The larger an animal is, the greater our fascination with it. When it comes to reptiles, out of all the monsters there are including, alligators, crocs and komodo dragons, the mighty anaconda still trumps them in the size stakes.
First off, lets not confuse length with size. The longest recorded snakes are not anacondas but Asian pythons which can have been caught measuring 11 to 12 meters. Anacondas can grow up to 8 – 10 meters long and as wide a man. They are very powerful and muscular, unlike some of their python relatives.
One of the reasons that the anaconda is so big and powerful is that it has evolved a way to kill it’s prey not by using venom, or even by biting. Their prey is literally squeezed to death by those powerful muscles and then eaten when freshly killed.
They are an alpha predator in the sense that they have no known predators in the wild. When they are young they can fall prey to hawks or other larger creatures, but a fully grown anaconda has no known threats apart form man.
Living in the Amazonian rain forests, the green anaconda belongs to a family of non venomous boas ( also called boa constrictors due to the nature of how they kill).
They live mainly in the water and are great swimmers. They occasionally come out of the water but on land they are sluggish movers. their diet consists of just about anything that it can catch that’s smaller that it. This may include fish, birds, other snakes, rabbits, reptiles and larger animals including deer, antelopes even jaguars.
There have even been a few reported cases where an anaconda has been found to have swallowed a whole man! this is where the reputation of the man-eater comes from. In reality however these cases are few and far between.
All boas including anacondas have a distinct method for killing. They wrap several coils of their body around the prey. Their massive size stops the prey escaping but they do not crush it to death as some people mistakenly believe.
Instead they sense the breathing patterns of their catch. When the prey exhales it breath, the anaconda tightens it grip slightly so that on the next breath, the animal is restricted in it’s breathing. This has the effect of not only stopping the respiratory function but also increasing the blood pressure. The animal either dies by asphyxiation or by heart failure.
After wards it is devoured in one piece. Depending on how big the prey is, this may take several days or even weeks.