Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary, Plettenberg Bay, Garden Route Adventures South Africa
Anaconda - Water Boa
Largest Snake in the World

We have an Anaconda at Jukani, but it's just a little baby - not a big fellow like the one in the photograph.

Anacondas live in the Amazon and Orinoco basins of tropical South America, and their habitat extends from the Andes, all the way east to Trinidad and part way up the Caribbean side of Central America. The animal moves much more easily swimming than on land. Like the crocodile, the anaconda has nostrils high on its snout so that it can swim with its head above water to breathe. The eyes are also placed high on its head so that it can watch for prey. The snake lies near the shore, waiting for its prey. When a deer, bird, or other prey comes to the water to drink, the anaconda quickly strikes, dragging its victim underwater to drown it. It then eats the unfortunate animal whole. They are nonvenomous. A good meal can last an anaconda for several weeks, during which it will usually lie around in the water content digesting its food.

The green species is larger than the yellow, dark-spotted and Bolivian species. Most weigh several hundred pounds (100 kg) but can reach (reliably) weights of 550 lbs (250 kg) but perhaps even to 1000 lbs (454 kg). They can reach lengths of 36 ft (11 m) and some claim much bigger. The females are generally larger than males. The reason that nobody can say for sure just how big they are is because the biggest snakes probably live deep in the South American jungle where it is terribly difficult to go looking for snakes (even for movie stars like Ice Cube and Jennifer Lopez). On top of that the murky water and good natural camouflage make observation more difficult. But as you can see by the photo, when the big snakes are observed by man they are sometimes caught, especially if they have overeaten and can't move very easily, which gives them more reason to stay deep in the jungle.

How do they reproduce?

Like all snakes, green anacondas reproduce sexually and use internal fertilization. Mating typically occurs between April and May. During breeding, the anacondas often cluster in a breeding ball that may consist of 2 - 12 males coiled around one female. The snakes can stay like this for two to four weeks. Green anacondas produce eggs, but the eggs hatch inside the female’s body. The young are then born as miniature snakes. Scientists call this type of birthing ovoviviparous; “ovo” for egg, “vivi” for live and “parous” for bith. Females can give birth from four to 82 young. The longer the female is, the longer the litter size will be. First time mothers have average litter sizes of 10 - 30 young.Did You Know?

Are anacondas dangerous?

To humans, not really: There are few documented attacks by green anacondas on humans. This may be because few people live in places where anacondas are common. There are many myths and stories that depict anacondas as ‘man-eaters’ but anacondas are not ‘man-eaters’ by nature. They are generalists and will take any prey they can subdue and swallow. Large anacondas can capture prey as big as adult capybaras (giant rodents), adult white-tailed deer and full-grown spectacled caimans. These are the same size as a small human (weighing up to 55 kg).

Are anacondas endangered?

Not really, but the anaconda belongs to the Boidae (Boa) family of snakes and these species are listed in the CITES II appendix. The CITES II appendix lists species which might become endangered if trade is not controlled. Trade in anacondas is prohibited in most South American countries although some are still exported for zoos, research or the pet industry. Few people take anacondas as pets because they grow quite big and are potentially aggressive, although anaconda skins are still traded illegally. These large snakes have very few natural predators because of their size. The main causes of population decline are poaching and habitat destruction.

The green anaconda is considered the largest snake in the world: it received this title because of its weight, rather than its length.

Sometimes called the "water boa", green anacondas are the most aquatic of all the boas: Eunectes, from their scientific name, means "good swimmer".

Anacondas are born with all the skills they need for survival, including the ability to swim.

Adult anacondas don't care for their young and, if given the opportunity, will even eat them.


scary mouth
scary mouth

what a huge snake!
what a huge snake!

anaconda snakes are huge
anaconda snakes are huge

Anacondas comprise four species of aquatic boa inhabiting the swamps and rivers of South America's dense tropical forests.
Anacondas comprise four species of aquatic boa inhabiting the swamps and rivers of South America's dense tropical forests.

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