- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Reptilia
- Order: Squamata
- Suborder: Serpentes
- Family: Boidae
- Genus: Eunectes
- Species: Eunectes deschauenseei, Eunectes notaeus, Eunectes beniensis, Eunectes murinus
Anacondas are native to the South American jungles of the Amazon basin. They are found in eastern Bolivia, southern Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. The rare dark spotted 'Eunectes deschauenseei' is found in northeastern Brazil, coastal French Guiana, and Guyana. They belong to the Boa Constrictor family. Anaconda habitat consists of rivers, lakes, and swamps. These are solitary creatures who prefer retreating in the jungles rather than confronting humans.
Anaconda is the largest snake in the world. It is about 18 to 35 feet long, and weighs more than 500 pounds. They can expand their bodies and jaws to accommodate prey that is much larger in size than themselves. They have a dull dark green color and large dark spots on the upper body. The green anaconda has its underbody covered with lighter spots. There are two longitudinal stripes on its head and has variable color. Smaller species of the snake are yellow in color. Their body is covered with smooth glistening scales.
Anaconda is not a venomous snake. It uses its non-poisonous fangs for getting a hold on its victim. They kill their prey by constriction by coiling around the body and squeezing. Every time the chest of the victim deflates by breathing out, the snake tightens the grip. Finally the prey dies either due to heart failure, asphyxiation, or due to the crushing impact. The snake then swallows the prey whole and the muscles inside the snake's body continue to crush the bones, making it easier to swallow the prey.
It feeds on aquatic animals as well as capybaras, deer, sheep, dogs, caimans, jaguars, goats, ponies, etc. Baby anacondas feed on smaller aquatic prey like frogs, fish, mice, and rats. Female anacondas are known to practice cannibalism on their smaller male counterparts, when no large prey is available. In water, they tend to hold on to the prey with their fangs and pull them into the water. They drown the prey and then consume it.
There is very little information available about their breeding cycle. It has been observed that in captivity, male anacondas are aroused by the scent of a female. During courtship, the male moves alongside the female and flicks his tongue over her head continuously. A female anaconda lays 20 to 100 eggs that are born early during the year. The baby anaconda is about 2 to 3 feet long.
Is it a Man Eater?
Many people believe that anacondas are man eaters. It is generally seen, they prefer retreating rather than confronting the biped intruders on its home turf. They will not stalk a human prey, but there are many instances where they have killed and hunted down humans. Anacondas are not obligate man-eaters and there are many interesting flavors around the jungle that tickle their taste buds. This is the reason, human population is still thriving around the river basins where these creatures hunt.
Anacondas are short-tempered snakes and one can easily anger them. Maybe this the reason, why they may attack humans, instead of slithering away. It is one of the many facts about anacondas that it moves about 1 mile per hour (1.6 km/hour) on dry land. This means humans are faster and can easily outrun these humongous predators. Anacondas have always been a part of folklore and serpentine myths, probably due to its unique mode of killing its prey and large size. Like all snakes they are mysterious creatures, who should be respected and left alone in their wild habitats living a life that they are used to.
Anacondas are not as fierce hunters as portrayed in the movies. They are creatures of the jungle, who follow jungle rules. People sometimes tend to overstep the jungle law and end up getting injured or becoming a meal.