Guest post by Adrian Walker, “The Snake Whisperer”
It’s widely known in Iquitos that a prize of $1M U.S awaits the person or people who can capture a live Anaconda longer than 10M. The prize money has been available for many years now and never been claimed. This article takes a look at the chances of such a snake ever being caught or even existing.
Firstly the largest Anaconda ever properly measured came in just below 28 feet or just under 9M, whereas the world’s longest snake is the Asiatic Reticulated Python with body length of 33 feet or very close to 10M. The Python however was considerably lighter than the Anaconda which was estimated to weigh over 500 pounds.
Frequent reports have reached my ears of sightings of Anacondas estimated to be in excess of the magical 10M mark. These I tend to dismiss as accurately measuring a snake in the water is nigh impossible and human exaggeration of size comes strongly into play. Having worked with snakes for many years I am well aware of how quickly they grow in the presence of an alarmed observer.
Snake skins also stretch and can be stretched considerably after death which is the primary reason for the demand that to claim the prize the snake must be delivered alive. This merely reduces the opportunity of deception to absolute zero.
Now let’s take a look at the probability of such a snake still existing somewhere in the Amazon jungle. 10M is a lot of serpent and would require an unusually long life, excellent feeding opportunities and critically, high temperatures to maintain its body heat at a viable level.
As an example of this, the largest snake recorded in prehistory came from a fossil site in Colombia and was estimated to stretch to a massive 13M and weigh in around 2500 pounds: Truly a giant snake. However it only survived because temperatures in the Amazon at the time of its life have been estimated to have been 6 degrees higher than the present day. In a word big snakes have such high body mass that constant high temperatures are essential to their survival. This alone mitigates against a 10M Anaconda.
Cryptozoologists believe in the existence of a species unknown to science which they refer to as the Black Boa, an entirely aquatic serpent which is rumoured to reach enormous lengths yet not a trace of such a creature has ever been located by the many natural history scientists and students who have lived, worked and studied in the Amazon. That a snake of such proportions could elude either capture or at least a discovery of evidence of its existence is as hard to swallow as the likelihood of Bigfoot, the Abominable Snowman and a host of other zoological monsters still treading the Earth. It’s true that new species turn up regularly, but the overwhelming majority of these are small, nocturnal and secretive in their habits. Despite all of this they are found whereas evidence supporting the existence of giant Anacondas remains as murky as the brown waters of the Amazon.
It’s also well worth being mindful that Anacondas are kept by many zoos under optimum conditions, well fed, well cared for, regularly vetted, yet none have attained that magnitude of the mystical 10M mark. Wild living snakes have no such benefits.
In summary my guess is that the reward will never be claimed as such a reptile simply doesn’t exist as a combination of factors such as temperature, disease, lack of suitable prey all tell against the probability of the Giant Anaconda ever reaching the lengths of its lightweight Asian cousin.
Giant Anaconda – Fact Or Fiction
Guest post by Adrian Walker the author of Diary of a Snake Whisperer, Birds of Mission Beach, and several books of fiction.
Hi, this is Bill Grimes reporting from Iquitos Peru. Welcome back for more of the story. Adrian Walker and his family are living in one of my apartments and learning about how business is done in Iquitos, while considering their options to purchase or rent, or build a lodge. Adrian was kind enough to write this series of articles for my Captain’s Blog and the Iquitos Times. We hope this is Chapter ten of his new book, The Road to Iquitos. Click the links below to read chapters 1 – 9. Thank you.