Anaconda as a pet

By Snaketracks / April 20, 2020
Anaconda As A Pet
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Anaconda as a pet (care guide)

Anaconda is the common name of a group of four snakes found in tropical South America that enjoy a very well established reputation of deadly snakes even if they are nonvenomous and so their bite is not poisonous.

In most instances, if an Anaconda senses humans in the area, it will retreat in another direction. In fact, there are no known instances of anacondas eating  or even attacking people, besides  a couple of documented attacks on researchers that were fortunately rescued.

As unbelievable as it might sound, in 2014 someone tried having an Anaconda eat him. That year, the Discovery Channel put on a program called “Eaten Alive” which was all about a man, Paul Rosolie, who tried to be eaten by a Green Anaconda.

To make the story short, the anaconda wasn’t interested in eating the suited up Rosolie and instead tried to flee, even if he tried dousing himself in pigs’ blood.

The four recognized kinds of anaconda are:

  • Green anaconda (Eunectes murinus)
  • Yellow or Paraguayan anaconda (Eunectes notaeus)
  • Dark-spotted anaconda (Eunectes deschauenseei)
  • Beni or Bolivian anaconda  (Eunectes beniensis)

Quick Reference Section

They can be differentiated from one another genetically, but also based on their size and geographic range. The green anaconda is the biggest, as well as the heaviest snake in the world (and the second-longest).

When pet anacondas first became available in the hobby, the majority were wild imports. Besides the fact many of these anacondas had bad dispositions and carried parasites, a lack of knowledge at the time precipitated high mortality rates.

Husbandry evolved over time and proper veterinary care is now available. At present anaconda pets enjoy great survival rates and are available with breeders that successfully reproduce them in captivity.

Green Anaconda Care Sheet

Green Anaconda
Green Anaconda
  • Experience level:  Advanced
  • Common Name: Green Anaconda
  • Other names: common anaconda, common water boa,  water kaumudi, giant anaconda. In South America: yakumama, sucuri
  • Family: Boidae
  • Scientific Name: Eunectes murinus (Eunectes means “good swimmer” in Greek)
  • Average lifespan in the wild:10 years (Miller, et al., 2004; Shine, 1992)
  • Lifespan in captivity: up to 30 years (Miller, et al., 2004; Shine, 1992)
  • Average length: Female: 4.6 mt, Male: 3 mt 
  • Maximum length: up to 9 mt (30 ft)
  • Maximum Weight: 450 pounds (205 kilograms)
  • Risk Factor: Non-Venomous,  constrictor
  • Mating System: polyandrous
  • Egg incubation period: Anacondas are ovoviviparous snakes, giving birth to live individuals; gestation takes 7 months
  • Breeding interval: every other year
  • Clutch size: typically around 29 latches, though the number is fewer for smaller anacondas and higher for larger ones
  • Size at birth: more than 62 cm (24 inches) in length and grow rapidly, attaining almost 3 meters (10 feet) by age three.
  • Diet: carnivore (Anacondas are top predators in their habitat, and they often prey on large animals, including capybaras, white-tailed deer, and even large caimans -reptiles closely related to the alligator)
  • Predators: Anacondas are preyed by jaguars, large caimans and by other Anacondas. A wounded Anaconda can also fall prey to piranhas
  • Geographical Distribution: Green anacondas are found in the Brazilian Amazon basin, the Orinoco basin, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Trinidad, and the Guianas.

Green Anaconda Snake Facts

True to their name, Green Anacondas are greenish-brown, olive, or greenish-gray. Their sides are sometimes more yellow than green with egg-shaped spots with yellow centers.

Anacondas are generally stocky and muscular.

They are excellent in the water. However, they tend to keep their nostrils and eyes above water while submerged to breathe and see.

Anacondas hunt at night. They hunt by constricting their prey. They will even drown prey sometimes.

Like any other snake, they also swallow their prey whole.

After feeding, depending on how large the meal is, an Anaconda can go for a long time without having a meal. It could be weeks or even months as they use a lot of energy to digest.  As they are cold-blooded individuals, they will even try to find a warm place so that their metabolism speeds up to digest faster.

Green anacondas are apex predators, meaning that they are at the top of their food chain. However, sometimes going after large animals as jaguar and caiman can result in serious injuries or death.

Anacondas form breeding balls in which 2 to 12 males coil around one female and slowly wrestle for the chance to mate with her. Breeding balls can last for as long as four weeks.

Though the males may win by strength, sometimes the female — who is larger and stronger than the males — chooses who she wants.

After mating, females carry their embryos inside their bodies while they gestate for seven months. During this time, females do not feed, possibly because hunting carries the risk of harming the babies.

Even if they take care of the babies during pregnancy, they do not care for their newborns, who instinctively know how to survive on their own.

Interesting fact: In the early 20th century, President Theodore Roosevelt offered a $5000 reward for the capture of a Green Anaconda and its transportation to the New York Zoological Society (now known as the Wildlife Conservation Society).

Green Anaconda Snake Enclosure Size And Characteristics

Hatchlings measure 18-36 inches and can be accommodated in a 55-gallon aquarium equipped with 6-8 cage clips.  Of course, they will need increasingly larger quarters as they grow.

Large commercial enclosures will work for a time, but after 2-3 years a homemade cage or re-designed room will be necessary.

Security is a major concern, as all large constrictors are immensely powerful and expertly locate any weaknesses in their enclosures.

 Anacondas prefer water bowls to caves as hiding spots. You can build a hide box of course.

Cleaning

The huge volume of waste products produced by even moderately-sized individuals necessitates a floor drain in most cases.

Substrate

Newspapers, butcher paper, and washable terrarium liners work well for young snakes.

Larger animals are best kept in enclosures that can be scrubbed and hosed-out.

Do not use wood chips, as they can lodge in the mouth during feeding and cause infection-prone cuts.

Temperature

Anaconda enclosures should be maintained at 78-86 F and provided with a basking site of 95 F.

A temperature gradient is important to their health, and can only be effectively established in a large enclosure.

Water temperature is important, as that is where the Anaconda will spend most of its time.

Lighting

Heat pads or pig blankets may be located beneath the cage floor (do not place these within the cage, due to the risk of causing burns).

Red/black reptile night bulbs and ceramic heaters can be used to provide night-time heat.

A UVB light source is not necessary.

Accessories

Plastic plants floating on the water’s surface will provide them with security.

Snake feeding

Hatchlings can take adult mice or rat pups, and soon graduate to adult rats.

Rabbits are usually the least expensive option for moderately-sized to large Anacondas.

Other options for adults include guinea pigs, ducks, chickens, fish and suckling pigs.

Captive Anacondas sometimes exhibit very distinct food preferences (often duck) and refuse all but their favored prey.

A 10-foot-long individual can be expected to consume 100-150 pounds of food yearly.

Anacondas will tackle huge food items, but digestive disorders may result. Therefore, do not attempt to test your Anaconda’s eating capacity.

Vitamin/mineral supplements are not necessary.

Temperament

It should be kept in mind that snakes are not domesticated animals, and must never be handled carelessly; even calm snakes may react to odors or vibrations that people cannot sense.

Two well-experienced adults should always be on hand when specimens over 6 feet in length are fed, cleaned or moved.

Food should be offered (and uneaten food removed) with long-handled snake tongs after the snake has been maneuvered into a safe area with a snake hook.

Yellow or Paraguayan anaconda  care sheet

Yellow Anaconda
Yellow Anaconda (Paraguayan Anaconda)
  • Experience level: Moderate. While easier to manage than green anacondas, the yellow is still NOT a snake for the beginning horticulturist.
  • Common Name: Yellow anaconda
  • Other names: Paraguayan anaconda
  • Family: Boidae
  • Scientific Name: Eunectes notaeus
  • Lifespan in captivity: Yellow anacondas typically live 10-30 years in captivity.
  • Size: average length of 3.5-4.5 meters (11-14 feet).
  • Risk Factor: Non-Venomous,  constrictor
  • Geographical Distribution: Yellow anacondas live in Paraguay, southern Brazil, Bolivia, and northeastern Argentina, according to ADW.

Yellow Anaconda Snake Facts

Yellow anacondas have yellow, golden-tan, or yellow-green coloring with black or dark brown blotches, spots, streaks, and dorsal bands.

Each snake has a unique pattern of yellow and black scales on the bottom of its tail.  

Dark-spotted Anaconda Care Sheet

  • Experience level: Moderate. While easier to manage than green anacondas, the yellow is still NOT a snake for the beginning horticulturist
  • Common Name: Dark-spotted Anaconda
  • Family: Boidae
  • Scientific Name: Eunectes deschauenseei
  • Lifespan in wild & captivity: information not available
  • Size: average length of 3.5-4.5 meters (11-14 feet)
  • Risk Factor: Non-Venomous,  constrictor
  • Geographical Distribution: The dark-spotted anaconda lives in northern Brazil and French Guiana.

Dark-spotted Anaconda Snake Facts

  • Dark-spotted Anacondas are brown in color, with large dark spots scattered on its body. 
  • They are regarded as a fairly rare species and are much more uncommon than the Green and Yellow Anacondas.

Beni or Bolivian anaconda

Bolivian-Anaconda-Eunectes_beniensis
Bolivian Anaconda
  • Common Name:  Beni anaconda
  • Other names: Bolivian anaconda
  • Family: Boidae
  • Scientific Name: Eunectes beniensis
  • Size: 4 to 5 feet long
  • Risk Factor: Non-Venomous,  constrictor
  • Geographical Distribution: The Beni or Bolivian anaconda is found only in a small part of Bolivia.

Bolivian Anaconda Snake Facts

The Bolivian Anaconda was only discovered in 2002, so not much is known about it. In fact, it was long considered a hybrid of yellow and green anacondas until scientists determined they were their own species. 

It is even rarer than its Dark-Spotted uncle.

 Its color design is brown with black spots scattered across its body.

Hybrids

  • Hybrids from breeding green and yellow anacondas to one another also exist.

Conservation & Threats

Anacondas are not listed as endangered and their numbers appear to be more or less stable.

The Profauna (the Venezuelan Fish and Wildlife Service), the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Convention for the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) have funded the Green Anaconda Project to further understand potential threats to this species. (“UNEP-WCMC Species Database: CITES-Listed Species”, 2012; Rivas and Burghardt, 2001; Rivas and Owens, 2000)

However, they do face persecution by humans, even if their biggest threat is the loss of suitable habitat as tropical forests are felled for timber or agriculture.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has classified three anacondas among the “injurious species”: Green anaconda,  DeSchauensee’s Anaconda and Beni Anaconda after some Anaconda was found in the wild at the Everglades in South Florida, “putting at-risk native wildlife unprepared to defend itself against these giant and efficient predators,”  and therefore, the import and interstate trade of these snakes was banned.

The rule does not affect private ownership or purchase of these snakes, so as long as they’re not imported or moved across state lines.

Some believe that the above-listed anacondas could potentially become a huge ecological issue in the United States.

The state of Florida has had some concern for it, enough to have included photos of Green Anacondas in a study guide for the “Python Challenge” hunting contest.

The “Python Challenge” was an open-ended contest to hunt Burmese pythons in January 2013 whose purpose was the cut down on the invasive Burmese pythons in the area. They do this challenge every year now. More information available here.

Would An Anaconda Snake Make A Good Pet?

Anacondas do not make good pets for inexperienced keepers.  Besides the fact they get large posing handing challenges, they are constrictors, and their strength should be respected.

This is not a species for anyone under the age of 18 or for anyone who does not have a reasonable amount of experience working with large constrictors.

Green Anacondas, in particular, become very large and heavy and once mature, they are difficult and potentially unsafe for a single individual to care for in a one-on-one setting. Having a friend or family member willing to assist with when feeding and regular cage cleanings is a must.

On top of it, feeding them might be quite expensive.

If you are really set on owning an Anaconda,  you should consider the Yellow Anaconda, instead of a Green Anaconda. It is not an animal to be taken lightly but makes for a more manageable pet than the Green Anaconda.

As pets, captive-bred juvenile Anacondas are a better choice than adults, as juveniles have a greatly reduced probability of carrying parasites and foreign bacteria. Most importantly, they are the most likely individuals to become well-adjusted pets.

Last but not least, a keeper must have a solid understanding of husbandry requirements to successfully maintain an Anaconda for any length of time.

Where Could I Find An Anaconda To Purchase?

Yellow and Green Anacondas and Yellow/Green Hybrids are available at https://www.morphmarket.com/us/c/reptiles/boas/anacondas in the range of U$ 375 to 1650

So, are you going to get one? Or would you prefer to get a smaller snake like one from our Best Pet Snakes list.

Let us know in the comments below!

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