- May 5, 2016
- Posted by: Madrigal Admin
- Category: Word of the Week Blog
The green or common anaconda, Eunectes murinus, inhabits the Amazon and Orinoco basins of South America, the Guyanas (the northeastern countries of South America) and north of Trinidad. It is a member of the boa family and the heaviest snake in the world.
The anaconda kills its prey by coiling itself around the victim and squeezing until the animal can no longer breathe. Their jaws are attached by ligaments that stretch to allow the snake to swallow even large prey whole. Its diet consists of wild pigs, deer, birds, turtles, capybaras, caimans, and even the odd jaguar. Once they have had a large meal they can go weeks or months without eating.
Anacondas are in turn the prey of jaguars and other anacondas. A wounded anaconda in the water can be attacked and eaten by piranhas.
No one is quite sure how the anaconda got its name. The name was first used in English to describe a Ceylonese python (1768) with the suggestion that it is a “Latinisation” of Sinhalese henacandaya for whip snake or more literally lightning-stem. No similar snake name still exists in Sinhalese or Tamil.
However another suggestion for the origin of the name that I find most enjoyable is that it represents Tamil anaikkonda which means having killed an elephant. Now that makes more sense.