Big and heavy
The world’s heaviest snake is the green anaconda which can be found in the rainforests, swamps and marshes of South America. Although it is widely recognised that the articulated python can grow longer, the green anaconda can stake claim to the title of largest snake due to its girth and weight.
How big can it get?
In 1944 it was reported that a green anaconda exceeding 11 metres (37 feet) had been shot at the border of Venezuela and Colombia. Like many such reports, the information was a little sketchy and was never verified – the snake allegedly slithered away before being weighed. In 2009 though, a substantiated report told of a 5.5 metre green anaconda in Surinam, a small South American country. Whilst not as big, this is still considered a large snake.
What does it eat?
The largest of the anaconda family likes nothing better than a banquet of Amazonian treats including turtles, wild pigs, caiman and capybara.
How does it hunt?
This huge reptilian beast struggles to carry its own weight on land so most of its hunting is done from the waters of swamps and slow-moving streams. In this environment it can patiently ambush the meat feast above, particularly as high eyes and nasal openings allow it to almost completely submerge. As with other constrictor snakes it coils around and squeezes the life out of the hapless prey before swallowing it whole. A good meal can take weeks, or even months to digest.
How dangerous is it?
Human interaction with anacondas is sparse due to its preference for the swamps. Still, this gargantuan serpent could easily crush a human if circumstances called for it.
How many are left?
Anaconda numbers, whilst difficult to document, are fairly stable. Continued encroachment into the rainforests though may prove problematic.
When it comes to mating, a female anaconda will form a ball with a number of males. This ball will stay entwined for up to four weeks before the female leaves to incubate her offspring.