Anaconda

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Anaconda (Eunectes murinus) swimming through a river in the Llanos (plains), Venezuela
© WWF-Canon / Bruno PAMBOUR
Serpents and snakes feature throughout the Harry Potter novels, from the boa constrictor Harry accidentally releases from the zoo to the horrifying 50 ft basilisk he must battle in the Chamber of Secrets. Would Harry’s mastery of parseltongue be sufficient to persuade the anaconda – surely the real king of the serpents - to be friendly?
The Tamil word for anaconda is ‘Anaikolra’ which means ‘elephant killer’. The early Spanish settlers referred to this snake as ‘Matatoro’ or ‘bull killer’.

The Anaconda, Eunectes murinusis, is the heaviest snake in the world, weighing up to 250kg. Its eyes and nostrils are positioned on the top of the head, enabling the anaconda to breathe and to see its prey while its stocky body lays submerged under water.

Kills by suffocating the prey
It is very strong and, despite being sluggish, can easily overcome large prey, including small species of deer or even small crocodiles (caimans). It kills large mammals by coiling its body around them and suffocating them.

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