Which species holds the title of world’s biggest snake? The reticulated python is in the blue corner. The largest ever accurately measured was Colossus – kept at the Pittsburgh Zoo during the 1950s – with a peak length of 28.5 feet. In spite of a standing offer of $50,000 for a live, healthy snake over 30 feet long by the New York Zoological Society, no attempt to claim this reward has ever been made.
These are certainly the longest but not the largest, being relatively slim, but this species has been responsible for several human deaths. They are among the few snakes that reportedly eat people, though few cases ever get authenticated: On the Indonesian island of Salibabu, in the early twentieth century, a 14-year-old boy was killed and supposedly eaten by a specimen 5.17 m (c.17 ft) in length.
In 1932, a teenage boy was reported eaten by a pet 25-ft. reticulated python in the Philippines. When found, one could see a human child shape inside the snake. According to Mark Auliya, the corpse of 32-year-old Lantod Gumiliu was recovered from the belly of a 7-m (c.23 ft.) reticulated python on Mindoro, probably in January, 1998
On October 23, 2008, a 25-year old US woman, Amanda Ruth Black, appeared to have been killed by a 13-foot pet reticulated python. The apparent cause of death was asphyxiation. On January 21, 2009, a 3-year-old Las Vegas boy was being crushed by one before the eyes of his mother, who had rescued him by cutting the python with a knife. The snake was later put down because of its fatal wounds.
Reticulated pythons are members of the constrictor variety of snakes. Though not poisonous, they are still deadly, and the python gets forced into second place by the red corner contender, the Anaconda. The largest ever measured was almost 28 feet long with a girth of 44 inches. It is estimated that it could have weighed over 500 lbs. Anacondas in South America can grow as big as a human male.
Like pythons, anacondas kill prey by crushing it within the coils of their large, powerful bodies, squeezing until their prey suffocates or dies from internal bleeding. Then the snake unhinges its jaw and swallows the victim whole. Anacondas are much more likely to eat aquatic creatures, such as fish. Occasionally, they have been recorded as eating caimans, other snakes, deer, and even jaguars. Anacondas are rather slow-moving snakes, so they have to rely on stealth.
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 easily seen. They are well camouflaged in the swamps and bogs in which they thrive. Their teeth are not used for chewing, but for holding on to their prey, preventing it from escaping.
They rely on their great size and power to subdue victims. It is possible to suffer an anaconda bite, but it would not be fatal. They hold on to prey with their powerful jaws and then pull it under water. Their digestive systems are very slow and after a meal, many anacondas need not eat again for several weeks, perhaps a month.
Anacondas give birth to live young, having 25-40 babies after 6 months. They are about 2 feet long when born; they are also, because of their small size prey for other animals.
If you think that any snake big enough to swallow a tapir whole is impressive, you should see the size of the giant snake scientists discovered in a coal mine in Columbia, South America in 2008. Fossils, discovered in an open coal mine in the Amazon rainforest, belonged to a snake 43 feet long and estimated to have weigh 2,500 pounds!
The experts who identified this newly found species thought it large enough to have preyed on crocodiles. The Titanoboa cerrejonensis lived in the rain forests of Colombia between 58 million to 60 million years ago. Standing next to it, a man would find it coming up to his hip. Like the modern anaconda, Titanoboa spent most of its life in the water.
There is little doubt that big snakes look terrifying, regardless of how dangerous they are. People are fortunate enough not to get embraced by these crushingly affectionate beasts very often, and are almost certainly very glad about it. Dangerous or not, these snakes that cannot help but squeeze, though affection is never involved, are fascinating creatures to watch and enjoy.