While Australia is generally known to be home to the biggest and scariest animals on earth, the world’s largest snake actually lives in South America. The ‘Green Anaconda’ can get up to nine (!) meters long and weighs up to 230kg (550 pounds). That’s more than two fully grown men together! The semiaquatic snake lives in the tropical regions of the Amazon as it likes to be in or at least near water.
But there’s so much more to know about the ‘Queen of the Rain Forest’, so check out our five fun (and mildly intimidating) facts about anacondas below!
1. Fancy a swimming contest?
The anaconda’s scientific name is ‘Eunectes murinus’, which is derived from the Greek meaning ‘good swimmer’. That says it all, doesn’t it? While the snake can get its speed up to 8 km/h on land, it is twice as fast (16 km/h) under water. In fact, the anaconda can also hold its breath for up to 10 minutes while being below the water surface, which proves them to be pretty good divers.
They mostly hunt prey from within the waters, since anacondas have their eyes and nasal openings on top of their head. That way, they can easily sit and wait for prey while staying hidden underwater. Sounds almost as simple as Uber Eats, right?
2. Anaconda vs. human
Most humans are pretty scared of snakes in general and anacondas specifically, probably due to their enormous strength and size. However, there has not been a single verified report yet of an anaconda eating a human for breakfast! While they would definitely be capable to do so (considering anacondas also feed on crocodiles, deer, and even jaguars, swallowing them as a whole), humans are not part of anacondas’ meal plan.
In fact, humans jeopardize them just as much as the other way around, if not more. Humans are the snake’s predator number one: They kill the boa species just out of dislike, and poachers commonly hunt them illegally for their skin which they then sell for big bucks as part of unauthorized pet trade.
3. The largest snake in the world
While the reticulated python beats the anaconda to first place in the run for ‘world’s longest snake’, the anaconda is definitely the heaviest one with up to 230kg (550 pounds)! That’s definitely not the type of snake you would like to wrap around your neck for a dare…
4. Who runs the world? Girls!
As just mentioned, anacondas are pretty very big snakes in general. But the females are even bigger than the males! Not only are they a fair bit longer, but also stronger than their male conspecifics. The green anaconda’s sexual dimorphism (the difference in apparel between two sexes of the same species) is the biggest size difference known amongst vertebrates in the entire world! To be specific, the average female anaconda is around 4.5 m (15 feet) long, whereas the average size of a male is around 2.7 m (9 feet).
5. No venom – no problem?
Not quite… Since anacondas are part of the family of constrictors, they are not venomous and hence won’t kill their prey through bites. Instead, they wrap their massive muscular bodies around their prey and squeeze until their victim stops breathing. An anaconda’s jaw is super flexible as it is attached to stretchy ligaments. This allows these carnivores to swallow their prey as a whole. As this takes a looong time to digest, anacondas actually only eat every other month!
Watch this video to see an anaconda hunting down a capybara, the world’s largest rodent.
Of course, if you’re visiting the Amazon, you don’t need to catch your own prey like the anaconda…you’ll find some of South America’s most unique cuisine there though!
But don’t let these facts about anacondas hold you back from discovering the beautiful rain forests of South America! As said before, humans are not on the menu for anacondas – so don’t worry about that.
If you are interested in exploring the anaconda’s natural habitat, have a look at our tours and join us in South America. Travel along the Amazon River with a small ship expedition cruise and soak up the region’s biodiversity over several days of cruising!
Also, check out our guide to South America for further inspiration!