Home | Field studies and notes | Hunting Anacondas in the Venezuelan Llanos – notes and photos for fans of giant snakes

Hunting Anacondas in the Venezuelan Llanos – notes and photos for fans of giant snakes

Growing up near the Bronx Zoo, I became fascinated by giant snakes early on, as these magnificent creatures were always featured prominently in my favorite building, the Reptile House.  So it was with great anticipation that, after some years as a reptile keeper for the zoo, I set off for Venezuela to assist in field studies of the green anaconda, arguably the world’s largest snake.


Accounts of what I observed and learned during three visits to that country’s central llanos area (seasonally flooded grasslands) would fill several books.  I would like here to just give you some facts and photos – in the future, I will highlight some of my experiences in longer articles.


Despite long-standing legends to the contrary, (and, recently, a plethora of internet photos) there is only one reasonably reliable account of a snake measuring over 30 feet in length (I’ll cover the details of this and related stories in the future).  In fact, the Bronx Zoo offered a cash reward, established, as legend has it, by Theodore Roosevelt, for a living snake in excess of 30 feet.  That reward, now withdrawn, stood uncollected for nearly 100 years (I was involved in the last attempt to collect it – please look for details in the future).


The snake you see pictured here was the largest that I and my colleagues encountered.  It measured just over 17 feet long and weighed 215 pounds.  As you can see from the close-up of my hand on its head, she (all anacondas Me with 17 ft, 215 lb. green anaconda
of this size are females) put up a quite vigorous battle when captured – indeed, one of her teeth remains imbedded in my wrist till this day as a reminder!  A number of the 500+ green anacondas that were marked during the study were in the 15 to 16 foot range.


I was fortunate to come upon quite a few anacondas in the process of feeding upon a wide array of animals, including capybara, caiman, jacanas and other birds, turtles and, most unforgettably, a deer of 60 pounds in weight.  Please look for future articles on the details of these most fascinating encounters.


The Venezuelan llanos, especially in the dry season, offers a wildlife-viewing extravaganza that is difficult to put into words.  Encounters with crab-eating foxes, freshwater dolphins, giant anteaters, armadillos, electric eels, caiman, scarlet ibis and countless other creatures large and small are all but guaranteed.  Cougars, jaguars, giant otters, tamandua, tree boas, tegus and a host of others are also a real possibility.  I am planning to write an article for people who might like it explore (and “exploration” it is, in the true sense of the word) this area – please look for it in the future.

 Anaconda Emerging from the water


You can learn more about the field research project I described in this article at:

Anaconda Expert Wades Barefoot in Venzuela’s Swamps


  1. avatar

    that snake ishuge!!!

    • avatar

      Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. Thanks for your interest in our blog.

      Yes, coming across her was quite a thrill for me. A colleague working in Guyana recently showed me a photo of an even larger anaconda, taken within the last few months.

      The snake pictured here was collected in open country…basically flooded grassland. There are reports of much larger individuals further south, in rivers that run through thickly-wooded country, but its very hard to locate and capture snakes there…but nice to know there are still some surprises waiting for us!

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  2. avatar

    this is one big snake i am a snake expert. i look for cobras anaconda my last mission was looking for a killer python which had killed three people in india i will be looking for people to come on a round the world trip to find the biggest snake.

    • avatar

      Hello Ray, Frank Indiviglio here. Thanks for your interest in our blog.

      Sounds like your involved in some very interesting work…please keep me posted.

      A herpetologist friend working in Guyana has shown me photos of larger animals, several of which were caught and released. Apparently large individuals are no uncommon near his study sites, but its much more difficult catching them in the rivers, as compared to the llanos habitat in which I worked. There are political/logistic problems in Guyana right now, but plans are in the works for a thorough survey. Let me know if you’d like to remain posted on that.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  3. avatar

    OMG!!! I love snakes!!! always have ever since i was a little girl. My mother however is terrified of them, and me being a devious child used to put gardner snakes in her bed while she was sleeping….*LOL* seeing this picture just made my whole day better..to think that something as big as that snake is completely muscle too…it’s just amazing!!!!

    • avatar

      Hello Rachael, Frank Indiviglio here. Thanks for your comment…glad you liked the photos.

      Thant’s some stout-hearted mother you have there! I bet she has more than a few “devious child” stories to tell!

      I lived with my mother and grandmother as a child. My grandmother had grown up with 7 rough and tumble brothers, so there wasn’t much I could do to surprise her. But my mother had a tough time adjusting to walking in on her 10 yr old son with various snakes and other creatures latched to his arm, a water monitor which matched him in length, escaped flying squirrels gliding about the house and so on…but she became fascinated, wound up volunteering at the Bronx Zoo for many years, and today keeps a variety of herps and fishes herself! I think (hope!) that children like us make them stronger in the long run!

      As for muscles…after decades of handling both captive and wild snakes, I can say that wild ones are much stronger (and “toned”, if you will) than captives of the same size and species. Overpowering a caiman or deer without the benefit of arms is quite hard…sometimes I’ve failed, even with help from others!

      Thanks again, Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  4. avatar


    • avatar

      Hello, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog.

      The green anaconda is certainly the world’s heaviest snake. I’ve weighed several that exceeded 200 pounds, and a 400 pound animal would not be out of the question. As for length, the longest recoded snake was a reticulated python (29-33 feet), but anacondas could potentially reach that length as well – however, there are as yet no reliable records to support that.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

      Hola, Frank Indiviglio aquí. Gracias por su interés en nuestro blog. El anaconda verde es ciertamente la serpiente más pesada del mundo. He pesado varios que excedieron 200 libras, y un animal de 400 libras no sería inadmisible. En cuanto a longitud, la serpiente recodificada más larga era un pitón reticulado (29-33 pies), pero los anacondas podrían potencialmente alcanzar esa longitud también – sin embargo, no hay hasta ahora expedientes confiables para apoyar eso. Recuerdos, Frank Indiviglio.

  5. avatar

    So have anyone found a snake that was 37 feet long so far that you know of. And good luck trying to find a snake that weighted 2,500 pounds and is 45 feet.

    • avatar

      Hello Keshia, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for your interest in our blog.

      The largest fairly reliable record seems to be 33 feet. A reward posted by the Bronx Zoo for a snake topping 30 feet was never claimed in the nearly 100 years that it stood.

      You might enjoy this article on Big Snake Meals.

      Good luck and please keep me posted.

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  6. avatar

    Hi Frank, Great Blog!

    I’m developing a documentary project about anacondas in Guyana and I wondered if I could speak to you (or your colleague who you mention above, working in Guyana!) about the best way to achieve this?

    Please feel free to drop me an email and we can talk further.

    All the Best, James

    • avatar

      Hello James, Frank Indiviglio here.

      Thanks for the kind words, much appreciated. Your project sounds very interesting; I’d be happy to speak with you and to put you in touch with someone in the field if possible. I’ll email you directly later today,

      Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  7. avatar

    Hi, i read your blog from time to time and i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam remarks? If so how do you stop it, any plugin or anything you can suggest? I get so much lately it’s driving me insane so any support is very much appreciated.

    • avatar

      Hi. Yes, Spam is a part of the game with blogs. We use a plugin called Akismet to help deal with some spam comments, but admittedly, it doesn’t catch them all.

  8. avatar

    these snakes are very nice and very nice collecting sir….

About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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