|Name: Green Anaconda
Scientific name: Eunectes murinus
South America: the Amazon & Orinoco Basins, as well as Trinidad.
As South American rainforests and floodplains are cleared for agriculture, ranching and development this snake loses much of its habitat. While an uncommon animal through much of its range during the wet season (November - March), high concentrations of anacondas may occur during the breeding & wet (April - October) seasons. Green anacondas are CITES Appendix II animals, and widely used for skins, "medicines" and various other novelties in South American markets.
A variable species that can be either kitten tame or a spastic chainsaw serpent (wildcaughts and mishandled captives). Hardy as long as humidity requirements are met and tolerant of cooler ambient temperatures than many other boids, this species is often nocturnal (active at night). Young animals tend to be nervous but with frequent, gentle handling in captivity they often calm and make reasonable pets. Anacondas have an odd biting method, instead of the typical forward lunging they may lash out sideways in rapid succession leaving the handler with several wounds to mull over! One thing we've observed about anacondas is the fact that they hate to be put in bags or containers. Regardless of the fact that they may be tame, they seem to freak out when put through this and often come out with a less than splendid disposition. Anacondas are also closely related to rainbow boas.
Neonates approximately 27" - 34"+/-. Females average 16+', males average 8' - 10' adult size. Record size for the green anaconda is 37.5 feet.
Green anacondas typically live 10-30 years in captivity. The oldest captive green anaconda on record is 31 years.
In captivity we have seen high orange green anacondas, as well as "axanthic" specimens that are a smoky blue color.
Captive Maintenance Guidelines
Advanced. This is NOT a snake for the beginning herpetoculturist. Some experience with larger boas & pythons is highly recommended before acquiring a green anaconda. Keeper must have a solid understanding of husbandry requirements in order to successfully maintain this species for any length of time.
Enclosures can be as simple or elaborate as one is capable of caring for. Remember that the more "stuff" you put in a cage, the more "stuff" you have to clean & disinfect on a regular basis. That said, there are many different enclosures that work well for green anacondas, including, but not limited to: plastic sweater boxes (i.e. Rubbermaid), melamine racks, Freedom Breeder cages, and any of the commercially available plastic-type reptile cages, (i.e. those from Vision Herp & other similar manufacturers). Glass aquariums & tanks are adequate; keep in mind that the screen tops on such enclosures can make it difficult to maintain humidity levels. Also refer to our Snake Caging care sheet for more information. Juvenile green anacondas do well in smaller enclosures that make them feel more secure; a small snake in a big cage can become overwhelmed & stressed. For large anacondas providing as large an enclosure as possible will be extremely beneficial in allowing your snake to thermoregulate and also choose hide spots. Also, if you must choose between the width of the enclosure & the height, always choose the extra width, as your anaconda will appreciate the extra floor space, especially if it accommodates a large water tub or pool. Remember that ALL enclosures must allow for a proper thermal gradient that the snake can utilize, with a hot spot on one end and a cooler spot on the other.
There are a few substrates that work well. Newspaper is the cheapest & easiest with regards to cleaning & disinfecting: out with the old, in with the new. Cypress mulch is great for controlling humidity, but remember that too much humidity can be as detrimental (if not more) as too little. Never use any substrate containing cedar, as this is deadly to reptiles!
Temperatures & Heating
Provide your anaconda with a basking spot of 88-92 °F and an ambient (background) temperature of 78-80 °F. The ambient temperature should not fall below 75 °F. It is vitally important to KNOW the temperatures at which you are keeping your snake(s). DO NOT GUESS!! A great way to monitor temps is to use a digital indoor/outdoor thermometer with a probe. Stick the thermometer to the inside of the cage on the cool end and place the probe on the warm end, and you'll have both sides covered at once.
There are several ways to go about heating the enclosure: undercage heating pads, ceramic heat emitters, basking bulbs (both regular daytime & red "night" bulbs) are just a few. With heat emitters & bulbs it is necessary to really keep an eye on the humidity within the enclosure, especially if combined with a screen top, as both will dry the air quickly. Use thermostats, rheostats and/or timers to control your heat source. Do not use hot rocks with snakes as they often heat unevenly over too small of a surface area & can cause serious burns.
Providing proper humidity for green anacondas is essential to the snake's well-being. This is a species that simply will not tolerate being too dry, and allowing them to become so can quickly lead to myriad health problems and even death. First off, let's establish "humidity" as the amount of moisture in the air. To provide your snake with a humidity level of 50% - 60%, you have a couple of options.
1. Use cypress mulch or a similar substrate that can be misted & is mold-resistant. Cypress is good for this as it turns a tan color when dry & a rich brown when wet, giving a visual cue as to when it needs to be dampened again. It is IMPERATIVE to pay attention to cage cleanliness when you use a substrate like cypress to maintain humidity. The enclosure must be maintained on a regular basis & not allowed to become dirty or stagnant, as this can quickly cause skin problems like necrotic dermatitis (scale rot) and "blister disease."
2. Make a humidity box for your snake. This consists of packing a plastic container with damp sphagnum moss (think well-wrung-out wash cloth to gauge moisture), cutting a hole in the top or side & placing it on the warmer end of your anaconda's enclosure so that it can access the box as it pleases.
Keep in mind that if you have a screen top on the enclosure you will probably want to cover it most of the way with plastic, a towel or some other means of keeping moisture from escaping. This is also where having proper, reliable ambient temperatures (back to that thermometer!) is important, as warm air holds more moisture than cool air. You want the enclosure to be humid, not WET. A soggy cage can eventually lead to bacterial & fungal infections and consequently, death. Anacondas will thrive on the right balance of humidity and ventilation.
Supplemental lighting is not necessary for this species, but if used should run on a 12/12 cycle, meaning 12 hours on & 12 hours off. Continuous bright, overhead lighting is stressful to snakes, especially a secretive serpent such as this one.
Always make fresh, clean water available to your anaconda, as they have a tendency to soak and will spend a lot of time in their water dish. Locate the water bowl near the heat source in your anaconda's enclosure so that the water does not become chilled, as this can result in the snake avoiding the water altogether, or else becoming too cold should it decide to soak. Snakes of many species will defecate in their water bowls from time to time, so be prepared for cleaning, disinfecting & a water change when necessary. It is often beneficial to have a spare water bowl for such occasions, so that one may be used while the other is being cleaned.
One cage accessory that is essential to a happy green anaconda is a good hide box...maybe even a couple of them. Provide one on each end of your anaconda's enclosure so that it doesn't have to choose between temperature & security. Clay flowerpots, plastic flowerpot trays, and commercially available hide boxes all work quite well. This is also where a good humidity box will come in handy to provide both a hide spot, as well as the necessary moisture that is important to your anaconda's well-being.
Feed your anaconda an appropriately sized rodent weekly. By "appropriately sized" we mean prey items that are no bigger around than the snake at its largest point. Juvenile anacondas can eat rats from the time they are young - starting off with rat pups or "crawlers" for younger snakes & moving up in size as the animal grows. Shy specimens can be enticed to feed by first placing the anaconda in a ventilated, locking plastic box (i.e. Rubbermaid) with crumpled up newspaper and introducing food after the snake has had an hour or so to become accustomed to the box. Do not handle your snake for at least a day after feeding, as this can lead to regurgitation. Anacondas can be converted to frozen/thawed or pre-killed rodents (see Snake Feeding caresheet). Frequent feedings (more than once weekly) will result in a faster growth rate; it is important to consider how quickly you want your snake to grow, especially with regards to the size of snake you are capable of housing & handling. Feed at least once every 10 days, especially with younger anacondas. While it is possible to control a snake's growth rate through maintenance feeding, remember that feeding too infrequently will leave you with a hungry snake that is constantly searching for food, resulting in stronger feeding responses during interaction with handlers. Never leave a live rodent unattended with ANY snake, as a defensive or hungry rodent can quickly injure or kill a serpent that has no means of escaping (i.e. within a cage or a feeding box).
Spot-clean your snake's enclosure as necessary. When feces/urates/uneaten prey items are present, remove them as soon as possible. Clean & disinfect the water bowl on a weekly basis. Depending on cage conditions, remove all substrate & cage furniture and completely disinfect using a 5% bleach solution at least once every 30 days. Rinse the enclosure thoroughly and allow to dry before replacing cage furniture & your snake.
Basic Reproductive Info
Green anacondas reach sexual maturity anywhere from 18 months (males) to 4+ years of age (females). Breeding size occurs at lengths of 5+' in males and 9' and larger for females. Breeding season in captivity typically ranges from October to April, with peak activity taking place in the fall and winter. Animals should be well established and in excellent condition before any breeding is attempted. Breeding may be induced by reducing daytime photoperiod to 8 hours and dropping nighttime temperatures into a range of 68-72 F. Misting the snakes with warm water often proves beneficial in stimulating breeding behavior as well. Gestation typically lasts between 115 - 135 days, at the end of which the females give birth to litters that may contain up to 40 live young. Green anacondas are bred less frequently in captivity than their yellow counterparts.
Green anacondas can make a herpkeeping experience a rewarding challenge or a complete nightmare, with little middle ground. When a green anaconda is bad (i.e. import) it can take a miracle to turn the snake into a healthy captive. As CB babies may be difficult to feed initially, obtaining a well-started individual is the first step on the road to successfully keeping these large, enigmatic constrictors. This is a species that responds to gentle, deliberate handling, hence building trust and respect with your anaconda is essential. Green anacondas in our opinion are best suited to confident, experienced keepers who understand snake behavior and how to read their animals.