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Anaconda (The Largest Snakes In The World)

Updated on October 22, 2011

Anacondas are huge snakes belonging to the Boa family and are also known as Water Boa. The name suits them well, since they are the most aquatic of the Boas, and live in or near swamps and back river systems. They are also found in tropical rainforests, Savannah grasslands, scrub forests and deciduous forests. Anaconda's weight is usually supported by water. They prefer to live in water, but do enjoy spending time on land in shallow caves, by the water's edge, or on river bank trees to bask in the sun. They are more often found in swamps and calm waters than in swift moving rivers.

Due to their enormous size, they appear sluggish on land or in trees; but in water, they are capable of surprising speed. They can stay completely submerged for 10 minutes. They are agile swimmers but sometimes prefer to let the river's current carry them downstream with only their nostrils above the watery surface. Anacondas in the wild spend most of their time in rivers hunting for food. Their lifestyle is nocturnal, and they are shy solitary creatures, not easily seen.

Anacondas give birth to living young. Sometimes as many as 100 may be born, but most often 20 to 40 baby snakes, about 2 feet in length, are born at a time. The young are called ‘neonates'. They can hunt and care for themselves soon after birth, but are pretty much defenceless against large predators and often fall prey to them. They eat small rodents like rats and mice, baby birds, frogs and small fishes.

The Tamil word for Anacond ‘anaikolra', which means ‘elephant killer'. The early Spanish settlers referred to this snake as ‘matatoro', which means ‘bull killer'

What an anaconda looks like?

The anaconda has a brownish green, scaly skin that glistens but is dry to the touch. The nostrils are on the top of the snout, letting the snake breathe easily when it is in water. It ‘smells' with its tongue, has no fangs and is non-venomous. It has a large head and thick neck. It emits a foul smelling, brownish musk, which is quite poisonous to small organisms. This may prevent ticks and leeches from attacking them when they are out of water for long periods. It continues to grow all its life, getting bigger and bigger.

Size

Anacondas are famous for their size and weight. They are considered to be big snakes. These snakes may reach a length of over 29 feet and a diameter of more than 12 inches. There are many stories about anacondas being much longer, but they cannot be confirmed. Anacondas like to swim in rivers, making it difficult for researchers to estimate their length. Besides, their ability to remain partly hidden under water makes it difficult to find and accurately document a specimen that exceeds the current world record.

There are some historical reports by an early European explorer of the South American jungles seeing giant anacondas up to 100 feet. Some native people of South America have reported seeing anacondas up to 50 feet. However, none anywhere near that size has ever been caught and measured. The largest documented Anaconda to date was almost 28 feet, with a girth of 44 inches. It was not weighed at the time! But scientists estimate that it must have weighed over 500 pounds.

There is a misconception about them that they are the largest among all snake species. However, the fact is that they are the heaviest in weight and may not be the longest. They are also often mistaken for their Eastern Hemisphere cousin, the Reticulated Python. The Asiatic Reticulated Python holds the world record to be the longest snake ever measured, at 33 feet. The Anaconda, however, is considerably heavier than the Reticulated Python. A 20 foot Anaconda will weigh more than a 33 foot Reticulated Python! As a result, anacondas are considered the largest (i.e the heaviest).

Location

The Anaconda lives throughout tropical South America, Central America and east of the Andes, mainly in the Amazon and Orinoco basins. It is also found in Trinidad.

A Green Anaconda
A Green Anaconda

Types

The species is variable in colour and size, and not all anacondas are huge. However, two types are well known.

  • Green Anaconda - Scientifically called Eunectes Murinus, it is dark green in colour, with black oval patches on its back. This dark green pattern blends the snake well with the dense wet vegetation of its habitat. It is the heaviest among all giant snakes - an adult can grow to more than nine metres in length.
  • Yellow Anaconda - The Yellow Anaconda, scientifically named Eunectes Notaeus and formerly called Boa Murinus, is true to its name. It is mostly yellow in colour with black spots. It is much smaller than the Green Anaconda and reaches lengths of 10 feet to 12 feet. Its habitat includes swamps, marshes, bush-covers, riverbanks and streams. It can be found in Argentina, Paraguary, southeast Bolivia and Brazil.

Do anacondas bite?

Just about every species of snake on earth has teeth. Anacondas' teeth are for chewing. However, for holding onto their prey and preventing it from escaping, they rely on their enormous size and power. It is possible to be bitten by an Anaconda but the bite itself would not be fatal.

Hunting

Like all snakes, anacondas are carnivores (meat eaters) and mostly hunt at night. While some snakes use poison to kill or paralyze their victims, anacondas are non venomous and kill by constriction (squeezing). This means that they coil their large muscular bodies around their victim and squeeze until the prey suffocates. They lie submerged in water, with only a small part of their head above the surface. They also often lie in wait upon the branch of tree, and come surging down to catch animals which come for a drink.

They often find it convenient to drown their prey by dragging them underwater, rather than suffocating them by constriction. With their sharp teeth and powerful jaws, they grab the victim, which may be drowned or squeezed to death. Like all snakes, they swallow their prey whole starting with the head. Their top and bottom jaws are attached to each other with stretchable ligaments that allow the snakes to swallow animals wider than themselves. Sometimes, when they hunt on land, they are rather slow in moving, and have to rely on stealth and the element of surprise to catch their unsuspecting prey.

Diet

Anacondas mainly feed on birds, deer, pigs, dogs and large rodents such as capybara and agouti. Fishes are the largest part of their diet. Occasionally, they have been known to attack turtles, jaguars, other snakes and caiman (a relative of alligator).

Digestion

The anaconda has a very slow digestive system, After a big meal, they will rest for several days while digestion occurs. Many anacondas will not eat again for several weeks or even months, depending upon the size of the last meal. One captive Anaconda is on record for fasting for two years! Once the food is inside the snake, it must be digested quickly before it rots inside the snake's guts. If a snake cannot digest its prey before the bacteria do, it will be forced to get rid of it. If the snake cannot spit it out, then it may die of food poisoning.

Life span

Anacondas can live into their thirties.

Do they eat people?

Stories about enormous size and awesome man-eating qualities are exciting but not usual. Anacondas in the jungles of South America can grow so big that they can swallow a grown man, but they seldom attack humans. Incidents of anaconda attacks, although confirmed, are rare because anacondas live in places where humans do not live

The greatest threat to the anaconda is Man. Most local people kill these snakes out of the fear that they are man-eaters. However, in most instances, if an anaconda senses a human in the area, it will retreat in the other direction. Habitat destruction is another problem that the anaconda faces.

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    • profile image

      a.v. 5 years ago

      The anaconda python looks so large and so big thanks for the information about it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      brandon 5 years ago

      sweet i love these snakes

    • profile image

      robert 5 years ago

      Are you 100% sure that they can swallow an average man?

    • profile image

      STHASH 5 years ago

      I AM NOT SCARED OF SNAKE BUT ANACONDA YOOOOOO

    • profile image

      pooja ghosh 5 years ago

      it is fantastic

    • profile image

      Jordan 5 years ago

      Anacondas ROCK !!!!!!

    • profile image

      sam 5 years ago

      me to its awesome!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      carlos 5 years ago

      im using this to get an A.

    • profile image

      lil mama 5 years ago

      i don't mind snakes but i am really scared of an anaconda

    • profile image

      Firemike 5 years ago

      I knew it!!! Anacondas are the largest snakes in the world, not the pyranese rock python. YAY I WON!!!!!!

    • profile image

      janet 5 years ago

      how does their digestive system work?????????????

    • profile image

      Tootie 1224 5 years ago

      Woah,this was great and the comments were halarious

    • profile image

      Yola's 5 years ago

      I get terrified just by looking at them huge snakes. I am deathly afraid of them more than anything else!

    • profile image

      jithin thomas 5 years ago

      good better best

    • profile image

      logan 5 years ago

      cool

    • profile image

      ren 5 years ago

      very good information provided

    • profile image

      mack4 5 years ago

      they looks so small by pics, i have seen the bigger ones before...

    • profile image

      muthus 5 years ago

      very amazin

    • profile image

      ck 5 years ago

      these s thing are huge.............damn

    • profile image

      chutki 5 years ago

      I think snakes are become a real friends . so i trust only animals ,i want to become a friendship with snakes .......that's all

    • profile image

      psalmson 5 years ago

      anaconda very big and long living snake in the world

    • profile image

      craig holliday 5 years ago

      i have a green anaconda about 9ft long very nasty

    • profile image

      simran george 5 years ago

      i hate anaconda.................

    • profile image

      wilbert 5 years ago

      what a snake....!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      Kistaiah 5 years ago

      Nice to see it But fear to go nearrrrrrrrrrr

    • profile image

      trini 5 years ago

      in trinidad it have a tis lil swamp like lake where they are believe to live cause farmers around the area does get up and find there goat or sheep and sometimes a cow missing ....but it have this local legend dat its a beast livin in the lakw but its the snake cause many fisher men saw it moving in the water

    • profile image

      sniper 5 years ago

      wow its big but i dnt'n like that kind of snake maybe they will kill me';'

    • profile image

      ContainerZero 5 years ago

      Holy Snakes that's a big one!

    • profile image

      mark 5 years ago

      O M G,,,,,

    • profile image

      Hussein 5 years ago

      I wish the green anaconda lived with me

    • profile image

      dejin 5 years ago

      i love snakes especialy anaconda...

    • profile image

      Kenadi 6 years ago

      I never want to see one of those!!!!!

    • profile image

      Kenadi 6 years ago

      Scarry

    • profile image

      rose 6 years ago

      Is it really true about that snake?

    • profile image

      Term Paper guy 6 years ago

      Im doing a term paper on dangerous animals and this really helped thanks dude

    • profile image

      little mama 6 years ago

      i would love t see them in persn but justfar away s that i don't get bitten

    • profile image

      alice 6 years ago

      wow, t didn't think this snake is that big. it really isn't.

    • profile image

      hussein 6 years ago

      I it very big but horrible

    • profile image

      Falk rani 6 years ago

      I love snake nd i want to see snake

    • profile image

      shabir 6 years ago

      wowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

    • profile image

      samri 6 years ago

      wow cool :O there soo big.

      i did a project about ANACONDAS

    • profile image

      anaconda member12354 6 years ago

      ilove the green anaconda

    • profile image

      snakelover334 6 years ago

      I love anacondas! They are so awesomely amazing. ANACONDAS 4 THE WIN! GO ANACONDAS! I wish I had a pet anaconda. Well, basically any sort of snake, but anacondas are the best. Yellow Pythons are the second best:)

    • profile image

      nailea 6 years ago

      they are awesome and creepy !!!! lol

    • profile image

      NEISHA 6 years ago

      WHY DO PEOPLE EVEN LIKE ANDACONDAS THEY ARE SO BIG AND SLITHERY. IF I GOT BIT BY ONE I WOULD DIE SO I HOPE I DON'T RUN INTO ONE,OTHERWISE ILL PASS OUT. {I HAVE ALREADY RAN INTO A MAN WITH A PYTHON THAT HE FOUND BUT GUESS WHAT IT DIDN'T BIT

    • profile image

      laverna 6 years ago

      I have a yellow anaconda she is so beautiful and she is very very sweet.watching them eat is insane and awesome but very dirty there is a lot of blood after they eat so its a good thing they eat in the water it makes it easier to clean.but I also own a ball paython and a savannah monitor.

    • profile image

      Emph 6 years ago

      Woooow, at first I thought it was Rambo. or maybe they are brothers

    • profile image

      andrew 6 years ago

      I get the chills

    • profile image

      bla bla 6 years ago

      that is so amazing =p

    • profile image

      chibuzor 6 years ago

      d information is quite cool,i jst wish i lived in a country where it cn be found.i think i won't get satisfied until i see them with ma own eyes! Very very big i will definitely not wish a friend this in a nightmare!!

    • profile image

      Randall 6 years ago

      Its hilarious to read the comments made by all the teens who have visited this page.

    • profile image

      BOATENG 6 years ago

      I think this creature should be part o the ancient animals like dinosaurs because it is a very huge snake

    • profile image

      Kyalo derrick muli 6 years ago

      Wow! I lyk it, the snake is lyk ma pet cz i c snakes daily n sometimes even bigger dan that!!! i'm in real luv wid snakes!!

    • profile image

      joe 6 years ago

      holy crap big snake

    • profile image

      James 6 years ago

      I have seen bigger snakes than that

    • profile image

      pablo 6 years ago

      I went to central America to visit family and friends. They do have a taste for man. The local Policia killed a Anaconda when I was there because the snake consumed a local fisherman. They had to cut open the snake to retreive his body. The fisherman looked like a chicken bone.

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      willy 6 years ago

      Just seing a picture of them scares me like crazy!!!

    • profile image

      iRINE pINK 6 years ago

      cONGS.

      gO AHEAD!

    • profile image

      Snakeman45 6 years ago

      Yes these big snakes are my entire life. that's al i do is explore these snakes and their habtit. i actually know a guy in the amazon who can book you trips to hunt andaconda likes these. and im gonna go get me one that beats the world record.!

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      Jazzielovezyuh 6 years ago

      wowza i have a python an its like 24ft long but i really want to see an anaconda :)))

    • profile image

      sbongumusa  6 years ago

      damit snakes are not kwl at all i hate them smtyms but anaconda wolw they are so amaizing

    • profile image

      richie 6 years ago

      i've held 1 b4!!

      i h8 them they eat people

    • profile image

      santu 7 years ago

      That's a detailed nice information on anaconda .Thanks for the information.

    • profile image

      shermar 7 years ago

      biggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg

    • profile image

      AnDUHconDUH! 7 years ago

      I own a tank that weighs 3000 lbs how many andacondas can you fit?

    • profile image

      tanny 7 years ago

      After seeing these images, i checked my back to make sure there was no snake behind me.

    • profile image

      regina sibayan 7 years ago

      wow i can't believe it!

    • profile image

      purple2000 7 years ago

      ooooh i want 2 know more!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      max 7 years ago

      awesome

    • profile image

      ymca 7 years ago

      very good information pictures too

    • profile image

      Avery 7 years ago

      So cool. I love anacondas. I want a pet one too

    • profile image

      chetan 7 years ago

      I LIKE SNKES VERYYYYYYYYYY MUCH AND want to make friendship with snakes

    • profile image

      kb 7 years ago

      i love snakes,pliz me all the info.please

    • profile image

      kahleo 7 years ago

      dang ,that thing huge dawg ,freaking huge

    • profile image

      Ghiggins549 7 years ago

      Crap, those guys are insane to knowingly go into the territory of those creatures to catch them. But worth it I bet.

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      Snakelover17 7 years ago

      ive always been in love with those giants snakes that's why im going whit 10 of my friends in one of the jungles where we can find so we can take pictures of them !!! ( ITS GONNA BE 5 LONG MONTHS OF FUN !!!!! )

    • profile image

      mAISARAH 7 years ago

      wow so big lolooooooooooooooooooo

    • profile image

      Kim 7 years ago

      Yo! They look so freaky...WOW!

    • profile image

      AnacondA 7 years ago

      no way man i don't want to see 'em yuyyyu yacks hate reptiles

    • profile image

      jungli 7 years ago

      I love this pretty creature if any one intrested to see them contact me i have got few

    • profile image

      biggest snake in world 7 years ago

      I am in LOVE with all animals and fascinated by them.All the best

    • profile image

      maryam 7 years ago

      thnaks a lot because of this page i am getting A++

    • profile image

      nanda 7 years ago

      oops............they are toooooooooooo scary.bt i wish i could see one.

    • profile image

      katie 8 years ago

      its pretty cool

    • profile image

      nikeya carter 8 years ago

      i just lov them

    • profile image

      deepa rana 8 years ago

      i rrrrrrrrreeeeeealllllllyyyyyyy enjoyed it though they r toooo scaryyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!! wel, information r very nice thanks

    • profile image

      abhishek 8 years ago

      oooooohhhhhh!!!!!!!!! they r so scary !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      Nijah Douglas 8 years ago

      very big huge i like them very scary and would not want to get kill by it

    • profile image

      VALERO 8 years ago

      HOLY SHIT!IT LOOKS LIKE DR. SUZY'S WORST NIGHTMARE..

    • AndyBaker profile image

      AndyBaker 8 years ago from UK

      I don't mind snakes at all, but I wouldn't want to get too close to a really big one.

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      scott 8 years ago

      tom hanks!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      rockstar 8 years ago

      that's preeeety spoooooooky

    • mulberry1 profile image

      mulberry1 8 years ago

      Ugh, adds yet another reason to "don't go in the water". shudder! Good information, I didn't realize they were really water snakes.

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      AMIGO.A 8 years ago

      THEY ARE FEARFUL BUT I WOULD LIKE TO SEE ONE ON MY OWN VISUAL EYES

    • profile image

      RICHARD  8 years ago

      W0W I WANT TO SEE 1 OF AN anaconda

    • profile image

      KARINA 8 years ago

      I WISH I COULD BE A SCIENTIST!!!! JUST THAT I DON'T WANNA GET BITTEN!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH

    • profile image

      seminole 8 years ago

      that is so grooss

    • NDBEES profile image

      NDBEES 8 years ago from DEVON

      I couldn't eat a whole one. I'm watching my figure.

    • profile image

      erica 8 years ago

      i am scared

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      maddie and anna  8 years ago

      awsome