Yellow anacondas are amongst the world’s largest snakes and will readily gobble up chubby capybaras and peccaries, but an adult caiman is an ambitious target even for the most sizeable snakes.
In a remarkable sighting, photographers and tour guides recently came across a caiman on the banks of Brazil’s Cuiabá River with a girthy anaconda coiled around its upper body like an ultra-authentic snakeskin scarf. It’s unclear how the two reptiles became entwined, but it’s most likely the caiman fancied a snake snack and the anaconda was having none of it. According to reports, the battle lasted some 40 minutes with the constrictor tightening its grip and the caiman intermittently chomping on the snake’s body. Eventually, the crocodilian fled to the water where it’s presumed the snake released its grip in order to come up for air (although crocs can’t breathe under water they can survive submerged for lengthy periods of time, which is more than most snakes can handle).
The caiman returned to the riverbank and the anaconda was later spotted exiting the water and retreating to a burrow. Though outsized by their relative the green anaconda (the world’s largest snake), yellow anacondas are plenty big, reaching lengths of 4.6 metres (15 feet). Small antelope such as brocket deer top the size chart when it comes to prey choice for these snakes, so an adult caiman is too big a challenge.
Caiman are generalist feeders and will dine on snakes if the opportunity presents itself (although a rotund anaconda is perhaps more effort than it’s worth). The crocodilians are themselves not immune from periodic predation and jaguars in the Pantanal have made a habit of dispatching the reptiles in often-dramatic fashion: