Anacondas are the largest snakes on the planet. Though they might not be the longest snake, when it comes to weight and girth these snakes are the biggest. Because of this, they are one of the most feared snakes on the planet. On top of their intimidating size people often wonder if anacondas are venomous or poisonous?
All 4 species of anaconda are neither venomous nor poisonous. They are a type of constrictor. Instead of using venom to kill their prey, anacondas latch on to their prey with their teeth, coil themselves around it, and squeeze, constricting the blood flow of their prey till its heart stops.
If you want to know exactly how an anaconda kills its prey rather than with venom, or want to know whether or not an anaconda would be interested in biting and killing a whole human in the first place, then you’ll want to keep reading.
Anacondas Aren’t Venomous but Pack a Serious Bite
Anacondas are a type of snake known as constrictors. Most constrictors such as pythons and boas are non-venomous and non-poisonous, as they use constriction to kill their prey as opposed to venom. However, while anacondas may not have venom, their jaws still pack a nasty surprise: 4 rows of dozens of sharp teeth. Anacondas don’t use these teeth to chew, but instead, use them to latch on to their unfortunate prey.
The curved shape of their teeth makes it nearly impossible for the snake’s victims to escape, and the snake begins coiling itself around its victims immediately after or while it latches on with its teeth.
While it was thought for a long time that anacondas kill their victims through suffocation, the real cause of death for the majority of their victims is the constriction of the blood vessels and respiratory system within their bodies. While the snake squeezes, the prey animal’ heart stops being able to pump blood and pressure builds until the prey goes into cardiac arrest and dies, or dies from lack of blood to the brain.
After their prey is dead, anacondas swallow its carcass whole. The anaconda then carries the prey in its stomach while it digests it. These snakes can go for weeks or months without eating, and generally only attack those targets that seem large enough to be worth the for the snake to constrict and eat.
Do Anacondas Eat Humans?
While there have been reports of anacondas eating humans, no one has been able to verify them. However, it is possible for an anaconda to eat a human being if it wanted to and the opportunity presented itself. Anacondas, particularly the Green Anaconda, eat a wide variety of prey. Some of its larger prey includes animals such as deer that can be about as heavy as a small adult human.
In 2014, conservationist Paul Rosolie attempted to get eaten by a green anaconda while wearing a “snake-proof suit”, for purposes of gathering attention to the cause of Rainforest preservation. The anaconda did begin to constrict him after first running away and then being provoked, but the stunt was called off when it started to constrict Rosolie’s arm far too hard for comfort and when it began to fit its mouth over the top of his head and he was too scared to continue.
While Rosolie never finished being eaten by the snake, one can only assume that he would have been swallowed up had he continued, but of course, we can’t say anything for certain.
In general, since humans aren’t anacondas’ normal prey, they most would likely slither away or do nothing in the case of a human approaching. It would take some serious bad luck to be attacked and eaten by an unprovoked anaconda, especially considering that Paul Rosolie was covered in pigs’ blood when he went to be eaten by an anaconda, and it was still largely uninterested in eating him. (Source)
Where Do Anacondas Live?
If you are worrying about whether or not anacondas are venomous, it may be the case that you are worried about encountering one on your travels. So where do anacondas live, or in other words, where would you need to watch out for them?
Green anacondas live in northern South America, and they prefer to live in areas with slow-moving or still water. Sometimes they climb trees and hang down from them, causing some to mistake them for vines at first. Anacondas are most present in rain forests, which are their ultimate preferred habitat.
The yellow anaconda lives in southern South America. They also prefer largely aquatic habitats, especially wetland areas.
How Large are Anacondas?
Most people think of green anacondas when they hear the word anaconda, and green anacondas are indeed some of the largest snakes in the entire world. They get up to 30 feet in length and are the heaviest snakes in the world.
There have been reports of certain green anacondas growing to be even bigger, but these reports have not been confirmed. Anacondas are so famous for their huge size that they are probably what inspired legends of giant snakes in the jungles during the 1800s.
Yellow anacondas are also large snakes, but they are smaller than green anacondas. They rarely exceed 15 feet in length.
What Do Anacondas Normally Eat?
Anacondas eat a number of different prey of varying sizes, including:
- Large rodents
- Large birds
- Small mammals
- Other anacondas (sometimes)
Anaconda can eat relatively huge prey but sometimes choose not to if they think it will injure them to do so. They also possess the ability to regurgitate prey they find distasteful or undesirable. For more on this, I have a whole article on the Anaconda Diet and What they Eat Here!
Anacondas Are Non-Venomous Constrictors
Anacondas are non-venomous and non-poisonous snakes. That said, they can certainly pack a bite and are still one of the last snakes you would want to mess with. After all, these snakes are the largest on earth and are capable of eating humans if they wanted to.
Thankfully, this is not something that happens often. Instead, anacondas go after prey that they are used to such as capybara, large birds, and sometimes smaller anacondas and other snakes. The fear of these snakes has caused people to kill them with the idea of protecting their people and animals. Thankfully, the anaconda at this time is not an endangered species. However, we must do what we can to keep them protected.