Anaconda or “Green Nconda” belongs to the boa family and is one of the biggest existing snakes. Like all boas, it is a non-venomous constrictor. Anaconda’s females are much bigger in size than males and have clearly marked sexual dimorphism.
Anacondas are mainly olive-green with black spots all around their bodies. Anaconda’s head has clearly expressed orange-yellow stripes on both sides and is narrow for its body size. The eyes, located on the top of the head, help anacondas observe the surroundings without coming out of the water.
In this article, Pritish Kumar Halder discussed some knowledgeable points about Anaconda.
Anacondas’ major habitat is Latin America’s tropical flatlands. The anacondas are most frequently found in basins of the Amazon River (Brazil), Orinoco River (Columbia), and Los Llanos (Venezuela) – vast tropical grassland plain.
They are semi-aquatic animals, living partly on land and partly in the water. Anacondas prefer plains, rainforests, savannas, freshwater areas as well as areas where the water is not very deep.
Each of the four different species is slightly different from the next. Learn more about the individual species and their unique traits below.
Green Anaconda – This species is the best-known, and the largest, of the four species. The longest recorded individual was 17 ft. long, and weighed 215 lbs., but people have reported sightings of even larger snakes.
Yellow Anaconda – The yellow species comes in at a modest 12 ft. long. True to their name, their scales are yellow in color, with dark brown markings.
Dark-Spotted Anaconda – Researchers aren’t even sure how many animals are left in this population of snakes. These reptiles are quite rare and elusive. Habitat destruction threatens this species, but scientists aren’t quite sure how severe their decline is.
Bolivian Anaconda – Scientists originally mistook this species as a hybrid of the green and yellow species. More recently, they have separated this snake into its own species using genetic research.
Habits and Lifestyle
Anacondas are nocturnal creatures and lead a solitary lifestyle. Being water-dwelling reptiles, anacondas are fast in the water while slow on land. Most of their lives they spend in the water, staying underwater for long periods.
Anacondas are comparably passive in daytime heat and start moving at dusk when the heat subsides. They often pass long distances very quickly, usually when the dry season reaches its highest point or when they look for mates.
Diet and Nutrition
Anacondas are opportunistic apex predators, which means that they usually don’t have any general plan and take advantage of any chance to have a tasty meal.
They usually feed on other reptiles, sheep, dogs, tapirs, fish, birds, wild pigs, deer, and rodents as well as any kind of available prey that they are able to catch and swallow.
These anacondas are polyandrous animals, meaning that a female mates with more than one male while each male mates with only one female. Anacondas mate during the dry season, which is from March to May. Usually, the process of mating lasts up to several weeks. Females don’t eat during the gestation period, lasting about seven months. For this reason, after mating, a female can eat her partner to go through this long period.
Female anacondas are ovoviviparous. After the incubation period, lasting 7 months, a female gives birth to up to 82 young (though the average number is 20-40). Newborn youngsters are entirely independent: they don’t get any protection and care from their mother and have to be able to fend for themselves. Reproductive maturity is reached at the age of about 3 or 4 years.
As always, the major threats have to do with human activity. In this case, it’s the trade of exotic species. Anacondas are included in Appendix II of CITES (Convention on Trade in International Species).
Anacondas are hunted and killed for their skin having huge demand on the black market. They are also persecuted in human settlements as a danger to humans and domestic animals. Anacondas are also threatened by illegal deforestation on account of the carelessness of the local authorities. This brings anacondas to habitat loss even in protected areas.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the anaconda total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List.
Being predators, anacondas feed upon a wide variety of vertebrate animals. Young anacondas, in turn, become prey for larger predators.
Fun Facts for Kids
- The word “anaconda” has Tamil origins, coming from Tamil word “anaikolra”, meaning “elephant killer.” After the Spanish conquest of the area, settlers called anacondas “matatoros”, which means “bull killers.”
- After long periods in the water, anacondas are frequently seen hanging from trees to dry up.
- Anacondas don’t have scales in their cloacas. Their glands in this area smell like musk, which frighten tiny organisms, poisonous to them. So, this smell, most likely, protects anacondas’ cloacas from leeches and ticks.
- In Latin, the scientific name of anaconda sound like “eunectes murinus” and means “good swimmer”.
- Anacondas can do without air underwater for about ten minutes and then rise to the surface to get some air.
- An anaconda can be satisfied with only one meal over a long period of time, provided that the prey is large enough.