What Adaptations Do Anacondas Have to Survive?

By China Zmuida; Updated April 25, 2017
The green anaconda prefers to hunt in water to help support its massive weight.

Four species of anacondas exist, with the green anaconda being the largest among all species of snakes. Anacondas can grow to lengths of nearly 38 feet and weigh over 500 pounds. Unlike some snakes, anacondas don't rely on venom to subdue their prey. Instead, anacondas use constriction to slowly suffocate their victims. While anacondas hunt on land, they prefer water to accommodate their massive bodies. These snakes have developed special adaptations to allow them to survive.

Teeth and Jaws

Teeth and Jaws

The shape of an anaconda's teeth are pivotal in its capturing of prey. While small, an anaconda's teeth are curved and exceedingly sharp. Once prey becomes trapped within an anaconda's jaw, there's no escaping from its teeth. This helps the snake as it coils its body around its prey. An anaconda has stretchy ligaments within its jaw, which helps the snake open its mouth wide. Since anacondas have mobile ligaments, they can easily swallow larger prey, such as capybara and jaguars. This allows an anaconda to subsist on one meal for weeks or even months,reports National Geographic.



Located within the roof of a reptile's mouth is the Jacobson's organ, which helps to smell, rather than taste, molecules in the air, explains Animal Planet. When interested in its surrounding, an anaconda will flick its tongue into the air to collect scents around it. When an anaconda smells something, the scents transfer to the Jacobson's organ for identification. This form of scenting helps the snake locate potential prey.


Anacondas use camouflage to deceive prey.

The patterns on an anaconda's body help it to hide from predators. Color spotting on an anaconda also helps the snake blend into muddy waters. This allows the snake to lie in wait stealthily for animals to come closer without being identified. If an anaconda stays out of water for an extended period of time, the snake can become infested with ticks. As a result, glands around the snake's cloaca emits a horrendous smell to ward of parasites, notes SeaWorld. The cloaca is the intestinal, urinary and genital chamber of a reptile similar to that of birds and kangaroos.

Other Facts

Anacondas are most at home in water.

The scales, or scutes, on the underside of an anaconda assist the snake when moving on land. The scales create an undulating motion, while griping the ground to propel the snake forward. Anacondas can stay submerged under water for up to 10 minutes while stalking a potential meal. An anaconda can easily subdue its prey in water by drowning it prior to eating it.