Every time you watch the movie Anaconda, do you wonder about the reality of these reptiles? Green anacondas which are one of the largest snakes in the world, are boa species that are found mainly in South America. They are non-poisonous reptiles that feed on their prey by constricting them. There are two known subspecies of green anacondas. In this article, we will discuss the facts regarding their habitat, diet, physical characteristics and other such features
Facts About Green Anaconda
Green anacondas are one of the largest snakes in the world, growing up to almost 29 feet in size and weighing almost 550 pounds when they are fully grown. The diameter of most fully grown green anacondas can be about 12 inches, with the females being larger in size as compared to the males. The common habitats of the green anacondas are in such remote areas that it is difficult to determine the actual size of these reptiles.
Recognizing Green Anacondas
The skin of a green anaconda is dark green in color with its back adorned with black oval patterns. Green anacondas also have black spots with a yellow center along the side of their body. Their skin is generally smooth and shiny. This coloring of their body is one of the adaptations that help them camouflage themselves in their surroundings. While they experience difficulty in moving on land, they move extremely fast in water. Both, their eyes and nasal passage are situated on the top of their heads. This body structure allows them to completely submerge themselves in water, while lying low to hunt for their prey. Another interesting fact that differentiates it from other reptiles is the pungent, acrid and extremely rotten smell that they emit. This smell helps keep other smaller and poisonous organisms away.
Green anacondas are typically found in areas that are swampy, marshy and have sluggish streams. Therefore, they are mainly found in tropical rain forests, especially in regions near the Amazon and the Orinoco. They are also found in many South American countries like Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Guiana, Trinidad and Brazil. One of the biggest reasons for the dramatic reduction in the number of these reptiles is the destruction of their habitat.
So, what do anacondas eat? Green anacondas that are primarily aquatic in nature, generally feed on aquatic and amphibious animals, including mammals, deer, caiman, birds, ducks, turtles, capybaras, crocodiles and fish. The larger animals are not consumed by green anacondas on a regular basis. In fact, their digestive system functions in such a manner, that larger the animal they consume, the more time they can spend resting. Green anacondas use the method of constriction in order to suffocate and kill their prey. One of the astonishing facts is that the females of the species are cannibalistic in nature. Breeding females need to subsist during their gestation period that lasts for almost seven months. This is believed to be the reason for the females preying on the smaller anaconda males.
The males reach sexual maturity at approximately 18 months and the females reach sexual maturity at 3 years which makes their behavior exceedingly disparate. Until the start of the mating season, these reptiles are mostly solitary in nature. The mating season usually takes place in April and May. The females lay down a trail for the males to follow. This they do by tracking the pheromones of the female anacondas. This tracking results in a situation in which many male green anacondas could find the same female which results in groups called the breeding balls. If many males track down the same female, then they may wrap around the female all together, in an attempt to copulate. This is actually a way in which the males wrestle with each other to win the female. The breeding balls could be formed for as long as a period of four weeks. Both the courtship and the mating of green anacondas occur in water. Once they mate, the gestation period, as mentioned earlier may last for almost seven months, with the female giving birth to a litter of almost 20 - 40 live offspring.
It is important to ensure proper care if the reptile is being bred in captivity. Though like other creatures of the reptilian family, anacondas too adapt very easily to changes in their surroundings and the climate. Most adaptations have to do with the availability of food for them and also the change in temperature as reptiles are ectothermic and need to depend on the environment for control of body temperature. Humidity also needs to be maintained as drastic changes in the humidity of the green anaconda habitat can alter the shedding cycle of the reptile. This change can affect green anacondas very badly and make them even more aggressive in captivity.
Green anacondas have been the focus of many popular films and novels. Portrayed as villains in many horror films like the Anaconda series, they have become a cult figure featuring on most people's list of terrifying creatures. With this article, we hope to have made these reptile slightly less terrifying.