The dimensions that have earned the anaconda the title of king is its total body mass or its weight (the sheer physical bulk of it). The other snake that competes with the anaconda is the Asiatic Reticulated Python (Python reticulatus). The python holds the world's record for length of a snake, with the longest ever measured at 33 feet. Even though the longest python is longer than the record-holding anaconda, the girth of the anaconda is far bigger. Anacondas in the jungles of South America can grow as big around as a grown man. Big enough to swallow a grown man whole!
Anacondas in the wild spend most of their time hanging out in rivers hunting for their food. They are solitary creatures that are somewhat shy and not many of them are easily seen. They are very well camouflaged in the swamps and bogs in which they thrive. There are some historical reports of early European explorers of the South American jungles seeing giant anacondas up to 100 feet long and some of the native peoples of the South American jungle have reported seeing anacondas up to 50 feet long. No one has caught and measured an anaconda anywhere near that size. It is important to note that when a dead anacanda's hide or skin is laid out it can be stretched very easily, expanding to much longer lenths than the snake exhibited when alive. Reports of outsize anacondas that cannot be verified are usually due to distortions in perception, or a snake skin being disproportiantely stretched and inaccurately measured. People are generally really bad at estimating length, especially for larger snakes. In fact, the larger the snake, the larger the margin of error.
Anacondas like to hang out in rivers so it would be difficult to estimate the length of one seen swimming, without seeing the entire snake. It's the anaconda's ability to remain partly hidden in the water that makes it difficult to accurately find a specimen that exceeds the current world's record.
Anacondas are members of the boa constrictor family of snakes. That means that they kill their prey by coiling their large, powerful bodies around their victims and squeezing until their prey suffocates. Then the snake unhinges its jaw and swallows the victim whole. Although they are big and strong enough to eat people, they seldom do (but they have been known to). Anacondas are much more likely to eat aquatic creatures, such as fish. Occasionally they have been known to eat : caimans (a relative of the alligator), other snakes, deer, and even jaguars. Anacondas are rather slow-moving snakes, so they have to rely on stealth and the element of surprise to catch their unsuspecting prey.
Do Anacondas Bite?
Just about every species of snake on earth has teeth, but the anacondas' teeth are not used for chewing. Snakes' teeth are used for holding onto their prey, preventing them from escaping. Some snakes have venom in two specially designed, extra long teeth (called fangs) which they use to kill their prey. Anacondas have teeth, but they are not a venomous snake. They rely on their enormous size and power to subdue their victims. It is possible to be bitten by an anaconda, but the bite itself would not be fatal - unless you weren't able to escape it!
Snakes as Pets
For many people, snakes are a slithering, terrifying creature to be avoided at all costs, while others harbor a grim fascination or even fondness for them. Many people keep snakes as pets, including anacondas and reticulated pythons. Like any other pet, snakes can be a big responsibility that should be taken seriously. If you choose to keep a snake in captivity you must accept responsibility for its care and feeding, as well as preventing it from escaping into the wild.