October 19, 2007

Mass. Aquarium Houses Pregnant Anaconda

BOSTON -- Man-made rain and flooding, along with some extra food, were enough to convince the trio of anacondas at the New England Aquarium to breed in captivity for the first time. One of the aquarium's two female anacondas is confirmed pregnant by the lone male.

An ultrasound test Thursday afternoon failed to conclusively show whether the second female also is carrying a brood, but it's probably too early to rule it out, said spokesman Tony LaCasse. Further tests are planned.

The powerful constrictor snakes - that can be as long as 29 feet and weigh more than 500 pounds - typically live in the forested swamps and rivers of tropical South America.

The biologist running the aquarium's Amazon exhibit created similar conditions to encourage the snakes to breed, including switching on a man-made rain sprinkler and increasing water levels to mimic flood conditions, LaCasse said.

The plan worked.

"He had seen them copulate," LaCasse said. "He's also seen some puffiness, the same kind of increase in size in terms of the girth of the animal."

The other female anaconda expects a brood of young reptiles in December.