Green anaconda, Eunectes murinus
The Eunectes murinus commonly known as the green anaconda is known for its great swimming and mice hunting. This non-venomous boa is found primarily in South America. Other locations include Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay. These locations are abundant in swamps, marshes, and slow-moving streams with tropical rainforests. The green anaconda is much more stealthy and sleek in the water which allows them to hunt much more efficiently there, rather than on land.
It is also the world’s heaviest and one of the longest snakes reaching up to 22 feet long with weights ranging from 66 to 150 pounds. It is an olive green with black blotches along the body. The head is narrow compared to the thickness of the body. The head has orange-yellow striping with the eyes set high so that the snake can see out of the water without exposing its entire body.
The green anaconda is nocturnal and hunts the banks of the water. It is a constrictor therefore after it snatches prey with its strong jaws it will wrap its body around the prey until it has died of suffocation. The prey consists of anything the snake can overpower and this includes fish, birds, mammals and other reptiles. Larger anacondas have been known to prey on large animals such as deer. Females have been known to eat a smaller male after mating, this is believed to be because of the need for high nutrition.
It is rare to find anacondas in groups unless it is mating season. The rainy season, April to May, is ideal for mating. The male must find the female using the pheromones that the female leaves a trail of or the airborne stimulant that a motionless female will release. It is not uncommon for one female to be found by multiple males; up to 12 males have been reported and are called “breeding balls.” The male(s) wrap around the female and attempt to engage in intercourse. This group can remain in a ball for up to 4 weeks with the males fighting each other for the chance to mate with the female. The strongest male is the victor and proceeds to use spurs to arouse the female by continuously scratching the female. Once the female is fully aroused, she will raise her reproductive region. The male will then coil his tail around the female creating and “embrace” while mating. This process occurs almost exclusively in water. Gestation last approximately 6 – 7 months. Anacondas are ovoviviparous, hatching eggs within the body, then give live birth to litters of 20 to 40 neonates (babies).
Image Caption: Green anaconda (Eunectes murinus). Credit: LA Dawson/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.5)