Senckenberg Museum exhibit of a capybara being swallowed
Eunectes murinus (derived from the Greek meaning "good swimmer" and the Latin "murinus" translated into "he who predates on mice") is a non-venomous boa species found in South America. It is the most massive of all known snake species. Two subspecies are currently recognized, including the nominate subspecies described here. The term "anaconda" (without any further description) often refers to this species, though the term could also apply to several other members of the genus.
The Green Anaconda is almost the world's longest snake reaching 6–7 m (19.8–23 ft) long, surpassed only by the reticulated python (Python reticulatus). Reports of anacondas 35-40 feet also exist but such claims need to be regarded with caution as no specimens of such lengths have ever been deposited in a museum and hard evidence is required. There is a $50,000 cash reward for anyone that can catch an anaconda 30 feet or longer, but the prize hasn't been claimed yet. Although the reticulated python is longer, the anaconda is the heaviest snake. The longest (and heaviest) scientifically recorded specimen was a female measuring 521 cm in length and weighing 97.5 kg.
The color pattern consists of olive green background overlaid with black blotches along the length of the body. The head is narrow compared to the body, usually with distinctive orange-yellow striping on either side. The eyes are set high on the head, allowing the snake to see out of the water while swimming without exposing its body.
Anaconda, common anaconda, water boa, green anaconda.
Local names in South America include the Spanish term "matatoro," meaning "bull killer," and the Native American terms sucuri and "yakumama" in the Peruvian region of the Amazon, which means "mother of the water" in the language of the Amazonian Yakurunas or "water people". In Trinidad, it has been traditionally referred to as the huille or huilla (pronounced wheel or wheela).
Found in South America in countries east of the Andes, including Colombia, Venezuela, the Guianas, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and on the island of Trinidad. The type locality given is "America".
The primarily nocturnal anaconda species tend to spend most of its life in or around water. Anacondas are also sometimes known as the “Water Boa”; they spend more time in water than any of the boas. Because of their large size, they appear rather slow and sluggish when traveling on land. Completely the opposite in water, however, anacondas are known to have the potential to reach high speeds in all depths of water. They tend to float atop the surface of the water with the snout barely poking out above the surface. When prey passes by or stops to drink, a hungry anaconda will snatch it with its jaws (without eating or swallowing it) and coil around it with its body. The snake will then constrict until it has successfully suffocated the prey.
Primarily aquatic, they eat a wide variety of prey, almost anything they can manage to overpower, including fish, birds, a variety of mammals, and other reptiles. Particularly large anacondas may even consume large prey such as tapir, deer, capybara,jaguars,black caiman,and crocodiles,but such large meals are not regularly consumed. There are many local stories and legends regarding the anaconda as a man-eater, but there is very little evidence to support any such activity. They employ constriction to subdue their prey. Cannibalism among green anacondas is also known, most recorded cases involving a larger female consuming a smaller male. Scientists cite several possible reasons for this, including the dramatic sexual dimorphism in the species and the possibility that female anacondas require additional food intake after breeding to sustain their long gestation period and the male simply being an opportunistic carnivore item, but the exact reason is not understood.