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Anaconda

The movie version of this largest of all snakes is awesome and terrifying! Viewers will attest that this frightening screen action confirms their worst nightmares about killer snakes. On this web site, we would like to share some direct information about the real snake. Still quite impressive as predators go and quite potentially capable of taking a full grown adult homosapiens for breakfast!

The Anaconda is in the boa family and the largest is the Eunectes murin us. Like most snakes it has suffered greatly from much exaggeration and scary folklore. It seems that the longest specimen on record is a 9+ meter snake at a little over 37 feet in strong squeezing length. Travelers' diaries and notes often refer to 40 foot individuals and references to 140 foot monsters have actually been made, but likely never confirmed. The name seems to be derived from the South American Indian word combinations referencing elephant and killer. Probably appropriate for the largest predator on that continent! Most people have real trouble conjuring up an actual 35+ foot thick bodied snake that weighs several hundred pounds! The movie may have helped our abilities to invent and embellish here.

The anaconda is also referred to as a water boa supported by its tendency to live in or near the swamps and back river systems. This is truly a constrictor! These specimens usually utilize a swift bite to hold their prey (or victim), followed by a coiling of a loop or two around the main body. Once these loops are in position, the snake will steadily constrict with incredible strength to suffocate the captive. It is the combination of sheer strength and unrelenting power that quickly replaces any breathing room. With each exhale of air, the lung slack is removed for any follow-up inhale! In moments, the prey is ready to consume. The larger specimens take on deer, pigs, caiman, fish, and larger prey. Of course, not all specimens are huge and each size gradient eats appropriately sized food, being able to swallow objects much larger in diameter than their own thickest section. Simply holding a victim under water until drowning occurs is another less exciting but effective technique used by the anaconda in daily living.

They actually tend to be nocturnal which adds even more to the mystique on a dark still night! Due to their sometimes unwieldy size, they appear sluggish on land or hanging in a tree but in water they are capable of surprising speed on the surface and underneath. Even with the huge size, they can stalk so stealthily that not a ripple is felt by a hapless victim until the water is churning as the killing grasp takes place! They often simply wait near the water on a tree limb and come raining down to catch animals as they come for necessary water.

The victim is seldom crushed although there is ample ability to do this. As with all snakes, the suffocated victim is swallowed whole and in one piece. Primarily the head is swallowed first as the limbs tend to fold conveniently in and smoothly move down the rippling muscles as swallowing occurs, compressing the prey with each surge forward. Very quickly, there is little outward evidence of a bump or object being present and a large proportionate meal may last for weeks. Like all snakes, this species has a rather slow digestive tract and fortunately for the predator's targets, hunting does not occur every day.

Anacondas are viviparous and thus give birth to live young. Sometimes as many as a hundred may be born but most often 20 to 30 babies around two feet in length are the result. Many fall prey to other predators in the food chain so that few will ever become the dominant top of the chain as adults.

Stories about enormous size and awesome man-eating qualities are exciting but not the usual. A skin of a freshly killed anaconda may stretch a full 30% in length, as in all snakes, while being tanned. This ability obviously lends support to the typical hunter's story of the dangers encountered! Most travelers who have witnessed an actual "top of the line" anaconda in action, though, will be joined by their friends in understandably easy exaggerations! The anaconda at full adulthood is truly a natural wonder and is easily one of the most impressive creatures alive.

Enjoy Anaconda ( the movie ) ! ! !

 
 
Authored by CONCISE COMMUNICATIONS. This page last updated on 05/26/97.
Copyright 1997 CONCISE COMMUNICATIONS & TNE, Inc. All rights reserved.
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