Green Anaconda, mysteries, myths and curiosities

Some popular legends and presumed local experiences tell of human victims fallen prey to this mammoth reptile

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Green Anaconda, mysteries, myths and curiosities

The green anaconda is a snake native to South America, and its geographical distribution extends east of the Andes, in countries such as Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, the island of Trinidad, up to the north of Paraguay.

Anacondas live in wetlands, swamps, and slow-flowing streams, primarily in the tropical rainforests of the Amazon and Orinoco basins. They are slow and clumsy animals on land, but can be stealthy and elegant in the water. Their eyes and nasal openings are on the top of their heads, allowing them to lurk just below the surface of the water and remain almost completely submerged, waiting for prey.

Thanks to popular legends and presumed local experiences of peoples living in the same territory as these reptiles, anacondas have earned a bad name, and are often interpreted in literature and horror films as colossal monsters capable of swallowing a human being.

adult; these traits, deliberately monstrous and exaggerated, are occasionally attributed to other species as well, such as the Burmese python, the reticulated python and the boa constrictor. Among the most popular of these films are the 1997 film Anaconda and its four sequels.

Some popular legends and presumed local experiences tell of human victims fallen prey to this mammoth reptile; although there is no proof in this regard, the veracity of these attacks is not to be considered improbable, although attributable only to the largest specimens.

Size presents a challenge to achieve breeding conditions in larger female anacondas. Although larger size offers the advantage of being able to have more offspring per brood, larger size limits the mating frequency of larger individuals, indicating that there is a point where the advantage of larger brood size may negate the female the ability to reproduce again.

For anacondas, this limit is estimated at about 6.7m in total length. This is consistent with findings from a review of the size at se*ual maturity and maximum size of several snakes from North America, which found maximum size to be between 1.5 and 2.5 at se*ual maturity.

The minimum size of anacondas to reproduce, in a survey of 780 individuals, is 2.1 m in length, indicating that the maximum size reached by anacondas following this model would be 5.3 m. However, most of the anacondas analyzed were caught in llanos, which are more accessible to humans and host smaller prey items, while rainforests, which are less explored and have more abundant prey items, may host larger snakes.