Burmese Python

Big Snakes

Several Giant size snakes wander our planet, but does anyone have any clear idea of the species of snake that is the biggest among them? These snakes are included in the list of the world’s big snakes.

What do you mean when you say, ‘the biggest world’s snake?’ controversies have been raging on this for years. A fraction of the problem lies in the definition of the word Large or Big, whether you are considering the weight or the length.  Is the controversy regarding the biggest specimen ever seen or about the average size of these large snakes? Are reports that are not yet confirmed taken into account, or are you only considering the ones that have been confirmed?

It is a good idea to begin with the Burmese Python; it is a native of Southeastern part of Asia, with a standard life of 25 years.  It weighs up to 250 lbs and attains a length up to 18 ft. A weird specimen from the Serpent Safari Park of Illinois was found to weigh 400 lbs and grow to a length of 27 ft. Yet after its death, the report gathered was that it measured only 18.1 ft. Yet it remained a Burmese record for the then python.

The Burmese Python has gained fame as a very large snake,  but  its position as the world’s 5th biggest snake variety may not hold for long. In Florida, this variety of snake has engulfed (eaten) 90 % of the wildlife in the Everglades. This aggressive hunter does not belong to Florida. It has full control of that ecological system and does not have any predators.

The African Rock Python comes second in the list; it weighs till 300 lbs. And grows from 19ft up to 23 ft.  Its standard life is around 12 years.  By all means this Reticulated variety of Python is the longest variety of snakes living on earth.   In nature it grows to a length of 30 to 33 ft. With a weight of 350 lbs. They are seen everywhere in the  South eastern parts of Asia.

The biggest snake alive in terms of  brute mass is the Green Anaconda,  which weighs 550 lbs, and it is only second in length to the Reticulated Python  The Green Anaconda scares the big animals throughout the continent of South America. It takes pleasure to while away its time in the rivers passing through the region.

The largest snake EVER seen or the globe is the Titan boa. It was understood that the primitive giant snake grew as long as 43 ft. And weighed up to 2,500 lbs. The fossils of these snakes, more than sixty million years old, were seen in Columbia on the continent of South America.

Colonel Percy H. Fawcett, formerly an Officer of the British Army, who was also an explorer of South America in the beginning of the 1900’s, narrated a story which gives you an idea of the report of the biggest snake that you have yet seen.

While he proceeded casually just near the confluence of the two rivers, the Rio Negro and the Tiger through the slow-moving current, on reaching just below the bow of the river, he claimed to  see a giant anaconda with a surging body extending many feet and head in the shape of a triangle.  He grabbed his rifle while the anaconda was proceeding along the bank of the river, and instantly shot a 0.44 bullet 10 ft below its head, in the giant’s spine. Instantly there appeared flush of foam and smacks against the keel of the boat, giving them a shudder.

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Fawcett illustrates the manner in which they halted and inspected the snake’s body. Despite the fact that he did not possess any yardstick to measure its length, he made a guess that the creature was as long as 62 feet with a diameter of 12 in.  Information gathered from the rubber pickers as well as the Indians also indicate that the size of the anaconda which Fawcett shot was only a dwarf when compared to the unbelievable size that these anaconda attain.  The Boundary Commission of Brazil informed  him that there was one whose length was more than 80 ft.
Still, neither the report presented by the Boundary Commission nor the  Fawcett report gives  a definite statement. In the year 1944, a geologist of Petroleum from Eastern Columbia saw as anaconda measuring thirty seven and a half feet long. This report  does not agree with many, since after the snake was shot,  and taking its measurement, they left for lunch, prior to skinning it and taking photographs. When they left, the snake, (perceptibly living) either swam or crawled away. A scientist by the name Vincent Roth employed in the British Guiana declared that he shot a snake of length 34 ft. Yet his narration had no validity.

The Anaconda

Anaconda – Photo by: Udo Schröter

The Eunectes Murinus or anaconda dwells in the tropics and central parts of the continent of South America. This horrible snake affords to live in fresh waters. The anaconda too is a carnivorous reptile like other snakes. Certain snakes make use of their venom or poison to paralyze or kill their prey, but the anaconda, similar to the python,  its relative, belonging to Eastern parts of the earth, kills the prey by constricting them. A snake that constricts its prey, curls its body round the animal (its prey) and with its strong  body muscles, it squeezes the animal till it is unable to breathe through its lungs and suffocates it.
The anaconda is associated with the family of the boa snakes; its color is deep green having circular marks. Many people mistake it at times for a “Water boa”. The Annacods gain weight in water, unlike other snakes that take shelter on trees. The anaconda that has its base as water always winds round its prey getting it drowned as it draws it below its surface and does not just kill it by merely suffocation.
These big snakes  gulp their  prey in whole. The snake can unhinge its jaw from the skull, thus permitting it to gulp anything that is bigger than its mouth.  Actually the jaws are linked by a ligament which expands. When the corpse is within the snake, quick digestion must take place prior to rotting in the guts of the snake. In case a snake is unable to digest its victim prior to the attack of bacteria, the snake is compelled to vomit it. When it cannot vomit it, the snake is liable to die of poisoning of food.
Big anacondas eat pigs, deer, caiman (an animal similar to a tiny crocodile), also fish. The snake normally folds its stretched jaws round the head of its prey and gulps it slowly till it reaches the feet of the victim. By this method the limbs of the ill-fated prey get almost folded inside and do not hinder digestion.

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The Python

Detailed Article about Big Snakes
Reticulated Python – Photo by: Danny Steven

Whilst a few are of the opinion that anaconda is the biggest snake, this led to controversies among the people that a reticulated type of python massacred in Indonesia in the year 1912 takes the credit of being the only largest snake as a specimen. Its length was 32’, 10.
The natural habitat of the python is Asia, Africa and Australia. Even though the pythons are constrictors like the anacondas, most of the pythons like to take shelter on trees rather than in water. The Python’s color changes from deep green to light brown, depending on the camouflaging effect that best suits the topographical features. These are not natives of North America, but still the Python of Burma, called python Molurus Bivittatus, became an omnipresent species in the National Park of Everglades in Florida.

The medium length of a Python appears greater than that of the anaconda; even then the anaconda is bigger than the python, since it is broader at the center of the body and heavier. This is perhaps why the anaconda, a water based snake does not bother about crawling on a tree like the python. This is probably the reason why the anaconda claims the title of the “largest snake”.
Python too claims the record of being the lengthiest giant snake in captivity. The length of a huge female snake at the Pittsburg Zoo, that was captured from Thailand in the year 1949, was 28 ½ feet and it weighed 320 lbs.
The arguments about the largest snake persist.   These animals dwell in remote, lowly populated regions in the universe and it is not easy to always substantiate their size on records. It is possible to stretch the skins of dead snakes and conjecture how they were when alive. Living snakes like to stay in a coiled position and it is not possible, even for a dozen men to make them straight for measuring their lengths. Some of the tails are just overstated. In the year 2003 reports of a python living in an Indonesian’s small zoo, measured 49 feet, and weighing 985 lbs excited the world.  The reporter of a British journal ‘The Guardian’ was directed to give a first hand report of this python’s measurement, but he concluded that it was not more than 21 ft. And weighed just 220 lbs. This snake did not break the records which all were anxious about, but it still remains in books as a big snake.
On 12th October in the year 2011, the world record officially stated the measurement of a reticulated python called Medusa as 7.67m (25’. 2”) in length.

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Prehistoric Giant Snakes

Titanoboa – Illustration by: Nobu Tamura

According to the a specialist a person having an encounter with a Titanoboa biologically called Cerrejonensis is liable for instant consumption.
These pythons or anacondas that fill the record books presently are not that big when compared to the snakes that at a time,  glided on the planet.  The snake called Titanoboa Cerrejonensis, meaning “titanic boa of Cerrejon” was about 42 ft to 45 ft long and weighed approximately 2500 lbs. The scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, published about their  astonishing findings of the largest snake in the world named Titanoboas that existed before 60 million years in the Colombian rain forests and feasted on the prehistoric cousins of the crocodile. The broadest portion of the python’s girth measured over a yard. If a person stands adjacent to it, it would reach till his hip. Similar to the recent anaconda, Titanoboa lived a major part of its life in water. This fact was revealed in a fossil that was exposed in Columbia.
Snakes are cold-blooded reptiles; and rely on the surrounding temperature to maintain their warmth. Scientists opine  that the temperature in the tropics of Colombia were at a time warmer by 10 degrees when compared to today.
Jack Conrad, a specialist of snakes from the Natural History Museum of America, made a remark on Titanoboa as follows:  “This snake is of weight that exceeds that of a bison and its length exceeds that of a city bus. It is capable of consuming anything as big as a cow. A person will be an instance toast”

Do Large Snakes Eat People?

Anaconda Opening Mouth
Anaconda Opening Mouth

Do these snakes, like the anaconda and the python feed on people? Of course, rarely we hear of such incidence. In the year 1972 from Burma, a python consumed a little boy of 8 years. Then there is the  1927 story of a jeweler by the name Maung Chit Chine. He was hiding beneath a tree taking refuge from the storm and rain and when there was no news of him, his friends, found just his shoes and hat. When a gouged python was slaughtered in the vicinity, they got Chine’s remaining body parts, first the feet that were swallowed (even though this appears reverse to the behavior of normal snakes).  They found the rest of the body within the snake.

Weirdly speaking, several large snakes threaten human beings in the suburban areas and not in the jungle. Even though many people rear pythons as pets, many of them have reportedly turned fatal all on a sudden. In the year 1993, a pet Python of the family attacked and killed a 15 year old boy from Colorado who weighed 95 lbs. It was surprising that this snake,  just 11 feet in length and weighing only 53 lbs, was capable of killing the boy; however,  it did not make an effort to eat the boy.
It is possible that, glamorous and curious snakes are equally treacherous too.

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