Anacondas are one of the largest snakes in the world. Their large size makes them cumbersome on land but they can move swiftly in the water.
Hollywood movies have shown anacondas to be aggressive man-eaters but this is not true. They like to be left alone and humans are not even on their menu.
Anacondas are capable of eating large animals such as capybaras, tapirs, and caimans. They use their exceptionally muscular bodies to squeeze their prey until it stops breathing. Their jaws stretch so that they can swallow their prey whole, which may take as long as 6 or 8 hours. After this, they will not need to eat again for months!
Activity 1 - The Digestive System of an Anaconda
An anaconda’s meal journeys through the esophagus to the stomach where the muscles churn and blend the food like teeth. Unlike many mammals that only keep their food in their stomach for a few hours to a day, the anaconda’s stomach continues to digest its meal for several days or even weeks depending on the size of the meal. From here the meal moves to the small intestine where digestives enzymes secreted from the pancreas, liver and gall bladder further break the food down into nutrients that are absorbed into the bloodstream. The food then passes into the large intestine, where the anaconda’s body begins to process the waste material from the meal. An anaconda is able to digest most of the animal it eats. The only parts remaining are hair and calcium from bone which are excreted in the form of pellets.
Draw the digestive system of a snake. Include in your diagram and label: esophagus, stomach, gall bladder, pancreas, liver, small intestine, large intestine, heart and rectum.
Activity 2 - The Heaviest, Largest and Longest
The green anaconda is the heaviest, largest and longest snake in the Amazon Rainforest. Green anacondas can grow to more than 9 m (30 feet), weigh more than 250 kilograms (550 pounds), and measure more than 30 centimetres (12 inches) in diameter.
How big is this really? Using a tape measure, mark out the length and width of a giant anaconda using the measurements above. Draw the outline of your giant anaconda with chalk on your driveway or sidewalk. Lie down and see how many of you are needed to make the length of this snake! Now weigh yourself. How many of you would be needed for the weight of your anaconda? After, draw a pattern and colour in your anaconda!
Activity 3 - False Facts
There are so many myths (facts that aren’t true) that have been invented by people who are fearful of snakes. Below are some myths about snakes. Research and write a paragraph debunking two of these myths.
- Snakes are slimy
- Snakes are mostly all tail
- Snakes are deaf
- Snakes are dangerous
Activity 4 - Should We Value Snakes?
Snakes have ecological value. They keep the animal population in balance and the venom of many snakes is used to create medicines that help people. What do you think would happen if snakes were taken out of the environment?
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO BECOME AN EARTH PROTECTOR?
If you see a snake, let it be! Do not hurt it or remove it. It is doing its job of eating species that we consider to be pests, such as slugs and rats. Remember, most snakes are harmless and venomous snakes only bite if they are feeling threatened. Learning to live in harmony and respect wildlife is an intention we should all set for ourselves.