Anaconda or “Green Nconda” belongs to boa family and is one of the biggest existing snakes. Anaconda’s females are much bigger in size than males and have clearly marked sexual dimorphism. Anacondas are mainly olive-green with black spots all around their bodies. Anaconda’s head has clearly expressed orange-yellow stripes on both sides and is narrow for its body size. The eyes, located on the top of head, help anacondas observe the surroundings without coming out of water.
Anacondas’ major habitat is Latin America’s tropical flatlands. The anacondas are most frequently found in basins of Amazon River (Brazil), Orinoco River (Columbia) and Los Llanos (Venezuela) – vast tropical grassland plain. They are semi-aquatic animals, living partly on land and partly in water. Anacondas prefer plains, rainforests, savannas, freshwater areas as well as areas where the water is not very deep.
Anacondas are nocturnal meanwhile leading solitary lifestyle. The period of increased activity for anacondas is nighttime. Being water-dwelling reptiles, anacondas are fast in water while slow on land. Most of their lives they spend in water, staying under water for long periods of time. Anacondas are comparably passive at daytime heat and start moving at dusk, when the heat subsides. They often pass long distances very quickly, usually when the dry season reaches its highest point or when they look for mates.
Anaconda is an opportunistic apex predator, which means that it usually doesn’t have any general plan and take advantage of any chance to have a tasty meal. They usually feed on other reptiles, sheep, dogs, tapirs, fish, birds, wild pigs, deer, rodents as well as any kind of available prey that they are able to catch and swallow.
These anacondas are polyandrous animals, meaning that a female mates with more than one male while each male mates with only one female. Anacondas mate during the dry season, which is from March to May. Usually, the process of mating lasts up to several weeks. Females don’t eat at gestation period, lasting about seven months. For this reason, after mating, a female can eat the partner to go through this long period. Female anacondas are ovoviviparous. After incubation period, lasting 7 months, a female gives birth to up to 82 young (though the average number is 20-40). Newborn youngsters are completely independent: they don’t get any protection and care by their mother and have to be able to fend for themselves. Sexual maturity is reached at the age of about 3 or 4 years.
As always, major threats have to do with human activity. In this case, it’s trade of exotic species. Anacondas are included in Appendix II of CITES (Convention on Trade in International Species). Anacondas are hunted and killed for their skin having huge demand on the black market. They are persecuted also in human settlements as being a danger for humans and domestic animals. Anacondas are also threatened by illegal deforestation on account of carelessness of the local authorities. This brings anacondas to habitat loss even in protected areas.
Currently, anacondas’ population is not officially known. However, it’s not listed by IUCN as endangered species.
Being predators, anacondas feed upon a wide variety of vertebrate animals. Young anacondas, in turn, become prey for larger predators.