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Titanoboa cerrejonensis, the World’s Largest Snake: Extinct Anaconda-Like Serpent Believed to Have Reached 43 Feet in Length and 2,500 Pounds in Weight


Well, the name says it all – Titanoboa!

Snake-oriented web sites will be alive this week with news of the discovery of fossils belonging to a snake of unprecedented size.  Writing in the journal Nature, researchers from the Smithsonian Institute and the University of Florida note that Titanoboa was larger than the contrived serpent that “tries to eat Jennifer Lopez in the movie Anaconda” (Ms. Lopez and company appeared at the Bronx Zoo when that movie was in progress, seeking technical advice.  I was a reptile keeper at the time, but, sadly for me, the powers that be declined to become involved!).

Colombia‘s Anacondas…now and then

An artist’s rendition of the huge beast casts it much like a very large anaconda.  Indeed, the giant is believed to have kept to Colombia’s marshy areas, home to modern-day anacondas.  Titanoboa roamed Colombia during the Paleocene Epoch, just after the extinction of the dinosaurs (approximately 65 million years ago).

Chasing Today’s Giants

There is only one reasonably reliable account of a modern-day snake measuring over 30 feet in length.  A reward offered by the Bronx Zoo for another stood uncollected for nearly 100 years.

I’ve done my level best to find a record breaking anaconda, and I like to think that she is out there somewhere.  The largest anaconda that I came up with was just over 17 feet long and weighed in at 215 pounds – no Titanoboa, but then again not an easy animal to wrest from the muck of a Venezuelan swamp either.  For the full story and some photos of myself and others with that snake, please see my article Hunting Anacondas in the Venezuelan Llanos.



  1. avatar

    thats absolutly amazing, do you realy think theres a 30 foot extinct snake out there??

  2. avatar

    Hello Simon, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog.

    It is really amazing, but it does seem to be clear that at one time 40+ snakes were a reality. The largest I’ve worked with was a 23-24 foot Reticulated Python, which was collected in Indonesia. The 30 foot mark is a tough one to break today, with only 1 possible 33 foot animal being seen in recent times. A friend involved in field research in Guyana , and who is well-experienced in judging snake lengths, is convinced that there are some real giants there…however, they are in deep rivers and difficult to get close to. To read more about giant snakes, please see Hunting Anacondas in Venezuela and Big Snake Meals.
    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  3. avatar

    I been told about anacondas measuring between 22 to 25 ft living along the Rupununi and Buro Buro rivers in Guyana. Have your friend seen even larger anacondas?

  4. avatar

    Hello Dassa, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog….well, small world. My friend is actually working on the Rupununi, and has sent me photos of anacondas in the 20-21- foot range (I need to go back and check details). The problem there is that the snakes have access to deep water all the time, and so it’s very hard to get hold of them. When I worked with them in Venezuela, it was much easier as during the dry season the snakes were often confined to rather shallow pools. The largest I encountered there (out of 500+ tagged) was just over 17 feet and 215 pounds. You can read more about that project in my article Hunting Anacondas in the Venezuelan Llanos.

    My Rupununi contact is quite sure he has seen snakes nearing 25 feet in length, and that id larger ones exist it will be here or further south along deep rivers. He is very good at estimating sizes, comparing to canoe they are in , etc, but it is still a difficult prospect – even after many years of doing this, the “excitement factor” still comes into play when you see a giant anaconda swimming close by!

    Please keep me posted on any tips you might come across, and I’ll do the same.

    Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  5. avatar

    I have also read that huge anacondas are also quite common in southern Suriname too. In general anacondas in rivers do grow larger especially those present in the Guiana shield. Have your friend find any reasons behind this?

  6. avatar

    Hello Dassa,

    Thanks for the feedback. I’ve often wondered the same. Could be genetic variations in different populations, as is true for other animals. From what I’ve seen, however, I believe it may be due to the fact that it is harder for people to catch anacondas in rivers, and so they just live longer and grow larger. They are hunted in many places, for meat, skins, medicinal purposes (fat), out of fear, and so on. In llanos habitats, they are quite easy to find in the dry season…but in rivers, even within llanos, its very hard to get near them.

    Prey base could play a role, but where our studies were done (central Venezuelan llanos/Apure) there was an incredible diversity/density of prey – capybara, deer, fish, smaller anacondas, birds, caiman, tegus, yet of over 500 snakes none exceeded 17.5 feet (most appeared well-fed), and no reliable reports of larger animals in recent years.

    I did see one difference re diet – where birds were the likely main prey, the snake’s skins were in great shape – those feeding on caiman, capybara and deer were really banged up – broken ribs, deep scars common.

    Any ideas on the topic?

    Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted on your thoughts, observations.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  7. avatar

    Anacondas living in rivers inside the jungle have ready access to water all the year round unlike in the case of the seasonally-flooded plains like the Llanos. Those living along rivers can feed all the year round even if the probability of encountering a prey in these places is lower than that in the Llanos. However larger preys in the form of tapirs and peccaries are also available as in the case of Rupununi river.

    The llanos has much human presence in it. The population of anacondas has been quite persecuted. According to me, it is quite difficult to make comparisons.

  8. avatar

    Hello Dassa, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Good points, I agree. The habitats are so different, and human influence is a big part of it. When I first arrived in the llanos, I thought there must be some mistake – not at all what I had pictured as prime anaconda habitat (I was very wrong!). They did well on most cattle ranches, as many owners protected the animals for their own sake (Tomas Blum was inviting biologists to his ranch, El Frio, decades before such was done in most places) and also as a financial benefit – wildlife viewing tours are becoming popular. Outside the ranches, they are hard to find.

    Have you been/worked/lived n these regions?

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  9. avatar

    No, I have never been to these places. Well, I have a great passion for snakes especially anacondas. To increase my knowledge on these snakes, I read books and research papers. I also have some contacts, among whom one is from Guyana. I must say that I have been lucky to come upon this blog.

  10. avatar

    Hello Dassa,

    Thanks very much for the kind words, glad you are enjoying. Please keep an eye out for an upcoming article on an interesting new fossil discovery and for more on anacondas and other snakes. I also started reading everything I could get my hands on as a child and am still at it.

    I’m extremely fortunate to have been able to work with these animals in captivity and the wild; – I hope you get to do the same. Let me know if you plan to visit Guyana, hopefully my friend’s research station will still be up and running – plenty more to see there as well; jaguars several times, giant otters and giant armadillos often, amazing array of snakes…I’m itching to go as well!

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  11. avatar

    I read about an encounter with a massive anaconda in Peru. The snake was of unimaginable proportions. You can read about it on Tamandua expeditions blog.

  12. avatar

    Hello Dassa,

    Nice to hear from you again….I love reading accounts like that, thanks very much!

    Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to estimate a snake’s size, especially at night in the wild – even experienced field researcher’s make big mistakes; while working at the BX Zoo, I was involved in the acquisition of a Reticulated Python that had been captured in the wild and said to be over 30 feet long, photos were sent, and an experienced dealer went to have a look; no one seemed willing to wrestle the beast out of it’s enclosure, but all evidence pointed towards a monster – we purchased it and I helped measure her as soon as she arrived – just over 21 feet! Impressive, but not unusual…but great to know they are still out there, and I have no doubts that a 25 foot anaconda is possible,.

    Actually one of the best documented cases of a possible 25 foot+ anaconda came out of Peru – a noted herpetologist was grabbed, the animal escaped but he got a good look – I’ll find the account t and post it when I can,

    Please keep the observations coming,

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  13. avatar

    Thanks for your points of view. I sent him a mail asking for more information and based on what he told me, he did came upon a massive anaconda. The head of the animal itself was immense. The male anaconda was huge, much larger than those present in the Llanos. He used the big male anaconda as a reference to estimate the length of the female. According to him, the latter was more than twice the length of the male. Also the girth of the monster was impressive!

    By the way it would be nice if you could post the encounter of the herpetologist with the 25 foot+ anaconda.

  14. avatar

    Hello Dassa,

    Thanks for looking into that, sounds promising, I would love to take another trip to look at such places. Good idea on the post – I’ll pair the story with one of my own – I still carry the tooth of a large female anaconda in my wrist; it’s near some nerves and so doc left it in place…

    Please keep an eye on the blog for another prehistoric snake find as well – a fossilized attack by a snake upon baby dinosaurs. I also posted about this on Twitter, within the last week or so (under findiviglio).

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  15. avatar

    I have read reports about people who found large tracks of anacondas in remote regions of the jungle. They determined the size of these snakes according to the tracks. Can one really get an estimation of the size of a snake based on its tracks left given the fact that a snake which has recently eaten, has a larger girth than normal?

  16. avatar

    Hello Joseph,

    Thanks for the feedback; usually takes time to get it right, lots of variables – species, individual snake, general environment in the home, etc….only snapper and slider eggs persevere no matter what! Hope the other 2 hatch,

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  17. avatar

    Hello Dassa,

    You raise a very interesting point, Thanks.

    Tracking is a science, lots of fine points – length of time tracks in place, weather, substrate, and, as you mention, animal’s condition. I found a 17 foot long anaconda with a 60 pound meal in its stomach – I’m sure her track would have indicated a much larger animal. Snakes also have a great deal of “play” in their spines/connective tissue it seems.
    We measured each captured snake 3 times, to assure accuracy – yet when re-captured, several were shorter, even though in good health and weight!

    Good luck and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  18. avatar

    Hello Tom, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog.

    Your observation is very notable indeed! Extremely rare to come across them in the wild. It be very interested to learn if they survive and transform, and of they continue to thrive as small frogs. As you can imagine, they are a real magnet for predators, even showing up below 2-3 feet of water. Here in NY tads take 2 yrs to transform, but they might do it in one season in California…if you have a chance to check on how they’re doing from time to time, please let me know. Would be a great article in the future as well.

    Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  19. avatar

    Anacondas are usually 2-10 feet long some occasionally reach 17-18 feet long with the record length being 25 feet long and personally I agree that larger ones are out there possibly 34-37 feet long and these were allegedly measured by scientists although I would like to know from u Frank how large do you think the largest anaconda in the hidden parts of the amazon today would be?

  20. avatar

    Hello Antonio, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog. Here’s such a mass of conflicting info out there; it’s really hard to predict. During my 20+ years at the Bronx Zoo captive female Green Anacondas regularly reached 15-17 feet; the largest I found in a mark –recapture study (E. Venezuela, llanos habitat) was just over 17 feet (500+ individuals captured); a co-worker based in Guyana regularly sees huge ones, but cannot get his hands on many due to river depth; 18 feet seems typical there. A reward offered by the Bx Zoo for a 30+ foot long snake of any species stood uncollected for nearly 100 years, and was eventually rescinded…a Retic that looked to be that size from photos actually measured 23 feet upon arrival in NYC. Many of the reports of larger animals are based on tanned skins, which can be stretched considerably once removed from the snake.

    As far as I know, 2-10 feet is not typical for mature Green Anacondas, 5-10 feet would be accurate for males, females larger but vary, 8 feet might be reasonable for some populations.

    A good recounting of the topic is given in the recently published Tales of Giant Snakes; a great historical account, and a wonderful read in general, in Clifford Pope’s The Giant Snakes.

    A colleague and I recently came across a huge vertebrae from an animal collected in the 1930’s while going through old material at the Am Museum of Natural History; my friend may be able to extrapolate the snake’s size from that – I would need to wait until he has published his findings, but will report back when I can.

    Based on what I’ve seen of their abilities to remain hidden even in very small water holes, I wouldn’t be surprised if quite large animals were living in isolated rivers, but there’s really no way to guess at what that size would be.

    Please let me know your thoughts. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  21. avatar

    any news on that giant vertabra? did you get a length and if so how long?

  22. avatar

    Hello Antonio, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Nice to hear from you again. It was only a single vertebra; it appeared unusually large and thick but conversion-equation must be devised so that the size of the snake might be estimated. If my friend plans to publish this, as is likely, I would need to wait until after that happens before posting any info here. I’ll do that as soon as is possible.

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  23. avatar

    Now I don’t want to sound like I’m going a little too far with this but unusually larger and thick? could a length of maybe 40 feet or 45 feet be a possible length or is that just taking it too far?

  24. avatar

    I don’t wnat to seem annoying with all the questions but if you had to take a wild guess your wildest guess on how large that anaconda was what would your best guess be between 20 and 30 feet between 30 and 40 feet or between 40 and 50 feet just a wild guess.

  25. avatar

    Hello Antonio, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your note; always a pleasure. The maximum upper limit for a modern snake would likely be around 30 feet, maybe a bit more. They grow extremely slowly once maturity is reached; and in the case of anacondas at least, above 16 feet they tend to add weight and girth more than length. Also, I believe there has been some work done on what the body plan can support – much like the great dane is probably as far as one could “stretch” the basic dog physiology; I don’t have articles on hand but will keep it in mind.

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  26. avatar

    Hello Antonio, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Nice to hear from you again; you could never annoy me with questions or comments, this is as interesting as it gets (for me, anyway), which is why I was poking around museum cabinets stuffed with 100 yr old specimens on the day I found the bone you are referring to! Unfortunately, I don’t have the expertise to provide a decent guestimate; my colleague, who is better equipped than I to figure such things, is working on a way to do that now. He and I have seen vertebra from 19-20 foot-long-snakes, and the one we found was larger than those. I don’t think, even 100 yrs ago, there would have been a snake much over 30 feet – since this specimen was recorded and logged into the museums collection, there certainly would have been a written report about its size had it been over 30 feet…even 100 yrs ago, the Am Museum of Natural History kept careful records and published all such findings. So 20-30 feet would be safe, I believe..but no harm in hoping for surprises! I’d love to hear that you discover the next giant – keep me posted! Don’t forget about the 2 books I mentioned awhile ago, especially Clifford Pope’s..I’m sure you will enjoy.

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  27. avatar

    You said a bit more than 30 feet what do you mean by a bit more would 32,34, or 37 feet qualify as a bit more than 30 feet?

  28. avatar

    Hello Antonio, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for the feedback…sorry, I’m not sure which comment you are referencing, but in general I would say that to mean only slightly more than 30 feet; 30 -32 feet, for example.

    Please let me know if you need any further information.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  29. avatar

    Well what about that alleged 37 footer is something like that biologically possible?

  30. avatar

    Also I had found a very reliable probably the most reliable account of a giant anaconda in which biologist Lamar had reportedly measured a 34 footer which he originally thought was 24 feet until he measured it twice with a string here is the account it’s self read it and tell me what you think: Perhaps the most tell-tale evidence incriminating snake skins as valid records of length comes from William H. Lamar, a respected herpetologist with years of experience in South America. Lamar was forced to kill a huge anaconda in Columbia in 1978. He carefully measured the snakes intact carcass and found it to be 24 feet seven inches in total length(Murphy 1997). Already aware that snake skins were susceptible to stretching, William was extremely careful as he skinned the snake in order that stretching be kept to a minimum. Upon measuring the skin, Lamar found that it now had a total length of 34 feet 7 inches (Murphy 1997).

  31. avatar

    Hello Antonio, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for you’re the interesting info. The link to the note you mentioned did not show up in your email; however, it is very useful to see that a skin can stretch as much as 10 feet when removed from the carcass. If I recall correctly, 2 that I saw skinned stretched 3 feet or so, but the snakes were smaller that mentioned above, 15 feet or so.

    Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  32. avatar

    But out of all the anacondas in the amazon could one or two break 30-32 feet and hit 33-34 feet instead is that possible since it is true that with large species of reptiles that there are the very small and common individuals and then the extremely rare and extremely large individuals so based on that report is 34 feet a possible absolute maximum?

  33. avatar

    Hello Antonio, Frank Indiviglio here.

    I admire your interest – actually, I’ve been having similar conversations with co-workers and colleagues since the ‘60’s. Unfortunately, all that has come of it has been the same type of info that you and I have covered; there’s just not enough hard data available for me to make an educated guess.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  34. avatar

    Hi, Im doing a report on anacondas. Any suggestions?
    you seem to be the expert, and i read ur blog.

  35. avatar

    Hello Vanessa, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog. Here is an article on their natural history; please be in touch with any specific questions you may have.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  36. avatar

    Well one final snake I want to talk about that has the potential to hit over 30 feet could the african rock python which lives in an area rich in large game big cats crocodiles etc. hit or exceed 30 feet in an area such as the congo basin? I have heard claims of them hitting 32-36 feet and a unreliable claim of a 40 footer and with all that large game and hidden forest could it be true?

  37. avatar

    Hello Antonio, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your note. There have been surprisingly few unusually large African rock pythons documented; there is at least 1 instance of human predation that was published (Herpetologica, I believe)., but the snake was an average-sized adult.

    I think it is less likely that a giant might be out there than would be the case for green anacondas, as rock pythons generally dwell in grasslands, savannas and open habitats. They sometimes frequent forest edges, but are not deep-forest animals. Marshes might be one source of large animals, as they tend to live near water, but I know of no reliable accounts.

    Rock pythons do seem to take larger prey items, comparatively speaking, than most other snakes. This may be an adaptation to the abundance/diversity of antelope (a common prey item) in their savanna habitats;; then again, it is only such meals that find their way into popular literature. Field studies of stomach contents would likely reveal a diet similar to other large snakes. Crocs and leopards have been reported on a few occasions, but neither is a typical prey item.

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  38. avatar

    Yeah I know that already but in the African Congo Basin were there is like 80% of unexplored jungle could there be larger ones and if so how big?

  39. avatar

    frankly I do believe a giant african would be likelier than an anaconda since one other expert told me that only in areas were there are large game could there be super-large snakes and the amazon tend to lack in huge animals with the exception of black caimans which rarely hit 5 meters and jagaurs or tapirs plus I watched something on National Geographic were some experts when in search of a giant rock python in the congo and they had found at that in the congo they are very secretive animals plus they also say that they tend hang in burrows a lot of the time so I think a giant is for Africa is way more likely than a South American super-snake

  40. avatar

    Thanks; sorry if I wasn’t clear. My point was that rock pythons tens to inhabit open habitats as opposed to forest interiors. While there is a good deal of habitat that is not often explored, I’m not really sure of percentages. Actually, due in part to the long European presence in much of central Africa, most of it is better studied than is the Amazon Basin, which contains, as of now, the largest intact stretches of rainforest on the planet.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  41. avatar

    Hello Antonio, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks; well there are a great many theories, and as I may have mentioned I’ve heard them bandied about for decades, and others before me have repeated the same. Unfortunately, just speculation at this point… I do hope more info comes to light in the future.

    Prey animal size could play a role, but certainly there are an incredible array of other factors, including the species’ evolutionary history and current genetic makeup; huge snakes have been taken from areas where they prey largely upon small animals, and zoo specimens routinely grow quite large on such diets as well, so the question needs a bit more investigation.

    Comparing sizes/prey density in such huge and widely disparate areas is not really feasible absent a great deal of research….for example, I have worked along the northern fringe on the Amazon Basin, and am in touch with several long term colleagues who have spent much time in the region, and can assure you that, as in Africa, there is no shortage of large prey items, as well as dense populations…but we must factor in preferences, availability, likelihood of capture, nutritional values ….very interesting, but a lifetime’s worth of work (maybe a career path for you?).

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  42. avatar

    thanks so just these few accounts of unusually large rock pythons how big were these pythons the unusually large rock pythons you mentioned about earlier? The longest verified sizes?

  43. avatar

    Hello Antonio, Frank Indiviglio here.

    The largest recorded in a peer reviewed journal, and that which is generally accepted by professional herpetologists, is 25 feet (given by Donald Broadley: (1999. The southern African python, Python natalensis A. Smith 1840, is a valid species. African Herp News. 29: 31-32)

    Clifford Pope lists an animal of 32 feet in his classic The Giant Snakes (1965, A. Knopf). This account is based upon a letter sent to Mr. Pope by the person who shot the snake, and her husband, who measured it. The animal is said to have been killed near a school in Bingerville, Ivory Coast Republic, in 1932.

    Equally famous herpetologist Arthur Loveridge (namesake of all those loveridgei species names) recounts that he measures a freshly removed skin at 30 feet, but believed that when alive the snake would have been nearer to 25 feet in length. It was killed along the Ngeri Ngeri River near Morogoro, in what was then Tanganyika. Check out his Many Happy Days I’ve Squandered and other books, as well as Pope’s, when you can..you’ll enjoy I’m sure

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  44. avatar

    So is 32 feet the longest record length?

  45. avatar

    Hello Antonio, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest in our blog. In order to be considered “official”, or accepted by professional herpetologists, the measurement must meet certain standards…generally, this means that animal must have been accurately measured under circumstances that can be verified (i.e reputable witnesses, photos); publication in a peer-reviewed journal is ideal. The best scenario would be for the animal to be deposited with a museum upon death. The 32 foot measurement is based on letters written by non-hepetologists years after the event, and so cannot be considered as wholly trustworthy. Therefore, most accept 25 feet as the maximum size recorded.

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  46. avatar

    whats the biggest thing a 30 foot anaconda could eat?

    Could a 30 foot anaconda sink a small canoe?

    And How much would a 30 foot anaconda weigh?

  47. avatar

    Hello Antonio, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately, there is no way to provide accurate answers to your questions, too many factors involved. A 17.3 foot-long (wild) anaconda I handled weighed 215 pounds. The largest meal I observed was a wild anaconda of a similar size that swallowed a 60 pound deer. The largest meal I know of is a 130 pound impala consumed by an African Rock Python…please see this article for details.

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  48. avatar

    what I mean is what would the most extreme length under the most ideal conditions for a python or anaconda today be? is 40 feet really possible?

  49. avatar

    Hello Antonio, Frank Indiviglio here.

    I admire your interest, but unfortunately I cannot add anything beyond what we’ve already discussed…anything else would be a wild guess.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  50. avatar

    now i was just wondering there are reports of monitor lizards in Africa, Australia and New Guinea being 15, 20, 25 or even 30 feet could some of these lengths and claims be true? and if so how big could a lizard today really get?

  51. avatar

    Hey just one final question and this concerns giant lizards is a 20 foot monitor lizard or 30 foot monitor lizard possible today and if not what would a good ultimate maximum length be for a monitor today? Is a 20 foot monitor in new guinea possible or australia possible as some reports suggest?

  52. avatar

    Hello Antonio, Frank Indiviglio here.

    There are claims of large arboreal monitors in New Guinea, but I’ve not learned of any that have been reliably measured; as far as I know, all remains as when we discussed monitor lengths in connection with my Crocodile Monitor article. Please let me know if you have any updates.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  53. avatar

    I have heard reports of komodo dragons 14-23 feet long and reports of crocodiles in Africa being 50 feet what do you think the ultimate size for a crocodile today and a komodo dragon would be ?

  54. avatar

    Hello Antonio, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your post. The largest reliably measured croc was just over 20 feet long…please check this article for some interesting details and theories. I’ve worked with Rhom Whittaker, who is cited there. He is the world’s leading expert on such matters, and his remarks may be taken as the most authoritative available. Some years ago I had the good fortune to enter an exhibit housing the world’s largest captive croc..please see this article for details.

    Komodo Dragons have a tiny range and have been well studied, so there’s not much room for speculation. The largest was a somewhat famous animal that just tipped 10 feet in length. His story involves noted animal collectors and zoos..you should be able to trace it online. A statue depicting this animal decorates the Bronx Zoo reptile house…amazing bulk, an very impressive in general.

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank I

  55. avatar

    I’m Sorry but I was just wondering if you have any news on that huge single vertebra you found any idea on how large snake was? Was it around 20-30 feet?

  56. avatar

    Hello Antonio, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest. I hope all is well. Unfortunately, nothing new to report. I’ll report back if my colleague publishes anything related.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  57. avatar

    Ok I have asked a couple scientists if a monitor lizard could grow to be 40 feet today and they all said no which makes sense but could a monitor today measure in the 20 foot range at least? I mean could there be monitor lizards today in the lower to mid 20 foot range?

  58. avatar

    Hello Antonio, Frank Indiviglio here.

    Thanks for your interest. Judging from what we know of the largest species, a 20+ foot long individual is unlikely. The rumors mentioned in this article are speculation…I’d like to believe them, but there is no solid evidence.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  59. avatar

    I mean you said you believe that larger crocodile monitors could be out there so just how large could they be that is somewhat possible? And what then is the largest theoretically possible size for a monitor lizard today?

  60. avatar

    Hello Antonio,

    Thanks for your interest. Given the density of the forests they inhabit, larger individuals than those now known are theoretically possible, but there is no way to accurately estimate their size. We can only go by what we have seen. The largest reliably-measured monitor of any species of which I’m aware is a 10’1” Komodo Dragon; a bronze model of this animal is on display at the Bronx Zoo’s reptile house. It is 10’ 2” long, in order to “beat” the record!

    Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  61. avatar

    Anyway so even if there is no way to accurately estimate their size 20+feet is clearly out of the question still if you had to take wild scientific guess what length would you think is not ridiculous?

  62. avatar

    Hello Antonio

    Thanks for the water monitor note; I’ll check the reference. I had one that measured over 7’, and was missing much of its tail, so they do get up there. I can’t really speculate any further re maximum possible lengths.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  63. avatar

    do you know were i can find scientific estimated sizes for crocodile monitors? Like were I can find some proposed lengths?

  64. avatar

    Hello Antonio,

    The references listed here would be a good starting point; your local library should be able to assist you in borrowing them, if they are not in the collection.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  65. avatar

    So how dangerous can a very aggressive crocodile monitor be to a human being and lets say it is 8-9 feet long. Could a very huge individual really be capable of killing a human or something else like a pig, deer, chicken or livestock?

  66. avatar

    Hello Antonio,

    They have powerful jaws and serrated teeth; as with any such animal, a bite that severs an artery could be fatal if not treated right away. However, evolution has adapted them to an arboreal lifestyle; they are lighter in weight than similarly sized species, and likely prey upon moderately-sized forest animals (possums, birds, snakes etc.). Komodo Dragons have evolved to fill the role left open by the absence of large cats and other mammalian predators; they are heavily built and occasionally take humans and larger prey. Water Monitors frequent village and city outskirts in some regions, and likely take chickens, cats etc.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  67. avatar

    Even though komodos have a small range there is some speculation that there could be a truly giant individual or two out there and I was just wondering if komodos could get any bigger than 10 feet and if so how big?

  68. avatar

    Hello Antonio,

    Thanks for your interest. Komodos have been very well-studied and, considering their tiny range, I doubt there are any surprises in store re size. This article has some facts info gathered by a field researcher from the San Diego Zoo.

    Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.

  69. avatar

    I’m sure your familiar with the python situation in Florida and I’m hearing from several different internet sources that the burmese python and african pythons there could mate and form a larger hybrid species and i was just wondering if you could tell me what is really going on and what are biologists and wildlife management TRULY concerned about?

  70. avatar

    Hello Antonio,

    The 2 species have hybridized in captivity, but it is not known whether or not fertile offspring are always produced. Remarks concerning the size or aggressiveness of hybrids are speculative…hybridization is a complex process; DNA studies and long-term experience are lacking. Please see this article for info on African Rock Pythons in Florida.

    Best, Frank

  71. avatar

    I ask about size because I Know of several animal species that hybridize and produce off spring which grow to be unbelievably huge and I’m just curious if this might be possible with these two snake species. But anyway knowing that gigantism has occured with other hybrid animals could there be Extremely large hybrid pythons in florida?

  72. avatar

    Hello Antonio,

    Unfortunately, there are far too many variables involved; I you’ve not done so, you may wish to read up on the history of 1 or several domesticated mammals or birds to get a sense of what I mean. We’ve been selectively breeding and hybridizing out most important commercial species for centuries, and a good deal of information has been generated. However, little if any would seem applicable to reptiles.

    Sorry I could not be of more help, Best, Frank

  73. avatar

    Well there is a biological phenomenon known as hybrid vigor which is what causes a number of hybrid animals such as hybrid big cats and bird species to get extremely large so my question is could that happen with snakes? I mean could hybrid vigor happen in hybrid pythons?

  74. avatar

    Hi Antonio,

    Thx for the feedback. Hybrid vigor is a very interesting topic, but it refers to a whole range of genetic characteristics, not size alone. The classic example is the mule – midway in size between the horse and donkey from which it was derived, more resistant to certain diseases than either, physically very powerful, etc. Wild relatives are bred with domestic animals and crops (i.e. tomatoes) to add desirable characteristics all the time – i.e. zebu/domestic cow crosses are resistant to various insects and parasites that afflict domestic cows in Africa. Hybrids can be larger, smaller or the same size as the parent species. The big cat crosses I’m aware of, mainly lion/tiger (which are infertile) are appx the same size as the parent species. Same with many birds, i.e.guinea hen/chicken crosses.

    The flip side of hybrid vigor is outbreeding depression; hybrids inherit unfavorable characteristics (infertility is common, as with big cats). In one project, Ibex of different subspecies (closely related) were crossed and released into the Italian Alps, where the species had been exterminated. The resulting genetic mix caused the hybrids to give birth in the middle of winter, rather than spring, and the population perished.

    Much depends on how closely related the animals are, but there are a great many other factors involved as well. Several python species have been crossed in captivity, incl African and Burmese pythons, but there is no clear pattern, re size, that I know of. We do not have enough info to make an educated guess at this point.

    Best, Frank

  75. avatar

    There is just one final thing I want to know and that is if a 30 foot or 32 foot python or anaconda due to its immense size be able too tear chunks of meat out of an animal like a deer or pig and also I want to know just how much time an alligator spends on land and if they can really be found traveling miles on land in search of new territory

  76. avatar

    Hi Antonio,

    Nice to hear from you again. Mechanically, snakes do not have the ability to remove pieces of flesh from prey; size doesn’t affect this. Rather, it has to do with the shape and nature of the teeth and the functioning of the jaw muscles. Recently, one fascinating exception has been discovered. The Gerard’s Watersnake, Gerarda prevostiana can pull apart the soft-shelled crabs that form the bulk of its diet…it bites onto the crab, loops it’s body into a knot, and yanks. This is the only documented example of a snake that does not swallow its prey whole. You can read more about this amazing creature here.

    American Alligators do travel considerable distances from water in search of territories., This is especially common in areas of high population density, as resident males will attack others that infringe on their territory.

    Best, Frank

  77. avatar

    So in an areas were there are high alligator populations would it be possible to find some alligators literally a few miles away from water are there some alligators that spend so much time on land that they can be misidentified as huge lizards?

  78. avatar

    Hi Antonio,

    They may wander a few miles if necessary, but in the heart of their range, s. Fla and Louisiana, they generally run into some water quickly – a canal, golf course pond, swimming pool, etc. Alligators are so familiar to people in the Southeast that they are not likely to be misidentified. However, the name “alligator” is actually a mispronunciation of the name given them by Spanish explorers, when they first came upon them. They were called “El Lagarto Grande” in English, the large lizard. This name gradually transformed into “alligator” through local usage.

    Best, Frank

  79. avatar

    So in parts of their range where there is no where as much swamp like in a more wooded area could they be sometimes seen far inland and I was curious if there any known populations of individuals not in the states you mentioned that spend more time on land than in water?

  80. avatar

    Hi Antonio,

    They range from Virginia and N Carolina to Texas and Florida, but only spend ti me away from water when forced to. if there is not enough suitable habitat, the dispersing youngsters will perish and the population will not expand.

    Best, Frank

  81. avatar

    Is the cuban crocodile really the most terrestrial of the crocodilian species discovered today and if not what would the most terrestrial species be and if so just how terrestrial can the Cuban crocodile be?

  82. avatar

    Oh and is there any particular population say like a mini population of a subspecies or just a group of very extraordinary individuals that have adapted to a more land based lifestyle?

  83. avatar

    Hi Antonio,

    Nice to hear from you. The term “terrestrial” is somewhat misleading when applied to Cuban Crocs, but they got that label early on and it stuck. It refers to the fact that they move about on land faster, and with more agility, than do other crocs. I can attest to this – a pair at the Bx Zoo lived into their 50’s, and during that time I had many chances to work with them. They run very fast, for short distances, and jump amazingly well – almost the whole body leaves the water as they leap. At one point, 7 adults (young of the old pair) broke through an exhibit wall and entered the adjoining exhibit, which house an adult pair of false gharials -the battle to separate them was the scariest and longest in my long zoo career!

    One theory is that they once preyed heavily upon a now extinct species of sloth that shared their habitat; by jumping nearly clear of the water, they could snatch sloths from overhanging branches. I’m not sure how much science is behind the theory.

    Otherwise, they live as do most crocs – remaining in the water except for basking and nesting.

    best, Frank

  84. avatar

    Hi Antonio,

    Please see last response.,There is only 1 species, with a very limited range (one site on Cuba, and another on a nearby tiny island).

    Best, Frank

  85. avatar

    So how big was the largest water monitor lizard on record and how much did it weigh and finally what is the story behind the giant specimen. I here it was over 10 feet or even 10 feet and a half if I remember correctly

  86. avatar

    Hi Antonio,

    I do not recall any stories or info concerning the largest recorded water monitor. The largest I’ve seen/worked with was around feet; I was under the impression that animal was at the upper end of their size range.

    Best, Frank

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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