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Are Anacondas Poisonous? What You Need to Know!

Oliver Jones

The anaconda is found in the lowlands area of many South American countries. This semi-aquatic snake can be green, yellow, or dark-spotted, and lurks in slow-moving water, waiting for prey to walk or swim by. These snakes can grow up to 30 feet long in the wild, can reach diameters of up to 12 inches, and can weigh up to 550 pounds. These predators can be found in rainforests, tropical savannas, and grasslands. Read on to learn about anacondas and whether they are poisonous.

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Anacondas: Poisonous or Venomous?

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Image Credit: Hans Brexmeier, Pixabay

Anacondas are neither poisonous nor venomous. Snakes as a species are not poisonous as you must ingest a toxin for something to be considered a poison. Snakes can, however, be venomous depending on the species because they can inject venom into their prey with their teeth to incapacitate the prey. Anacondas have curved teeth to incapacitate prey, but they do not inject any venom as part of the killing process.

How Do Anacondas Kill Their Prey?

Anacondas lurk in the water waiting for a tasty morsel to wander by their hiding place. When it senses prey, it lurches forward, ambushing the unsuspecting animal. They then use their curved teeth to bite their victim and hold it securely, but they don’t inject venom.

Instead, the anacondas hold their prey with their teeth while they wrap their body around it and slowly constrict their bodies to suffocate the prey. The more the prey struggles, the tighter anacondas constrict. The constricting usually causes death due to respiratory arrest, but the prey can also drown because many anacondas pull their would-be meals into nearby water. After the prey dies, the snakes release their coils and then ingest the body headfirst, which helps to avoid issues with eating the limbs of the victim.

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Where Do Anacondas Hunt?

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Image Credit: SeaReeds Pixabay

Anacondas also hunt on savanna and it should be noted that animals may run across anacondas on dry savanna lands. Savannas are seasonally wet which makes them the perfect place for the water-loving anaconda. When the savanna dries out though, they bury themselves in mud and enter a state of dormancy. When the waters come back, the anaconda awakes, hungry for prey after its period of dormancy.

What Kind of Prey Do Anacondas Eat?

Anacondas eat a variety of terrestrial and aquatic prey, including reptiles, birds, mammals, and more. These large snakes can eat anywhere from 14% to 50% of their body mass and are likely to go after large prey.

Here is a list of some of the types of animals the anaconda is likely to eat:

  • Capybaras (Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris)
  • Wattled jacanas (Jacana jacana)
  • Red side-necked turtles (Rhinemys rufipes)
  • Collared peccaries (Pecari tajacu)
  • Red-rumped agoutis (Dasyprocta leporine)
  • Broad-snouted caimans (Caiman latirostris)
  • Northern pudús Pudu mephistophiles
  • South American tapirs (Tapirus terrestris)

Do Anacondas Eat Humans?

While the anaconda is a snake known to eat large prey, there are no substantiated reports of them killing humans. These snakes are believed to be large enough to eat humans, but the belief is that instances of anacondas attacking humans are rare because of the low human population in the areas where anacondas live.

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Conclusion

Anacondas are one of the largest snakes in the world due to their size and they use it to their average when hunting for their meals. They don’t inject their victims with venom, but rather use their curved teeth to hold their prey in place while they constrict their bodies around their victims. While popular films suggest that anacondas are deadly to humans, you’ll likely not need to worry about being one’s dinner unless you wander into the rainforests of South America.


Featured Image Credit: Blende12, Pixabay

Oliver Jones

Oliver (Ollie) Jones - A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master's degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.