Steve's Herpetological Blog

An insight into the life of Steve, his research and the many books he reads


#SteveReviews: Anaconda – Silent Killer

Few species of snake conjure up nightmarish images like the anaconda, known for it’s large size and potential human-eating behaviour. However these preconceived notions are not founded in any truth, which will hopefully be highlighted in a review I’ve authored with my good friend Ollie Thomas (when it gets published). With this in mind, I decided to watch one of the many natural history documentaries that focusses on these infamous snakes. That’s where Anaconda: Silent Killer comes in, a documentary shot in Guyana and released in 2014 which helps to provide quite a balanced view of green anacondas that also helps to break down any stigma surrounding them. Just ignore the fact that the title card features a Burmese python and not a green anaconda – this thing usually happens with large snakes (well, most snakes) for some reason.

Despite their size, they are quite vulnerable. They’re not the most mobile when it comes to moving around on land and can easily be targetted by predators such as felids. Their massive body is one of their biggest weaknesses as it relies on water to help support it, otherwise the snakes are slow and sluggish as they don’t have the muscle to move such bulk. Just think of how big the biggest whales are compared to elephants, a similar thing applies here. Water helps to support the weight of whales allowing them to grow to sizes that are pretty much impossible on land. This association makes anacondas vulnerable during droughts when they are forced to seek out new sources of water, at which time they may be crushed by their own weight.

I’m impressed with the information presented in Anaconda: Silent Killer including the predators that anacondas may face (such as caiman). There is also a nice explanation of the Jacobson’s organ which for those of you that don’t know is the chemoreception organ that allow snakes (and lizards) to smell using their tongue. Who knew that anacondas could climb trees? I remember the first time I saw some footage, it blew me away. Anaconda: Silent Killer also features some great ecological footage including that of other snake species that are found in the same environments of anacondas.

Anaconda: Silent Killer is a documentary that highlights these animals are clever, caring and far removed from the dangerous swamp monster that so many people envision them to be.

Thankfully the full documentary is on YouTube, so enjoy!

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