very large meal.
Anacondas are solitary animals until mating.
Anaconda courtship often lasts several weeks during the spring season. The female is thought to leave a scent trail to attract a male, but she may also produce some sort of airborne chemical signal.
Surprisingly, anacondas sometimes cluster in a breeding ball that may have 2 to 12 males coiled around one female — and they may stay like this for up to 4 weeks! Though the males may win by strength, sometimes the female — who is larger and stronger than the males — choses who she wants. Females may mate with several males during the season.
The interesting fact is that anacondas produce eggs but incubate them internally, this is Ovoviviparity. The reason for this is most likely because of the habitat they live in. It would probably evolve for cases where eggs would ether be drowned or dry out if they were laid and incubated externally.
When pregnant, female anacondas do not eat, since they do not want to risk losing their young while hunting.
Females typically have around 30 babies, though the number is fewer for smaller anacondas and higher for larger ones. Newborn anacondas are smaller versions of the adults and instinctively know how to survive on their own without any help from their mother.
Humans are the anaconda’s most dangerous predator. In many parts of South America, they are hunted, both legally and illegally, for their skin and for sale in the illegal pet trade. Often, these snakes are killed just because people fear and dislike them.
Anacondas have a legendary status as “man eaters.” There have been reports of humans being eaten by anacondas, though none have been verified. The scientific consensus is, however, that an anaconda could eat a human.
The giant anaconda is a mythical snake of enormous proportions said to be found in South America.
Anacondas have been portrayed in horror literature and film, often with the ability to swallow adult humans. Among the most popular such films are the 1997 film, Anaconda, and its three sequels.