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Green Anaconda Care Sheet

Scientific Facts

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Common Name:Common anaconda, green anaconda, or common water boa
Scientific Name:Eunectes murinus
Life Span:10 to 20 years
Mass:550 pounds to 1,100 pounds
Length: Males: 9 or 10 feetFemales: 16 feet
Size:5 meters to 36 meters
Habitat:Swamps, marshes, and streams
Country of Origin:South America

Physical Description

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The green anaconda is famous all over the world because of how big it is and our human misconceptions about their eating habits. Green anacondas are muscular and bulky members of the snake family that are thicker than other types of boas. They have thick necks, and their heads are narrow lengthwise but broad. The green anaconda also has a thick black stripe that is visible from its jaws across its eyes.

The male anacondas are much tinier when compared to their female counterparts. The females can grow as long as 16 feet, while their counterparts are about 10 feet long on average. If you think you cannot handle an enormous snake, green anacondas are not the one for you.

Color-wise, the green anaconda has some oval spots of black all over its back that complements its dark green color. This pattern can serve as camouflage in with the wet and dense vegetation of its habitat. On the sides of its body, you can see spots with yellow-colored centers.

Small and smooth scales that increase in size can be seen toward the posterior of the green anaconda’s body. They also have loose yet soft skin that can sustain the pressure of absorbing moisture. When you turn it over, you will also see some yellow and black scales on its belly. You will also see a one-of-a-kind pattern on the underside of it. Like a fingerprint for humans, this group of scales serves as the identification of snakes.

The eyes and nostrils of the green anaconda are located on top of its head. This placement enables the snakes to breathe and see their prey even when its entire body is submerged underwater. The green anacondas are also equipped with two sets of teeth at the top and one set below to secure their prey. These snakes are known to be agile swimmers, but they also have the tendency to let the water’s flow carry them downstream with only their nostrils above the surface.

Though many myths can exaggerate the size of green anacondas, the reports of them killing and eating humans are scarce and far apart.

Life Span

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When left to live in the wild, the green anaconda can live around 10 years. In captivity, it can live up to 30 years, as long as in proper caring. The oldest green anaconda recorded in history is Annie from the Montecasino Bird Garden. She celebrated her 32nd birthday in 2019.

Availability and Natural Habitat

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Green Anacondas are mostly found freely roaming throughout the South American countries of Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Trinidad, and Paraguay. They can be mostly be spotted in slow-moving and shallow freshwater areas. People have also sighted green anacondas in tropical savannahs, grasslands, and rainforests. They can also be found living in marshes and swamps.

The areas they live in are usually humid and hot and have dense foliage. A compact leafage and vegetation will allow these reptiles great cover and camouflage options.

Caging

If you begin growing the green anaconda while they are still hatchlings, you can start with keeping them in an aquarium or tub with the capacity for 20 gallons. The enclosure should be covered with a screen plus some plastic wrap covering about two-thirds of the opening to keep humidity inside, as well as your baby snakes that might attempt to escape.

Once you see your snake growing double the size of its cage, it is time for a renovation. One option is tubs. Tubs are suggested for retaining the humid air within the enclosures, and the great thing is that they can accommodate bigger anacondas. Your other bet could be aquariums, which tend to be on the pricier side, plus you should have them customized and handmade.

When buying an enclosure for your pet, check the width and length of the enclosures because snakes do not enjoy climbing up tall spaces and would rather lounge around where water is near. A green anaconda should have ample space for them to crawl, so they will not become sluggish and overweight. Allowing them a space for some activity will let the snake be slender, not too skinny, and not too fat.

Green anacondas also love hiding, so your pet will surely enjoy it if you give them one or two hide boxes. These giants are really very shy, and they will feel secure, safe, and protected when they have a snug hide box. It would be excellent if you can look for one that can provide humidity, as this can aid shedding.  But if they have a container with water inside, this humid box would just be optional.

Substrate

Most anaconda keepers use paper towels, thick tissue, or newspapers as caging substrates. These options are very inexpensive and are easier to clean up. You can also choose cypress mulch because it can hold humidity which your snake needs. It can also retain and release the foul scent of the feces of the anaconda.

Substrate changes need to happen frequently. Paper substrates need to be replaced every time they are soiled, and loose substrates must be changer every 2 to 4 months or as needed. Mist the enclosure at least once daily, and monitor the temperature a few times each day.

Lighting and Temperature

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An anaconda enclosure should be maintained at 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and the warmth should be able to fall down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit during the evenings. The living space should also have an average room temperature of 78 degrees Fahrenheit. So you will know how hot or how cold it currently is, it is best to install a thermometer on either side of the anaconda’s enclosure. It would also be best to test the system first before you introduce a snake, so you can avoid harming them.

There are various ways to warm up an enclosure to their appropriate temperatures. The most commonly used are under tank heaters and heat bulbs. An under tank heater can last a keeper for a whole year, and it is very reliable to use. Additionally, heating bulbs can further give the anaconda the lighting requirement it needs daily, which is around 12 hours. Bulbs can lessen the humidity in the living space compared to some UTH, but they are still useful if you take note of this factor. On the other hand, refrain from using UV lights, heating devices, and hot rocks as they are not meant for anacondas and are too hot for their skin to handle. 

Humidity

50 to 60 percent humidity is needed for green anacondas to survive in their growing space. To monitor this essential factor, you should invest in a hydrometer. How does it work? To make it warm enough for your anaconda, set a bowl filled with water near the hotter end of your enclosure. This will let the water evaporate and add humidity. Also, spray some warm water throughout your entire cage once every morning and once every night. Pro tip: To check if your snake is dehydrated, look at how much it spends in the water bowl or container. Too much time spent inside there would mean you need to up your humidity game.

Diet

Green Anacondas can reach their impressive sizes through their nutritional habit involving birds, wild pigs, turtles, deer, capybara, caimans, and even jaguars. But for green anacondas in private care, you can feed them some frozen rats. Just increase the size of the rates too much how big your anaconda grows. You should be careful not to use living prey items because these animals you use for their meals can defend themselves, and they can injure or even kill your snake. Additionally, huge, fully-grown female anacondas can also take small rabbits if rats become too small.

When the green anacondas are eager for eating, they start hunting for their prey. Green anacondas are nonvenomous constrictors, though, so what they do is to coil their bodies around their prey and squeeze until the victim starts to asphyxiate. Once the victim is dead, anacondas swallow it whole. Jaws connected by stretchy ligaments allow them to eat their prey entirely. This is no matter the prey’s size. After this, they can go weeks or months without food, depending on the size of their prey. Their stretchy skin and lack of sternum allow their body to change shape and give space to their dinner while taking the time to digest.

Eating Habits

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In captivity, green anacondas can be fed from once every 6 days to once every 12 days. These reptiles do not have the understanding that they are full, and the more you feed them, the faster they will grow. If you want a smaller anaconda, feed it less. But, make sure your pet is not overly hungry because it will jump at your hand when it wants food. Also, a good rule to follow is to never feed anything more massive than the width of your snake. 

First, when feeding your green anaconda, choose between living or frozen. Many anaconda owners decide to buy live mice or rats to feed their snakes, but getting frozen once that you serve thawed and warmed is a viable, accessible, and safer alternative. When you feed your anaconda live mice, it is reminded of its feeding habits in the wild. But, your pet can struggle with dealing with the mice and can be injured, too.

There are four types of rats that you can feed your anaconda:

  1. Pinkies – These are baby mice without fur. These are perfect for baby anacondas and growing ones.
  2. Fuzzies – These are baby mice that have just started growing their fur. They are a little larger so larger baby snakes can enjoy them, too. 
  3. Hoppers – These are adult mice that are sufficient for most adult anacondas.
  4. Rat pups and full-sized rats – These are the largest available and are perfect for bigger female anacondas.

Pro tip: When you offer the food to your anaconda, you can place it in a small bowl or a small plate. But, most prefer to dangle them in the cage. You can use tweezers or forceps to feed your snake. Be careful not to let your anaconda mistake your hands for its food.

Water

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Because anacondas are from the Amazon, they need lots of water to survive. Dehydration is a significant factor in the health of green anacondas. The best decision is to use water containers with ample room to swim and move in. Regularly replace the water and make sure that it is always clean, as the anacondas love spending time in water dishes. You also should take note that anacondas can defecate in these water tubs, which is why cleaning is of utmost importance.

What type of water should you use? You should go for using bottled water instead of tap water because it is unhealthy for a snake. Faucet water has small amounts of chlorine and harmful minerals. Giving your snake some tap water will only lead to dehydration. 

Sleeping Habits

One of the first questions asked about green anacondas is how they sleep, or if they sleep at all. But, this is easy to identify by the naked eye, because snakes do not close their eyes when they sleep. 

Scientifically, sleep is defined as the behavior which will involve a motionless posture and diminished responsiveness to exciting stimuli like light and noise. The system used for rest is the slowing of the brain-waves. The studies on how an anaconda sleeps have found out that sleep comes in waves for them, at least 16 hours every day, and this can extend to 20 hours after the feeding. These said waves could be discerned with a slower heart rate, more regular breathing, muscle relaxation, and reduced behavioral response.

The eyes of the anacondas do not have eyelids. They are covered by precise scales, whether in the wild or in captivity. A motionless green anaconda may never even twitch, and they do not show signs of breathing and an irregular heartbeat that we usually correlate to sleeping. Since green anacondas will not be able to detect loud noises or see vibrant lights, it is tough to comprehend when it is sleeping since it won’t be able to react.

Development and Reproduction

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When anacondas reach about one and a half years old, the male snakes become sexually mature. For females, maturity can take a little more waiting time. Experts suggest the safest age would be when they are 4 years old. If you want to breed anacondas on your own, take note that this is a huge responsibility. You should be able to provide ample space and be ready to shell out money to use for care.

When it is time for mating, female anacondas emit an airborne chemical or give out a specific scent that can only be sensed by their male counterparts. To find them, males traverse far and wide distances, then, stick out their tongues to get the scents. For females, they focus on giving out the hormone smells while staying in their preferred location.

In the wild, green anacondas spend most of their time alone. But, usually, toward the end of spring, the males begin seeking out females for the chance to mate with them. But, females are not monogamists and usually accept courting from numerous males at a time. This occurrence results in “breeding balls.” In these instances, up to a dozen male anacondas wrap themselves around one female anaconda while trying to mate her at the same time. This mess can last for up to a month of unending mating sessions.

Usually, the strongest male snake would win. But for other cases, the larger and stronger female just picks out her preferred mate from all the male snakes. The ladies are not known for sticking to one partner and can mate with numerous anacondas at a time.

When the coupling is finished, female anacondas incubate the fertilized embryos for seven months inside their own bodies. At this stage, females avoid eating as hunting can endanger themselves and their babies they are carrying. Since the pregnancy can be draining, stressful, and last a long time, green anacondas only mate rarely. Sometimes they do it once every other year or spaced even longer.

Once the baby anacondas are fully developed, the mother pushes them out of her vent called the cloaca. When they get out, the babies are encased within a thin membrane. Similar to shells of eggs, the baby snakes instinctively know how to break them and get out. As they are brought into this world, these anaconda children will be left alone to fend for themselves, and their mothers do not possess the maternal instinct to care for them.

Mother anacondas can typically have about 29 babies throughout their lifetime. This, of course, is depending on living situations and the well-being of the anaconda.

Mating Season

Anacondas start their mating season from November every year and can last until April. Their best mating time would be in December or January. To ensure that your pets will start mating, you can set the mood by October.  You can lower the light cycles to 8 hours a day until April comes. The temperatures can also be dropped slightly to set a perfect mating environment.

How to Breed Green Anaconda

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To breed anacondas in your home, you need to prepare them properly and mate them in an enclosure. Also, you must be ready to take care of the anacondas after they have mated to make sure that they stay healthy. You must take note, though, that this can be dangerous and should only be done by expert breeders or herpetologists.

  1. Acquire a male and female anaconda. They should at least be 3 to 4 years of age because this is the age when they reach sexual maturity.
  2. Clean the enclosure of the female because this is where the mating will happen. There should be enough space for two anacondas so that both will feel comfortable.
  3. Cooldown your female anaconda for about eight weeks before you plant to mate her. Reduce the temperatures by about 5 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and by about 10 degrees Fahrenheit during the night. 
  4. After the cooling period, warm up the female anaconda by increasing the temperature for about 2 degrees per day until you reach the ideal warmth. 
  5. Then, introduce the male to the female anaconda every seven days. You should leave them together for 24 hours at a time. This will give them enough time to learn about each other.
  6. Check the female anaconda for ovulation. It is distinguished by looking at the middle area and seeing a lump. 
  7. Put the male anaconda in the enclosure for mating. Allow the two snakes to interact in the enclosure. Courtship takes a few times before this begins. Eventually, after acquaintance, the male will wrap around the female for mating.
  8. Mating begins, and they will eventually separate to each other after. Then, lift the male and remove him from the living space. If you see a female developing a large midsection, she might be pregnant so look out for other pregnancy signs. 
  9. Female anacondas carry their eggs inside their bodies. After six months of incubating them, the baby anacondas are born. The green anacondas are known to be oviparous, which means they give birth, not to eggs, but to live young. You might see a set of baby snakes from four individuals up to 82.
  10. Once the tiny snakes have been born, the female anaconda will leave the young to fend for themselves. The babies will shed their skin ten days after birth. You can then feed and house them.

Take note: Female anacondas do not mate very often, as they give birth to large litters. Most species of anaconda will breed every one to two years in the wild. Do not force female anacondas to breed too often, as this can put stress on them.

Caring for Anaconda Hatchlings

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Hatchlings can be treated like mini-adults. Begin by feeding them with some baby mice. Baby mice are the best food for snakes because of two things. First, mice are less nutritious. Second, some anacondas will have problems with changing meals when they get older, so starting with mice will be fine.

Behavior

Anacondas are most productive in the early evening and at night. Their massive size makes them clumsy on land, but they can move fast when submerged in water. Anacondas prefer to live alone, as they are solitary creatures. They can also be territorial and consider one place as their home. They are versatile, and the anacondas that dwell in the grasslands sometimes bury themselves in mud and become dormant during the dry season.

Anacondas are known for quickly being able to adapt to changes. When the weather tends to heat up, and humidity is thinning, they choose to bury themselves under the mud, or they migrate to areas near the water. In case they immerse their bodies in the mud, they start a few months of dormant lives. They just stay buried under the mud and not even go up for food.

Restraints and Handling

As much as you want your green anacondas not to be handled, sometimes restraints are required for them. For instance, during physical examinations, there are safety protocols that are needed to be processed. For nonvenomous snakes like green anacondas, the best way to carry them is to simply use a cotton pillowcase or bag into which these snakes enter inside without coaxing them.

You should remember to be cautious, gentle, and delicate when you are trying to touch any snake. Since green anacondas are huge snakes, an individual should not handle them on their own; to better manage the movements of the snake. Green anacondas must be treated with extreme caution because they can still exhibit aggression when they feel threatened, though their bites do not have venom in them. Also, they may defecate due to nervousness while being restrained, so it would be best to place their lower half inside a pillowcase.

Common Health Problems

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Anacondas, in general, are low maintenance animals when kept in the right environment. They require very little day-to-day care, other than cleaning their enclosures. However, there are still chances that they acquire injuries or sicknesses despite trying to prevent this. Here are some of the health-related things to note about anacondas.

General signs of sickness

If you see these warning signs, your green anaconda’s health might be in danger:

  • Discharge from their eyes
  • Discharge from their nose
  • Food regurgitation
  • Body appearing too thin
  • Lethargy
  • No appetite
  • Issues in feces and urine

Constipation

It may come as a surprise, but anacondas can suffer from constipation. The time it takes for a green anaconda to metabolize their food will depend on how old, big, and heavy they might be. As an anaconda owner, it is your responsibility to check and familiarize yourself with their digestion cycle. Be alert and observant should any form of inconsistency arise.

  • Signs – A snake suffering from constipation will appear bloated, lethargic, and uncomfortable. Check their cage for uneaten food because that should not happen if they are healthy.
  • Treatment – You can start helping your snake feel better by bathing them in warm water for around 15 minutes a couple of times a day to get things moving. If nothing happens, take your anaconda to the vet for assistance. If there is a significant buildup of impacted feces, surgery might be required. When this is left untreated, this can be fatal for your green anaconda.

Inclusion Body Disease

This is one of the most common sicknesses found in pet snakes, including anacondas.

  • Signs – Symptoms vary from snake to snake, and not all will develop all of the indications. Check your pet for dilated pupils, unresponsiveness,   unusual behavior, and regurgitating food.
  • Treatment – Immediately isolate your snake from the others, if you have any because this is a transmissible illness. Housing and equipment which the affected anaconda has interacted with should either be disinfected or totally replaced to avoid carrying on the disease to any current or future anacondas you may keep. There is no solution for the Inclusion Body Disease, but you should consult your vet for a comprehensive and conclusive diagnosis. Should the results be positive, ask them advice on how to ease the pain and burden of your snake.

Internal Parasites

This is one of the main reasons why you should quarantine new anacondas.

  • Signs – Poor appetite, vomiting, and lethargy can indicate that your anaconda has parasites.
  • Treatment – Bring your anaconda to the vet once you suspect them to have parasites so that you can be prescribed a deworming treatment and medication.

Respiratory Problems

This covers all health concerns related to the breathing of green anacondas.

  • Signs – Symptoms that you might see are wheezing when it breathes, coughing, and runny nose.
  • Treatment – For initial treatment, raise the overall temperature of the anaconda’s enclosure, to attempt to kick start the appropriate immune response from your snake. You should also quarantine your anaconda to prevent the possible transmission of any infection. Usually, these illnesses correct themselves. But, bring your anaconda to the vet if the symptoms do not disappear after a few days.

Stomatitis

This illness is often called “mouth rot.” This is caused by bacteria present in the mouth that has entered an open wound. This causes inflammation and infection of the entire digestive tract of your green anaconda.

  • Signs – For stomatitis, watch out for these signs: repeated rubbing of the head and mouth on hard surfaces, swelling and discoloration of the snake’s mouth and gums, and gaps showing when the anaconda closes its mouth.
  • Treatment – Clean around the mouth and other areas with a Betadine solution, but make sure that your anaconda will not ingest any of it. Clean and disinfect the cage or enclosure throughout treatment. Seek veterinary advice after a week of no or little improvements.

Preventing Illnesses

If you want your anaconda to stay healthy, make sure that it stays in a spacious area, with cleanliness, abundant water, proper humidity, correct diet, and right temperatures. Green anacondas are really not that difficult to keep healthy if you make sure to observe the appropriate caring of them. Most health problems that can be seen in green anacondas happen when their owners fail to watch over them correctly while continuously exposing them in stressful situations.

Possible Danger to Humans

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Green anacondas have this image of being man-eaters. Some people report that anacondas have been found eating humans, though none have been fact-checked and confirmed. The scientific agreement is, however, that an anaconda could eat a person if they wanted to. Some people assume that a green anaconda can eat humans because they have been known to eat similarly sized white-tailed deer.

Where to Get a Green Anaconda

If you are interested in getting a green anaconda as a pet, you should first check if domesticating and transporting them is legal in your area. If yes, anacondas usually are available in exotic pet stores and reptile breeders. Make sure only to purchase green anacondas from legitimate sellers to make sure that you get the correct species, as well as getting anacondas that are healthy.

Fun Facts about Green Anaconda

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  1. Green anacondas are the biggest type of snake, but they are not credited to be the longest.
  2. Anacondas live nocturnal lives, which means they are active during the evenings and nights.
  3. The dark green skin and black patches or spots afford the green anacondas some camouflage against the muddy water and dense forest beds.
  4. Green anacondas prefer to live most of their lives in, or near, water.
  5. Green anacondas live for around 10 years when in the wild and approximately up to 30 years when in captivity.
  6. Eunectes murinus is the scientific name of a green anaconda.
  7. “Eunectes” is the Latin word for “good swimmer” and “murinus” is the Latin word that means “of mice.”
  8. The green anaconda’s eyes and nostrils are placed on the top of their head to allow them to hide just underwater if need be.
  9. Green anacondas are close relatives of boa constrictors, who are also members of the Boinae subfamily.
  10. Green anacondas are cold-blooded reptiles. This means that they rely upon the sunlight to warm up their bodies.
  11. Green anacondas have been known to have cannibalistic tendencies. Female green anacondas have been reported to eat smaller male anacondas, sometimes after mating with them.

Tips for Caring for a Green Anaconda

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Green anacondas are impressive creatures, so there is no denying that it is fascinating to keep them as pets. However, you should take note that taking care of them comes with specific demands, and you should be able to provide all of them to make sure that the animal will not suffer under your supervision.

Make sure that you are well-researched about anacondas before doing anything else. It pays to be a responsible pet owner. Do you think you can provide it with a spacious living area, around the size of a room? Anacondas are rainforest animals, and they need a warm environment with humid air. As its owner, you should be able to replicate its natural habitat in the enclosure that you will build.

Also, don’t show off your pet anaconda when visitors come around. Some people like to grab at it boldly, and the snake doesn’t like behavior like that. It will become defensive and strike out at you or your visitors.

Anacondas are smart and can learn to trust you if you provide it with positive and calm experiences.

FAQ Section

What eats a green anaconda?

Baby anacondas can be killed by birds, jaguars, other jungle cats, foxes, tegu lizards, and larger anacondas. Adult anacondas can be killed by jaguars, piranhas, caimans, and humans. 

What is the green anaconda’s habitat?

Green anacondas live in marshes, swamps, and streams in tropical rainforests, like the Amazon and the Orinoco basins.

Is the green anaconda dangerous?

Green anacondas usually go for smaller animals and seldom eat larger animals. Anacondas being a man-eater, is just a myth. Reports of anacondas eating humans are very rare.

Are green anacondas good pets?

Captive-raised green anacondas are calm, peaceful pets when they are raised properly. They are very quiet and enjoy a fairly solitary and dormant life.

Do anacondas climb trees?

Anacondas prefer to stay at the ground and near water, but smaller anacondas climb trees to raid bird nests and eat their young.

How do anacondas kill?

Anacondas can kill their prey by squeezing them until they can no longer breathe. Sometimes, they also drown their prey. To eat them, they swallow them whole like other species of snakes.

Is an anaconda a python?

No, green anacondas belong to a different snake family. Anacondas belong to the boa family, while pythons are their own. Anacondas are the heaviest snakes, while the pythons are the longest.

What does the green anaconda eat?

Green anacondas eat a variety of animals like birds, fishes, wild pigs, caimans, and capybaras.

Do green anacondas lay eggs?

No. Like other snakes in the boa family, anacondas give birth to live young.

Are green anacondas endangered?

At present, no. But anacondas belong to the boa family which is enlisted in the CITES II, meaning they can become endangered if the trade is not controlled.

Why do female anacondas eat their mates?

There are many documented cases of cannibalism in anacondas. Some reports feature anaconda females eating male anacondas, and in some situations, regurgitating them. It is unclear though if the male is her mate or just another anaconda.

Do anacondas have teeth? 

Yes, they do. Like most snakes, they have four rows of teeth in their upper jaws. These teeth help them catch and get a grip of their prey.

Do anacondas have venom?

No, they don’t. The anacondas kill their meals by constricting the animals, not by biting their prey.

What are the four types of anaconda?

The four types of anaconda are green anaconda, yellow anaconda, darkly spotted anaconda, and Bolivian anaconda.

Do anacondas have bones?

Yes, anacondas have flexible backbones made up of vertebrae and ribs, skulls, and jawbones with teeth. 

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