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Green anaconda

Eunectes murinus

Fast Facts

  • The cloaca area contains glands that emit a foul-smelling musk that is poisonous for small organisms. It may be a way of preventing ticks and leeches from attaching themselves to the cloaca.
  • They are considered the largest snake in the world because of their girth.
  • Females can have up to one hundred babies at one time.
  • The pattern of scales down by the tail are unique to each snake.
Green Anaconda with mouth open

range

Range

Tropical South America, northeast of the Andes

Habitat

Semi-aquatic and lives in thickly-vegetated swamps and flooded forests

Size

up to 19 feet long

Nutrition

Fish, birds, reptiles, and even small mammals; favorites include Caimans and Capybaras


Characteristics


They have black spots with yellow centers along the sides of the body, which is very muscular. The eyes and nostrils are found on top of their head, with two bold orange patches of color behind each eye. The pattern of scales under the body is unique to each snake, like a fingerprint.

Behavior


This snake is primarily nocturnal and most of its life is spent in the water. It is a very fast swimmer on the surface as well as under the water. It will often keep its whole body up to the head submerged until prey approaches. It can lie in wait for days, often waiting for prey to come to the water for a drink before lunging out with a fast ambush strike. If the first strike misses, however, they are much too heavy to pursue prey on land and must wait for the next opportunity.

Reproduction


Green anacondas reproduce sexually and fertilize inside the body. Courtship takes several months, usually happening during April and May. There are two ways a female will alert males that she is ready to mate. The first method is to leave a pheromone trail on the ground for the males to follow. The second is to release an airborne scent to attract the males. Many males will come and try to mate with her. They will hang on her en masse in a ball-like formation for up to four weeks until there is a winner. The winner is usually the strongest, but sometimes the female will make the selection herself and knock off the other suitors.

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