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What Is an Anaconda?

The anaconda is mostly found in the Amazon rain forest.
Deer are one animal consumed by anacondas.
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  • Written By: Alyssa Simon
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  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2014
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An anaconda is a large, non-poisonous snake. It lives mainly in the South American tropical rain forest known as the Amazon. It lives by rivers and lakes and eats animals surrounding the waters, such as frogs and birds. It will also eat wild pigs, deer and even jungle cats like jaguars. Anacondas are members of the boa constrictor snake family.

Green anacondas are the most common type of anaconda snake. Their scientific name is eunectes murinus. Eunectes is Greek for "good swimmer" and murinus means "a predator of mice" in Latin. It is also known as a water boa.

The scales of this snake are usually greenish-brown with black spots along the back and white spots on the sides. Its nostrils are on top of the front part of its head so it can breathe in the water. An anaconda, however, uses its tongue to smell.

The anaconda is considered the heaviest snake in the world. It can grow to over half a ton (227 kg). The females are often quite larger than the males. The largest anaconda ever recorded was 28-feet (8.53 meters) long and 44-inches (1.12 meters) around. An average one grows to about ten feet (3.05 meters).

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The anaconda kills by coiling its body around its prey. It can wait in the water for an unsuspecting animal or drop on it from a tree. The snakes will squeeze tighter every time their victim exhales until it eventually dies. Then the snake will swallow its food whole by unhinging its jaw. Adults have no predators, but baby anacondas are threatened by birds and larger reptiles like crocodiles.

The anaconda's mating season is in April and May. When anacondas mate, several males will form what is known as a breeding ball around one female. They will immobilize the female and compete with each other to breed with her. The mating competition can last several weeks.

An anaconda gives birth to live young. A baby snake will form inside an egg inside its mother, but the egg is retained inside the adult female's body. The young are about 2-feet (0.6 meters) long at birth and are immediately independent. The mother does not stay around to care for her young.

Anacondas can live about 10 years in the wild. Their life span in captivity is considerably longer. Anacondas are not considered an endangered species. They are affected by the gradual loss of rain forest land, which is their habitat.

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bigjim
Post 4

I know that anacondas are not as common as pets compared to pythons, but it is at least possible that there are some loose in the Everglades now. So many people have turned their pet snakes loose out there when they got too big to feed or handle, that there is a big problem with wild constrictors. People run across them all the time.

I think for now, if I ever go down there to see the Everglades I'll just stay in the boat. I like to delude myself into thinking I'm at the top of the food chain. Between alligators, cottonmouths, and anacondas, I think I'll leave well enough alone.

Nepal2016
Post 3

I think it's funny that a lot of people learned about the anaconda through that godawful movie with Ice Cube and Jennifer Lopez. I have been watching and reading everything I could find about them for years. They are the king of predators, at least as far as constrictor snakes go.

I saw a special on TV where they captured an anaconda in a water-filled cave in South America, and it took about 12 or 15 people to grab this thing and get it penned up. It bit one of them, and he was bleeding like a stuck pig. Fortunately, it could not get its coils around him.

KLR650
Post 2

I have seen some big pythons, including the massive reticulated python that they have in the Memphis Zoo. The fact that an anaconda is even bigger than that is crazy to me. I can't imagine being anywhere that they are, especially in water. If they were to grab a hold of you, there really isn't much you could do.

I have heard that anacondas eat pretty much anything of any size in their natural habitat, up to a cow in some cases. I don't think a person would be too much trouble for them.

tolleranza
Post 1

This is one of those natural phenomenon that I classify as a must-see. I saw an Anaconda at the zoo when I was in middle school and I can still remember my amazement.

It is just one of those animals that is so incredible looking that you cannot look away. Although I could imagine that if you have even a slight fear of snakes, seeing would even behind a glass enclosure would be enough to frighten, so do be wary of that.

The first thing I thought of when I read that anacondas were non-poisonous was - of course they're not - they are so big they don't need to be! I always imagined that they were not too many predators daring to prey on anacondas and this article confirmed my suspicions.

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