By now you have noticed that we have been focusing on each aspect of Anacondas in separate articles. For example, we talked about their distribution, size and weight in one article, their physical characteristics in other article and yet another article covered about the reproduction in Anacondas. Now, staying in tune with the same, we are going to cover their dietary habits and learn in details about how they hunt, when they hunt and what they eat in this article on Anaconda feeding facts. So, let’s get started…
Anaconda Feeding Facts: 1-5 | What they eat?
1. Anacondas are apex predators. Yes, that means that they are on top of their food chain. The only natural predator of Anaconda is ‘humans’. Yes, there’s no other natural predator of a fully grown and adult Anaconda. This means, no one eats an Anaconda as meal.
2. Since, Anacondas are apex predators, they are the ones that eat others and they have a wide range of food they eat.
3. Anacondas eat rodents, birds, fish, lizards, amphibians and various mammals. Fully grown adult Anacondas (such as the Green Anaconda) can feed on broad-snouted caimans.
4. And yes, the grown up Anacondas often actually feed on jaguars too! Yes, jaguars. It may be hard to believe but that is true.
5. Since Anacondas are apex predators, they are usually not eaten by others but when these snakes try to eat big prey such as caimans and jaguars, they may incur some serious injuries that may eventually lead to death of the snakes.
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Anaconda Feeding Facts: 6-10 | What they eat?
6. The other preys include red side-necked turtle, South American tapirs, collared peccary, red-rumped agouti, capybara, wattled jacanas etc.
7. At times, female Anacondas may even feed on the much smalled male Anacondas. This is basically cannibalism. The other way round never happens. Males cannot eat females.
8. Neonates or juvenile Anacondas can feed on small birds, small fish, juvenile caimans etc.
9. A grown up Anaconda will usually go for a prey that is between 14% and 50% of its own body mass.
10. When massive Anacondas hunt and eat large preys, they will usually go without eating for a few weeks or few months after that. This happens because the rate of metabolism in Anacondas is very low.
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Anaconda Feeding Facts: 11-15 | How they hunt?
11. It is not unusual to see female Anacondas that just gave birth to go for increased rate of feeding. This happens because after they don’t eat during gestation period and until the babies are born. To recover from that, they will feed more frequently.
12. Anacondas are ambush hunters. This means they will not chase and hunt. They will use their body patterns to camouflage in the surroundings and wait for a prey. When the prey is close, the Anaconda will make use of a sudden stealth attack and capture the prey.
13. Anacondas are non-venomous. They are constrictors. This means, they will not kill their prey with poison. They will instead coil around their prey and constrict the prey. The more the prey moves, the stronger the constriction becomes. This eventually means that blood fails to reach the brain of the victim dies of ischemia.
14. Another important thing, the Anacondas usually hunt in waters. This means that the preys often die because of drowning long before they become the victim of ischemia. Also, they constrict their prey so hard that the prey’s bones crush.
15. When they attack and capture their prey, they will usually restrain their prey using their needle sharp teeth so that the prey cannot escape before the snake manages to coil around it.
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Anaconda Feeding Facts: 16-20 | How they swallow?
16. Once the predator is dead and no longer moving/struggling, the Anaconda will swallow the prey whole. The snake will start swallowing the victim head first so that the limbs do not become obstruction while ingesting.
17. The jaws of Anacondas are very flexible. The jaws are attached with stretchy ligaments that allows the Anacondas to open their mouth wide open and swallow big preys. As they start swallowing, their muscles contract, compressing the victim so that it gets accommodated within the gut.
18. Also it is interesting to know that Anacondas have two lower jaws that can move independently and are not connected to each other. They alternately use their two lower jaws to pull in the prey as they swallow.
19. Even the teeth play an important role in swallowing. Anacondas have long and sharp teeth. There are in total four rows of teeth on top and two rows on the lower jaws.
20. Of the four rows on top, two rows sit independently on top side of each of the two top jaws. The other two rows of teeth on the top sit down the mouth’s palate. They use their teeth to pull the dead prey in.