THE BEAUTIFUL QUEEN OF THE SNAKES
I cant wait to visit Amazon rain forest, because all my dreams about nature miracles are there. That ancient treasure of flora and fauna is one of a kind and I am sure my wild heart will be in peace, once when I reach that hidden universe of rich biodiversity and let my soul touch the untouchable horizon of our precious ecosystem.
Back in 1997, I was amazed by horror movie “Anaconda” and I promised myself that I will work more actively, once when I am grown up, against negative reputation of those wonderful serpents. As we get used o Hollywood scenery and settings of science, everything what could be used for selling movies will be abused and manipulated for better profits, at the end of the day. Nobody cares about truth and fact but about controversial, scandalous and deadly things. If you don’t have them, you need to produce them. Thats how American movie industry has created the illogical stories about sharks, spiders or snakes, turning them into enemies, with no real reason. The people don’t research themselves but accept the narration that is sold to them so they start believing that such animals have only one purpose on this Earth, to kill a human being. What if I tell you that anacondas aren’t even interested in people and don’t even think of us ?
The giant anaconda is, with no doubt, the largest known snake in the world, considering its weight and length. This proud snake queen could be even 9 meters(30 feet) long and obtain 227 kilograms(550 founds). This swimming reptile is also known to be considered as the part of boa family or common water boa. Its original name Eunectes murinus actually mean the good swimmer, in Greek language. This snake is more than only a good swimmer, this is rather kind of water dancer and professional diver. According to Bill Heyborne, a herpetologists and professor of biology at Utah University, there are more types of anaconda, in spite of fact that people only recognise and talk about the one, giant, green anaconda. This one is the largest but not the only one. There are also yellow or Paraguayan anaconda, the dark-spotted anaconda and the Beni or Bolivian anaconda. For experts, they are all different but for amateurs , they are all scary.
Our green anaconda is not any venomous snake which means that doesn’t kill with its toxins through the bite but with wrapping around the body of the prey and squeezing it till the last breath. You can imagine that our alluring green anaconda is able to open its jaws enough wide to swallow fish, caiman or even small deer or jaguar.
They live usually in tropical rivers and swamps that are located in rainforests region. Since they need heat and humidity, they are also often active in underwater ecosystem, when they are not somewhere hanging and relaxing. Even if they are in so called mediation phase, they are lurking and observing the habitat, ready to act, if needed.
What we do know so far about their character ? They are not just killers from dark jungles but rather very intelligent animals that learn fast about the environment they live in and they can easily adapt on the constant changes and challenges, as well. They are mostly passive during the day and in the early evening hours and night, they are getting into their hunting mood. As solitary snakes, they pick up their own territories, where they prey and live. Such a powerful constrictors like anacondas, they are also very smart and patient to wait for a food to come in the marked area so they can attack. For this purpose, they are almost invisible or camouflaged but ready to jump when the time is right. The majority of their food is caught in water, so not only the constricting but also drowning is a cause of victim´s death. The female anacondas sometimes use to eat male anacondas, based on some scientific studies. The anacondas belong to apex predators, which means they are at the top of their food chain. After their big meal, they can be satisfied for weeks, digesting that what has been eaten.
With the life span up to 10 years in wildness and up to even 30 years in captivity, the anaconda snakes come to sexual maturity when they are about 4 years old. Everything starts in spring when the females call attract males with specific scent trail. The males are visitors to the territory of the female in the breeding season.:“Like much of their lives, anaconda mating takes place in or near the water. Anacondas form breeding balls, giant snake swarms in which two to 12 males coil around one female and slowly wrestle for the chance to mate with her. Breeding balls can last for as long as four weeks. Though the males may win by strength, sometimes the female — who is larger and stronger than the males — choses who she wants. Females may mate with several males during the season.After mating, females carry their embryos inside their bodies while they gestate for seven months. During this time, females do not feed, possibly because hunting carries the risk of injury, which could harm the babies. Possibly because carrying babies requires such an energy investment, green anacondas mate every other year of even less often. “
The giant snakes give live birth and babies know how to try to survive because mother doesn’t care for them. It is some kind of natural process in which each party knowns what and how to do. Many doesn’t survive the first days but some do and the life goes on or the rainforest anaconda show goes on.
The good news is that our anacondas aren’t really endangered and their number is currently stable but they may be at risk, if humans interfere in natural circulations. The people make wrong when they go and kill anacondas because those animals have a great role in our environmental rules. Unfortunately, due to the human greed, they lose their habitats and they are being gone because of lack of place to live.
I believe we all need to work on breaking up the taboo about anacondas as man eaters. There are many urban legends about anacondas attacking and eating people but we should try to distinct some facts. The anacondas could eat some human that is up to 54 kg(120lbs) because they have some preys that could be in that category. There have been cases that anacondas ate the humans but normally, that is not happening due to the fact that people and this serpents don’t share the same habitat and they arent daily exposed to each others.
The anaconda itself would never attack human without being provoked or attacked by humans. The human beings aren’t in its food chain and they even don’t think of humans being their prey. It seems they are happier when they do not have any potential contact with human beings so they avoid them or try to. It was some kind of research where scientists have been in water and diving while anacondas have been also around. Nothing bad had happened. They avoided each others and the human-wildlife conflict has successfully escaped but that’s not always the case. The first step into solving this kind of misunderstanding is respecting mutual borders between us and wildlife world, that needs its privacy and distance from urban human needs. If we don’t handle it accordingly, we will cause more problems and serial incidents in the future with exaggeration of the urban myths beside the road.
The giant water boas are exceptional creatures that want their piece of peace deep in rain forest, without intention to jump into our busy life and smash our existence. All they want is that we give them right to live because this Planet belongs to animals as well as belongs to us.
One thought on “THE GREEN ANACONDA: COMMON WATER BOA”
Sarah’s pertinent and informative article reminded me of the misnomer’s origin: the word ‘anaconda’ is from Sri Lanka (i.e. from the Tamil ‘anaikondra’ – predator of elephants).
The anaconda is not indigenous to Sri Lanka, and it was a European historian, Pietro d’Anghiera (1457-1526), who confused the word: he had reviewed the reports of Portuguese explorers like Lourenço de Almeida (c.1480-1508) of Ceylon (Sri Lanka): the Portuguese had established a colonial settlement there in 1505.
The Indian python is the species Pietro d’Anghiera confused with the boa species of South America: between 1511-30, he was compiling accounts of Iberian, Italianate, etc., explorers (including Cristofo Colombo) in The Americas. Ostensibly, he took the Indian python species to be identical to the boa species of The Americas, as he was not a herpetologists or a zoologist, but a chronicler.
The British herpetologist Frank Wall (1868-1950), who served as a military physician in British Ceylon, first noticed the discrepancy, but the appellation of ‘anaconda’ had been so well-established by scientific journals, etc., that the name remained unchanged. Between 1600-1700, several renowned European scientists documented the boa species of The Americas and pythons of Ceylon (which kill prey in the same manner as boas), but the name was not altered.