Yellow Anacondas, Eunectes notaeus
, originate from South America, specifically the Amazon Basin, Orinoco Basin, and Trinidad. This species is known to be very aggressive, although much of this reputation is based off of wild caught specimens. Captive bred anacondas tend to be a little more docile than their wild caught counterparts, but are still considered to be aggressive when compared to most other snakes. These boids grow to an average length of 8-12 feet, with males being between 6 and 8 feet and females around 10-12 feet. They can weigh anywhere between 40-80 lbs, 40 being an average male and 80 being an average female. Since this snake grows a relatively large size and it is aggressive by nature, this species is not suited for most snake keepers, especially a novice. Yellow Anacondas are mainly terrestrial when adults, living mainly on the ground and in shallow marshes in the wild.
Proper Caging and Environment
Generally, these snakes should be kept in a cage about the same length as the snake and half as deep. This shouldn’t be a problem until the snake begins to attain a length of 8-10 feet. Anacondas between 2 and 6 ft. can usually be maintained in glass tanks of appropriate size. Once the snake reaches 8-10 ft., more permanent housing should be considered. Adult anacondas can be housed in a cage with minimum dimensions of 5 ft. long x 3 ft. deep. There is no maximum size for an adult anaconda cage, so if there is an empty room available, this would give the snake ample space to live and thrive. Regardless, a custom enclosure will almost always be a must.
When anacondas are small (under 8 ft.), cypress mulch
can be used with great success. This bedding has many advantages such as:
-Holds humidity very well
-Allows the snake to bury itself
-Looks natural and attractive
This bedding will often contain/harbor bugs called wood lice. These are very small and many people confuse these with mites. These bugs are 1mm long and have a silver-grey color to them. Mites on the other hand, which are very harmful, are the same size but are a jet black color and more rounded in shape. The wood lice are harmless to the snake, and should only be a cause for concern if they begin to overrun the enclosure. As the anaconda grows larger than 8 ft. and a permanent enclosure is needed, newspaper is often the best way to go. It is cheap, odorless, and excellent for maintaining humidity. Cypress mulch can still be used, but if an entire room is being used as the enclosure this can become very expensive and time consuming to maintain.
Heat and Lighting
Yellow Anacondas require a daytime temperature of 80-92 degrees, and a nighttime temperature of 75-80 degrees. These temperatures can be achieved through the use of a heat lamp
. Heat lamps are usually the best way to go because this setup allows for a more natural heat source (like the sun) and it lights up the enclosure, to a degree, for viewing purposes. You can even use different colored bulbs to simulate a day and night photoperiod. There are black/purple bulbs for nighttime heat and blue/white bulbs for daytime heat. The exact wattage needed will need to be determined by the owner, because everyone has different temperature preferences for their homes.
Yellow Anacondas do not require a fluorescent light bulb in order to live and thrive, but this type of light will help the owner to view the tank and the snake’s color will often be enhanced under this light. This type of light can be utilized to provide the snake with a photoperiod.
Hiding areas should be tight fitting so the snake will feel secure. Ideally two hiding areas should be provided on opposite sides of the enclosure as to allow the snake to be able to thermoregulate and hide at the same time. Finding something large enough for an adult anaconda to hide under can be difficult. Items such as plastic pools made for small children will work simply by cutting a hole in the side. Another possibility is to build a custom hide box out of wood.
Water should be provided in two ways. These are a water tub and daily misting. The water tub should be large enough that the snake could fit its entire body inside if need be. Again, a small children’s pool will work great. Daily misting sessions should be provided in order to maintain proper humidity levels and to allow the snake to drink. Yellow Anacondas require humidity levels between 50 and 70%.
This is the favorite part of snake husbandry for most people. Yellow Anacondas feed solely on small rodents (mice and rats) when young and rabbits, and possibly chickens when adults if the anaconda grows large enough. As a general rule of thumb, the snake should be fed a prey item 1.5 times larger than the thickest part of the snake’s body. If the prey item being offered is too big, the snake will often regurgitate the meal after 2-3 days. This is extremely stressful and draining on the snake, and should be avoided at all costs. On the other hand, a prey item that is too small will result in the snake not receiving enough food and malnutrition. As neonates and juvenile snakes, anacondas should be fed every 7 days. As they move up to multiple large rats, guinea pigs, and rabbits the duration between feedings should be extended to every 2-3 weeks. As the snake reaches a length where it can take rabbits, sometimes it will not willingly switch over from rats. If you give the snake some time, they will usually switch over eventually. If the anaconda is a particularly finicky eater, scenting the rabbit with a rat by rubbing both prey items together will usually result in success.
Yellow Anacondas require a period of high humidity once the shedding cycle begins. This allows the snake to slough off its skin in one piece rather than many pieces. A good, solid shed is much healthier for the snake. Often, if humidity levels are not raised when the opaque cycle begins, the snake will have a bad shed, which results in dried patches of skin left on the snake and, on occasion, eye caps. In order to sufficiently increase humidity levels, the enclosure should be misted twice a day for the duration of the shed cycle. If the snake still has problems shedding, a short soaking in luke-warm water will usually help to loosen the remaining skin. It should be mentioned that it is common for large adult anacondas to shed in numerous smaller pieces instead of one large piece, due to their large size. This is nothing to be too worried about, although, the snake may require some assistance if it is having excessive trouble.
If you have any questions or concerns about your anaconda, please call to speak with one of our reptile room employees at 717-299-5691 ext.1246.