18-Foot Anaconda Captured Alive

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September has been a busy month for reports of giant reptiles. First a record breaking crocodile was captured in the Philippines.

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Now, YahooNews reports that a massive 18-foot green anaconda (Eunectes murinus) was captured by a group exploring the Rewa River in Surinam. Where are Ice Cube, J-Lo, and Owen Wilson when you need them?

Niall McCann, a 29-year-old biologist from Wales, Robert Pickles, and their guides found the anaconda while trekking through a section of the Rewa River never before surveyed by scientists. They captured the snake in 2009, but didn't release photos until recently.

"The animals there had never seen people before so you could get incredibly close to them," McCann told YahooNews in an interview.

The team spotted the sizeable serpent on the river bank, but didn't tackle it at first.

"When you first see something of that size you just don't know how it will respond. We were very scared, we had heard innumerable horror stories of them taking people and killing them — you know this is a seriously dangerous animal you are faced with," McCann said.

Three weeks later, the anaconda was still in the same spot. The explorers had gained experience catching caiman and smaller anacondas since their first encounter with the giant, and felt confident they were up to the 18-foot long challenge.

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"We spent about 20 minutes preparing the landscape so we could encourage it to move inland, we didn't want it to go into the river as it could have escaped," McCann said.

"It would stretch out then coil, ready to strike, then stretch out and coil again. I said, 'right, next time it stretches I'm going to go for it.' It started to stretch out and I just leapt on top of it with both hands behind its head, my knee on its back and the other chaps piled on behind me," McCann continued.

"It was a struggle for the first 30 seconds or so as it tried to move its head from side to side. It tried to scratch at us then Ash, the head guide, came round the front and grabbed it by the jaws as I lifted it up — wrapping its jaws with tape so it could no longer bite us," McCann said.

The snake wranglers made sure the anaconda couldn't escape with its mouth taped, which would have been a death sentence for an animal with no appendages. The team then measured it and released it.

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At 18 feet, the anaconda may be one of the longest ever measured.

A 17 foot 1 inch (521 cm ) long female that weighed 215 lb (97.5 kilograms), was documented by Jesus Antonio Rivas in The Life History of the Green Anaconda (Eunectes murinus), with Emphasis on its Reproductive Biology. Other reports of anacondas reaching 24-27 feet have been reported by reliable sources.

Though rumors exist of anacondas reaching lengths of more than 30 feet, herpetologists doubt the accuracy of these claims.

IMAGES:

 A pet green anaconda, Eunectes murinus (Wikimedia Commons)