A semi-aquatic snake, anacondas are found in tropical rainforests, and they’re known for their enormous girth. The anaconda is broken down into four species: green anaconda, yellow anaconda, dark-spotted anaconda and Bolivian anaconda. And if you get lucky enough to come close to these huge snakes, you’ll find that their massive size wasn’t underestimated.
Don’t worry though, these aren’t your normal garden snakes. Unless you’re in tropical South America or another tropical part of the world, you likely won’t cross paths with an anaconda. But if you do happen to see this snake, be warned: they can devour humans.
Table of Contents
- Physical Characteristics of the Anaconda
- 4 Anaconda Species
- Where Are Anacondas Located?
- Anaconda Habitat Information
- Information on Conservation
- 9 Fun Facts About Anacondas You Never Learned in School
Physical Characteristics of the Anaconda
What does an anaconda look like? You know they’re massive, but did you know that they’re thicker than any other snake in the boa family? They’re massive. The neck of the anaconda is thick, yet they have narrow heads that are large. But the head isn’t proportionate to the body.
The anaconda has adapted to living in the water, although it’s just semi-aquatic.
Unlike your eyes which are on your face, the snake has adapted to have eyes on the top of their head. Neat, right? Well, the reason for the change in eye position is that the snake needs to be able to see above the water. If the snake’s eyes weren’t on top of their head, they would have difficulty navigating through the waters.
Anacondas stay under the water, maintaining their stealth, while being able to see above the water. If you’re looking at the eyes, you’ll also notice that there is a black strip that runs all the way down to the anaconda’s jaw.
These snakes are fascinating. If you ever see a snake skull with the eye holes on top of the skull, chances are the snake has adapted to remain submerged in the water while still maintaining sights. Who knows, this may be an anaconda skull that you’re looking at.
An exotic species by every account, the anaconda also has some other fun and exciting characteristics I know you’ll love:
- Spurs: Females and males both have spurs, yet the male spurs are larger.
- Length: A surprising fact is that the females are longer than their male counterparts.
- Coloring: Each species will have its own color patterns, and this will change the way the snake looks obviously. But since these snakes slither through tropical rivers and make their way through rainforests, they have adapted to have a green, brown and yellow color that allows them to remain stealthy.
The female anaconda is the biggest snake in the world. Unverified accounts have the green anaconda weighing over 500 pounds and being as large as 29 feet, but the average specimen is often 12 feet in length. In either case, these snakes are massive. And there are accounts of anacondas eating humans – you’re no match for a snake of this size. Just imagine what the snake can do to livestock and other animals, too.
4 Anaconda Species
Anacondas are part of the boa family, and the anaconda can be divided up into four distinct species, as science knows them today:
1. Green Anacondas
Green anacondas are, well, green. And as you’ve read moments ago, these giant anacondas can span 29 – 30 feet at their maximum. Wow. If you come across the snake in the wild, you’ll quickly notice that the anaconda has:
- Olive, green-brown or greenish-gray coloring
- Egg-shaped spots on their bodies
When it comes to the length of the green anaconda, there is still so much debate in this area. A person doesn’t want to go out and try to stretch out a full-sized, wild anaconda that can easily kill them. Zookeepers and scientists also know that it’s potentially dangerous for the snake to be stretched out, too.
Dead snake skin is not a good idicator of the true length of this species. And when your heart is pounding because you’ve crossed paths with this anake, you’ll also find that your size estimate is inaccurate. Anacondas that have just eaten will look even bigger; a massive sight for even the bravest of people.
2. Yellow Anacondas
There’s much less information on the yellow anaconda species, and this is likely due to the green anaconda stealing the spotlight. The yellow anaconda will have coloring that is:
- Blotches, streaks, bands or spots that are black or dark brown
Yellow and black scales are found on the bottom of the tail in a unique pattern. One really interesting fact is that every yellow anaconda has a unique scale pattern on its tail. The average size of the yellow anaconda is still an impressive 9-feet.
3. Dark-spotted Anacondas
The dark-spotted species is much like the yellow anaconda, and this species will also have an average length of 9-feet. The main difference from this species and the yellow is that they have a different color and pattern.
This snake’s coloring is:
- Brown background
- Darker brown or black spots
4. Beni or Bolivian Anacondas
If you were looking for some new and interesting facts about the Bolivian anaconda, I am sorry to say that science still knows little about this snake. Thought to be a cross between a yellow and green anaconda, scientists know that this species is unique, but too little have been caught in the wild to know much more about them.
Where Are Anacondas Located?
The Anaconda range is impressive, and you’ll find them in:
- South America
- Brazil’s Amazon basin
Of course, instead of going out in the wild and trying to track down one of the world’s largest non-venomous snakes, you can just go to the zoo and see them in a safe environment.
Anaconda Habitat Information
Anacondas thrive in the heat and humidity, so when humans are scattering for their air conditioners and staying indoors, the anaconda is out and about enjoying life. Anacondas love the rainforest because of these climate conditions, but they’re also after something that can keep them hidden: thick foliage. While they will be seen on land on occasion, the anaconda very much prefers the water.
In fact, you’ll often see an anaconda bathing on branches hanging over murky waters and slow rivers so that they can quickly escape into the water when needed.
1. Behavioral Habits
Slow on land, these massive snakes can move quickly through the water and prefer to be out in the early evening and night hours. Adaptable by nature, these snakes are solitary, and they have been known to bury themselves in mud and remain dormant during the dry season.
A slow metabolism allots the anaconda this time to remain dormant. Studies also show that the green anaconda species often creates its own territories, which is respected by other species. When you’re this massive, it’s easy to stake your claim to land.
2. Dietary Habits
The stealth of darkness allows the non-venomous anaconda to remain hidden before a kill. The anaconda further conceals itself in dark, murky waters, and they are constricters since they don’t contain poison.
While many people thought this constriction broke bones and led to a painful death, new studies show this is inaccurate.
Instead, the hold of the snake is so tight that it will stop the blood flow to the brain causing the victim to go unconscious. But since the anaconda likes to remain in the water, they often drown their victim, too.
What does an anaconda eat?
- Younger anaconda feed on small prey, lizards, fish and rodents.
- Adult anaconda sink their anaconda teeth into large felines, including jaguars, capybara and have been known to eat male anacondas.
We should all be thankful female humans are not this ruthless in nature. Prey is swollowed whole thanks to the snake’s jaw, which is able to unhinge at the ligaments.
Green anacondas are akin to lions – they’re at the top of the food chain. Little gets in the way of these hungry snakes, but that doesn’t mean they don’t die from injuries either. A jaguar or larger animal that fights back has been known to cause injuries that are severe or even escape their demise by killing the anaconda. Weeks or months can pass by without the anaconda needing to feed again.
3. Lifespan and Reproduction
An interesting Anaconda fact that many people don’t know is that these large snakes will emit a scent from their tails. Well, the females emit the scent and the males will follow behind sticking out their tongues to get hold of the scent.
A truly once-in-a-lifetime viewing experience for humans occurs when male snakes follow the female snake and form into breeding balls around the female. The female may have 2 – 12 massive Anacondas wrap around her and wrestle for the chance to mate. These breeding balls are long-term, and they can last 4 weeks.
But even a male that wins by brute strength can lose to the choice of a female. Remember, females are much larger than their male counterparts. Females can also be fickle and mate with numerous males during a single mating season. Gestation lasts for 7 months, and the female will not eat during gestation.
Larger anacondas, such as the green anaconda, will have an average of 29 babies, while smaller anacondas will have fewer babies. Sexual maturity is reached between the age of 3 or 4, and these snakes will live for just 10 years out in the wild. When kept in captivity, an Anaconda can live as long as 30 years.
Anacondas are part of the Animalia Kingdom, Reptilia class, Squamata order and suborder of the serpente. They’re part of the Boidae family and belong to the genus eunectes.
Information on Conservation
Scientists note that the anaconda snake is not in danger, and the number of snakes in the wild allow for a stable population of anaconda. Even with the pet snake trade, the largest risk to the anaconda is humans killing them. Timber and agriculture industries are the biggest world factor threatening the anaconda.
Humans and Anacondas – Can They Eat Humans?
If you’re strolling through South Florida, there’s no fear of being eaten by an anaconda, but if you’re in the middle of the rainforest, there is always a chance. Humans can be eaten by an anaconda, and there have been reports of anacondas eating humans.
Studies have been done to see if an anaconda would eat a human, but the study failed when the participant freaked out and begged for help. An anaconda senses humans, and the study showed that the snake didn’t want to eat the person. There was a suit involved to protect the human, and it’s possible the snake detected this safety measure somehow.
But while an anaconda can eat humans, they’re more interested in other prey rather than a human that’s much smaller in size, or larger in size in some cases, than the prey they normally eat. There is no doubt about it – these snakes can kill you. They either don’t find humans to be tasty, or they have no interest in killing humans.
9 Fun Facts About Anacondas You Never Learned in School
People learn about Burmese pythons, southern African pythons, individual titanoboa vertebrae, yet modern education fails to teach us about the most impressive, massive snake on the planet: the Anaconda.
Sure, we’ve all heard popular songs make reference to this snake, but we’re looking for cold, hard facts. And 11 facts that will leave you with a greater respect and love for Anacondas are:
1. Live Births
Anacondas will carry their young for 7 months, and when they give birth, they give a live birth rather than lay eggs. The average Anaconda will give birth to 29 live babies.
2. Green Anacondas are the Heaviest Snakes in the World
Yup, the green Anaconda can weigh over 200 pounds on average, and the massive ones can weigh even more.
3. Anacondas Can Hold Their Breath
These snakes love water, and they can remain under water for 10 minutes. The ability to raise just their head above water to see with their eyes is also impressive.
4. Anacondas and Boas are Family
People often have a boa constrictor as a pet, and who knew, the Anaconda is also in the boa family.
5. Anacondas Eat Big Cats
Yup, Anacondas eat jaguars, and they also eat the 150-pound capybaras, the world’s largest rodent.
6. Anacondas have Teeth
An Anaconda has four rows of teeth, but they squeeze the life out of their prey rather than rip them apart with their teeth.
7. Anacondas Sometimes Eat Crocodiles
Remember when we mentioned that these snakes may be injured when feeding, well this will happen when you try and eat members of the crocodile family.
8. Females Sometimes Eat Males
Mating season brings out the worst in these snakes, and the females may get so angry that they eat their male counterparts in the process.
9. Anacondas Sidewind
Even though these snakes are the world’s largest, they will sometimes sidewind to move rapidly through the water.
Anacondas are a force of nature that will rival any animal on land and many by water. These snakes often don’t want any part of a human, but if you get too close, be prepared for the fight of your life.
Massive in size and seasoned killers, a human is no match for an Anaconda’s strength unless they bring weapons along.
If you see this snake out in the wild, look the other way and get out of there. Even if they don’t have a thirst for human blood, it doesn’t mean that you should wait around to see if they want to make a meal out of you.