The Truth About Anacondas: Can They Really Swallow a Human Whole?


Movies like 1997’s Anaconda have significantly contributed to the misconception that these beautiful reptiles are aggressive man-eaters. In the film, a filming crew goes to the Amazon and encounters a giant snake that hunts them down one by one. However, in reality, anacondas are nowhere near as fast as that monstrosity, and they prefer to stay away from us humans. Instead of what Hollywood writers say, anacondas will ignore you unless you bother or threaten them. Then again, a horror movie about a massive, docile snake would not be very exciting to watch.

The green anaconda, whose colossal version was supposedly featured in the 1997 movie, is indeed large and powerful in real life, but it’s not the monstrous predator portrayed on the screen. The green anaconda is one of the longest and heaviest snakes in the world. Typically, they reach anywhere from 20 to 30 feet in length and up to 15 inches wide, with some individuals growing beyond that. These chilling danger noodles can weigh as much as 600 pounds and are primarily found in the warm, swampy regions of South America, where they spend most of their time in water. Anacondas are amazing swimmers, so don’t even try to run from them, splish-splashing around.

Even though we have instant access to all kinds of information, some people still believe that all snakes are venomous, including anacondas. That’s just our primal fears trying to overtake our brains. In fact, anacondas are constrictors, meaning they give enormous hugs to their prey by coiling around it. They primarily hunt in water, where they are more agile and can use the element of surprise to catch birds, other reptiles, and mammals such as capybara, deer, and even caimans. Although anacondas, if they ever wanted to, could technically kill a human, such encounters are extremely rare and not a natural part of their behavior.

Incidents of anacondas attacking people are extremely rare and often involve smaller individuals or misidentification. However, we should treat them with respect due to their impressive size and strength. The most recent case of a human falling victim to a constrictor snake was recorded in one of the Russian circus performances, where the “snake master” was choked to death by an anaconda after mistreating it on stage. Such cases are indeed one in ten million.

But let’s look at some hypotheticals. If the anaconda is big enough to coil around you, then good luck, buddy, you’re pretty much screwed. Only a superhuman would stand a chance against the powerful force of this reptile’s muscular bodies, hardwired to squeeze the prey the harder it struggles.

Anacondas have been known to kill jaguars, who can bite a lot stronger than any human, so trying to pierce its scaly skin with your puny jaw would be like biting on a cement brick. Okay, there is a simple method to make the snake buzz off, but you must do so in less than a minute to avoid passing out. Alcohol. Yup, rubbing some good old strong booze on Anaconda’s snout and mouth could save your life in this insanely rare and extremely hypothetical case.

Anacondas are among the most fascinating and misunderstood reptiles on the planet. Despite their undeniable size and power, people greatly overestimate the danger they pose to adult humans. Although, if you’re not careful, you may end up like that Russian guy. Good thing there’s no anaconda big enough to swallow you, right?

By appreciating these magnificent creatures for what they truly are, we can better protect and conserve their populations for future generations. Indeed, we should be grateful that anacondas do not harbor a vengeful nature. Despite having few natural predators, deforestation and human hunting for viral photos and videos may eventually drive these animals to desperation. Us adults may be too big for them, but our kids and pets are never safe, so let’s just leave anacondas in the jungle where they belong and mind our own business.