Last night a pastor from a small town in Texas called me up to ask a question about snakes. He had heard I was involved with Peace Corps, and he had also heard that Peace Corps had a manual detailing how to prevent an attack from anaconda snakes. (This detail turned out to be spurious). Of course, I had no idea what he was talking about, but nonetheless felt compelled to do a little googling around to find out the facts.
The primeval landscape where Rivas and his colleagues work is home to animals not seen in more temperate arenas—capybaras (giant rodents that can weigh up to 140 pounds [64 kilograms]), giant and lesser anteaters, crab-eating foxes, armadillos, raccoons, giant river otters, spectacled caimans, side-neck turtles, green iguanas, and tegu lizards.
The green anaconda is custom-made for this ecosystem, says Rivas.
The anaconda’s eyes and nostrils are on the top of its head so it can breathe and see its prey while submerged under water. To find his quarry, Rivas roams the llanos in his bare feet, alternately wading and doing a modified breast stroke.
The anaconda, which is a water snake, typically grows to about 20 feet (6 meters) long, weighs several hundred pounds, and can measure more than 12 inches (30 centimeters) in diameter. The females are larger than the males.
Although anacondas might eat only once or twice a year, they eat their prey live, head first. And because their jaws unhinge, the snakes can eat prey much larger than they are.
The article references Jesus Rivas who runs anacondas.org and has a good overview about these snakes and a separate article about anaconda attacks. Fun facts: anacondas eat only several times a year, and often right before mating. Also, lots of anaconda attacks on humans result from being in captivity or coming in regular contact with humans.
From BoingBoing here are some first hand anecdotes of having dealt with various snakes. One commenter says you should keep a bottle of whiskey handy to pour inside the snake’s mouth.