The green anaconda can grow up to 20 feet long and weigh a whopping 200 pounds. That's a big body to feed. And the world's largest rodent, the capybara, is the perfect entree.
South America’s jungles have their own versions of water-bound terror.
But only one group, the constrictors, uses sheer muscle power to become the apex predator.
They literally squeeze prey to death.
And the largest and most muscular of the constrictors: South America’s green anaconda.
This is one of the most massive snakes on Earth.
It weighs over 200 pounds and measures close to 20 feet long.
To support this bulk, it spends almost all of its time in and around water.
Here, it can use stealth to its advantage.
Camouflaged to blend into plant-choked water, the anaconda usually waits for prey to come to it.
But when it’s hungry, it searches for a meal.
The anaconda shares this flooded plain with the capybara, the largest rodents on Earth, often reaching more than 100 pounds.
Capybara are social animals and herbivores.
Much of their diet consists of aquatic plants, so they spend a lot of time near water.
Prime hunting ground for the anaconda.
Underwater, it can stalk without being seen, poking its head up just long enough to gage the distance.
Then it waits, lying in ambush.
The capybara stays within range.
The anaconda strikes…latching on with six rows of teeth, coiling itself around the large rodent.
Every time the capybara exhales, the anaconda tightens its grip.
It constricts the blood flow to the capybara’s heart causing cardiac arrest.
The anaconda can’t tear its prey apart, so it has to somehow fit the entire four-foot meal into its stomach at one time.
Its lower jaw is not fused to its skull.
The jaw separates in the middle and flexible ligaments permit the jaw to open extra wide.
The remarkably elastic jaw and teeth that bend backward allow the anaconda to engulf its prey in one gigantic bite.
It’s a huge meal.
The anaconda will rest, digesting its catch for more than two weeks.
A capybara this size will satisfy it for months, but eventually it will need to feed again…and nothing will be safe from the ultimate death squeeze.