You’ve likely heard of an anaconda before. Many people are scared of these snakes because of their large size and you’ve likely seen one while you were at a zoo or a reptile exhibit.
Anacondas are semi-aquatic snakes that are found in South America and they’re some of the largest snakes in the world. There are only four recognized species of the snake and they’re separated by genetics, size, and geographic range. There’s the green anaconda, the yellow or Paraguayan anaconda, the dark spotted anaconda, and the Bolivian anaconda. Most people are probably familiar with the green anaconda, which is the largest one of all four. This is the heaviest snake in the world and one of the longest snakes in the world.
Anacondas are more muscular than any other boas. They have thick necks but narrow heads, which gives them a very distinctive look. On their large heads, they have nostrils and eyes that allow them to see over water while they’re submerged in it. You’ve also probably recognized that they have a thick black stripe running from their eye to their jaw.
Anacondas scales are small and smooth and they’ll grow larger towards the end of their body. Their skin is soft and loose which allows them to handle a lot more water absorption than other snakes.
Green anacondas are the ones that people are most familiar with and they are true to their name. They’re greenish brown, olive, or a green gray. They have a black or brown egg- shaped spots in the middle of their body. Sometimes they have yellow bellies. The actual length of green anacondas are up for debate because they’re very difficult to measure. Even if you have one in captivity, it’s very hard to stretch them out and this could be potentially dangerous for the snake. People who see them in the wild are overcome with fear because of their length so many reports are exaggerated.
Also, the anacondas who have eaten will look a lot larger than they actually are, so the lengths are unknown. Zoos list the maximum length at 29 or 30 ft, but others believe they don’t grow much longer than 20 feet. The average size of a female Anaconda to be around 15 ft and the average size for males is around 9 feet, which is significantly smaller than a female because that’s how snakes commonly are. The weights are also unknown but the estimate is around 555 pounds according to National Geographic. The average should be around a hundred 250 lbs however.
All anacondas live in South America east of the Andes. You might find green anacondas in the Brazilian Amazon Basin, Colombia, Venezuela or Bolivia. The other anacondas you can find in Paraguay, Southern Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina.
How Long Do Anacondas LiveIn the wild, anacondas can live up to 10 years. In captivity, they live for up to thirty years. This large disparity is because in the wild they’re dealing with hunting, facing predators, and illnesses that go unchecked. In captivity where they’re taking care of and fed constantly, they can live longer without the threat of prey or illness. Even in captivity, their feeding, diet, and habitats are all crucial to ensuring that your anaconda lives the longest possible time.
Reproduction is a very important part of the anaconda’s life. In the spring females will leave their scent to emit a chemical that attracts males. They’ll stay in the same location during mating season while the males will travel the distances to find them.
Anacondas mating will take place in or near water because they’re semi-aquatic snakes. They form breeding balls with a giant snake swarm of two 2- 12 males. These males will coil around one female and wrestle for the chance to mate. These can last as long as four weeks and sometimes the female chooses who she wants. They can mate with several males during the season if they choose.
After mating, the female will carry the embryos inside their bodies for 7 months. They don’t feed during this time because hunting means they risk injury. Also carrying babies was such an energy investment and they don’t do it often so they want to make sure they have babies. Inside of their body, the embryos are attached to a yolk sac and they’re surrounded by membrane. When it’s time for them to be born, they’ll be pushed out and they’ll still be inside the membrane. They must break the membrane and the mothers do not care for them. They will instinctively know how to survive on their own without any help.
Females will usually have around 29 babies and the number will be lower depending on their health and size.
Feeding and Diet
Food in diet is very important to its lifespan. They’re powerful constrictors, which means in the wild they hunt for their prey by latching onto them and constricting them. They wait for them near rivers where the murky waters can hide them. They wait for their prey to come drink and then they attack. They hold on to them with their sharp teeth and then begin wrapping themselves around them.
Their squeezing overwhelms the circulatory system of the prey. Their blood cannot get to their brain, so the animal will die within a few seconds. The animals are usually constructed in water which means they’re drowned also. Anacondas will eat a variety of animals; small snakes may eat rodents, lizards and fish. The adult snakes will eat larger animals like capybaras or jaguars. Even sometimes eat the male Anacondas.
The Anaconda swallow their prey whole. They have a ligament on the side of their mandibles that allow them to open their mouths wide enough to get around large prey. They have stretchy skin and no sternum so their body will take the shape of their dinner. They’re apex predators which means they’re at the top of their food chain, but even going after large animals like jaguars can cause death or serious injuries. Once feeding they can go weeks or months without eating, depending on the size of their last meal.
Anacondas live in areas with vast river systems and swamps in South America. These regions are hot and humid and they can hide in all of the dense foliage. This allows them to hunt very well and it’s great for their color because they’ll blend in with everything else since it has a very greenish gray color. Their skin is made to spend a lot of time in this water because it’s meant to soak it up.
They’re very great swimmers because they’re semi-aquatic. Their eyes and nasal openings are even at the top of their head which allows them to exist in these waters comfortably because they can see and breathe without being too exposed. They lay themselves near the river or in tree branches that hang over the water. It’s awesome that they can quickly drop into the water if needed.
While that’s their habitat in the wild, in captivity it’s different. It’s very labor-intensive to have an enclosure for an anaconda. You need a terrarium (View on Amazon) that’s at least six feet long with some land and some water areas. The land area should be the most of the terrarium because that’s easy to keep clean. You’ll need a basking spot at one end and a cooler spot at the other end because your anaconda will need to regulate its temperature. You also need cypress mulch as a substrate but some barks can work for your snake.
You need a water basin to cover up one-third of the enclosure that isn’t land. It should give you an anaconda enough room to fully submerge into this. You also have to regulate the water temperature and keep it between 76 and 82 degrees Fahrenheit. The weight of the water and the damage to the land area should be considered because your anaconda will be making a mess inside of the enclosure.
What owners often forget is that they need to filter the water. They have very large excrements and the water will become dirty very quickly. Mechanical filtration is often the best choice and a system must be safely tucked away so that the anaconda won’t ruin it. You definitely have to consistently keep this up so that your snake remains healthy. Getting an enclosure without water for your anaconda isn’t suggested because they thrive in water.
Your anaconda in captivity will live much longer than they do in the wild, but you’ll need to make sure that you give them the proper care and environment to live a comfortable long life.