Snakes are such interesting reptiles that you can spend practically forever learning about them. There are over 3,000 species of snakes, and you can find them everywhere except a few countries. Even though people generally have a fear of snakes, many of them are small and harmless.
The anaconda is not one of those snakes. It’s larger than an adult human and stronger than many also. When you see an anaconda, you likely won’t want to walk up to it and hold it. Like many animals, the anaconda will leave humans alone if left alone, but for their prey, they’re a force unlike any other. There are many different modes of defense that the anaconda has, but is poison one of them?
What are Anacondas
Anaconda refers to the Eunectes genus, but many people assume it only refers to the green or common anaconda. This snake is the member of the boa family, Boidae, which is native to South America. South America is green anacondas the heaviest snake in the world. It has the greatest growth in proportion to its length of any snake in the world.
Anacondas come in many shapes, sizes, and colors. The green anaconda is usually an olive or grayish green color with egg-shaped black spots. The Bolivian Anaconda is similar, but it’s only found in a small region in Bolivia. There’s also the small or yellow or Paraguayan Anaconda that has spots or streaks that are brown and black against a yellow or greenish yellow background.
Anacondas live over vast areas of swamps and rivers in South America. This is a hot and humid region with a lot of foliage that gives them a habitat that they can hide in. The Anaconda likes to be near or inside water an\d it spends a large part of its time hiding in the murky waters. There are excellent swimmers and divers, which may come as a surprise to many people. There are eyes and nasal openings conveniently on the top of their head. This allows them to wait for prey while remaining hidden by the water.
Are Anacondas Poisonous
Many people assume anacondas are poisonous because of how large they are. In reality, anacondas are not poisonous. A lot of people associate snakes for being poisonous, and there are quite a few snakes that are venomous. An anaconda kills their prey differently. Even though anacondas are not poisonous, they’re still very dangerous. Many people are curious about whether anacondas can eat humans or if they consider them prey.
In reality, anacondas are not venomous because they don’t need the venom to kill their prey. Snakes that use venom usually bite their prey and follow its scent to wait for it to die. After it dies then they’ll decide to eat it. Anacondas are very strong and they do not need them to help them eat. They use different modes of defense to ensure that they can’t wrap their prey to eat them.
How Do Anacondas Catch Their Prey
Anacondas are known for eating very large diets. They have a diet that’s very vast, and it can include birds, fish, other reptiles or mammals. While that diet is very impressive, they’ve been known to consume the capybara, which is the largest rodent in the world, and the caiman, which is a type of alligator. Their size makes them even more terrifying and fascinating than many other snakes. Because of their size, they have to eat a lot, and if they want to minimize hunting, they eat larger prey.
While many snakes poison their prey to catch their meals, the Anaconda hunts very differently. Anacondas rely on constriction to suffocate their food. They hunt on land, but they prefer to be near bodies of water to accommodate their large bodies. They have special adaptations that allow them to survive while they’re hunting.
One adaptation is its sharp teeth and strong jaws. The shape of their teeth is very important while it’s capturing its prey. The teeth are small but they have curves and sharp edges. Once an animal is trapped in the anaconda’s jaw, it’s very impossible for it to escape without hurting itself. The sharp teeth and strong jaws help hold the animal in place while the snake coils its body around it.
The Anaconda has very stretchy ligaments and they can help the snake open its mouth wide enough to fit its food. Since they have very mobile ligaments, they can also swallow prey that’s larger than them, like the capybara or the Jaguar. An anaconda that eats a large prey can survive on one meal for weeks or even months.
The Anaconda can also track his food with his tongue. At the top of its mouth is a Jacobson’s organ, which senses the smell of the molecules in the air. If it’s interested in something that it smells, the Anaconda will flick its tongue to collect the scent in its mouth. It will help the snake locate its prey.
The camouflage on their body also helps them hide from predators. Colored spotting on an anaconda helps it blend into dark and muddy waters and dense, green foliage. The snake will wait stealthily for animals to come closer without being noticed. If an anaconda stays out of water for a long time, it can become infested with ticks so water is very important to it. Many times, anacondas use the water to their advantage and subdue its prey by drowning it since they can stay underwater for 10 minutes.
Defense and Predators
Anacondas are one of the largest snakes in the world but it still has predators that it must defend itself from. It has very few natural predators, and it has great ways of defending itself. They defend themselves from prey by staying hidden and moving quickly. They can move quickly in the water and coil around both large and small animals.
Because of its size and strength, even its predators will hesitate to attack it. A lot of the anacondas have weight over their predators too. Anacondas can be up to 550 pounds heavy, so they can use their weight against their predators while they’re being attacked.
The Jaguar is the natural predator of the Anaconda. It’s the largest mammal in South America and it can be up to 250 lbs. Jaguars have amazing swimming abilities and this means that it’s just as at home in the water as the Anaconda is. If a jaguar and counters an anaconda in its aquatic habitats, it will fight back in self-defense. It doesn’t really prey on the Anaconda for food because of its size and tenacity.
What the Jaguar does it take an anaconda usually bites their head, neck or throat. It has the strongest biting force of all cats around the world. There is up to 2,000 pounds of force in its jaw alone, but it will still be intimidated by the Anaconda’s size. Anacondas aren’t regularly the Jaguars prey mainly because there is much easier prey for them to pursue.
If the anacondas are very young, they are typically 2 to 3 feet long and they have much more predators than they would as an adult. Birds, jaguars, and other jungle cats will prey on the younger snakes because they’re an easy target. When they’re large enough to defer the predators themselves, many of these predators will fall away. Other predators of anacondas within their two years of life include crab-eating foxes, crested caracas, and tegu lizards.
Are Anacondas Dangerous to Humans
Many humans see an anaconda and are afraid, but truthfully, anacondas don’t want to attack humans. Humans are more dangerous for anacondas. Many humans are afraid of them because of their size. Also, anacondas are hunted and poached for their valuable skin that’s used to make purses, belts, boots and other leather bound goods. Many people kill anacondas regularly to protect livestock or themselves, sothe population is decreasing. Reports of anacondas attacking humans are very rare.
There is no evidence that an anaconda has killed and eaten human adults. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible, but it’s just very rare. For this to occur, the Anaconda would have to be the correct species. It would likely have to be the green anaconda and it would be large enough to fit the whole human inside of its body. Some people have claimed to see this happening or even tried to be swallowed by one. For now this is a mystery and just a myth. Even though they may not be able to swallow you whole, they are still very capable of killing you.
Even though anacondas are not poisonous, they’re still very impressive snakes. They’re a family of snakes that are very interesting and it’s very unlikely they all get to observe one in the wild.