Five of the species were brought to city from Czech Republic zoo in Aug. 2011

For close to three hours on Saturday, reptile keeper S. Suresh cleaned a glass enclosure even as its occupants slithered up logs and coiled.

The 28-year-old went about his job even as visitors to the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust (MCBT) in Vadanemmili village near Kovalam on ECR watched in awe tinged with horror.

Saturday was the first time the croc bank displayed anacondas, more than a year after the reptiles were brought there.

In fact, the idea behind the public viewing is to destroy the myths surrounding the non-venomous anacondas, an official of MCBT said.

“Unlike what we have seen in movies, the anacondas at the croc bank are cute. It was amusing to watch them move about the enclosure, their heads bobbing in the water,” said K. Sowmiya, a tourist from Puducherry.

The anacondas — two green and three yellow — were brought from Protivin Crocodile Zoo in the Czech Republic in October 2011 under the animal exchange programme. Four gharials were sent to the Czech zoo in return.

Back then, each of the anacondas was three months old and around 60 cm long. Now, the green anacondas — the only two on display — have grown to 6 feet 5 inches (female) and 6 feet and 3 inches (male).

Unlike routine reptile enclosures, the anacondas have been provided a ‘mock-rock’ habitat of around 200 sq ft. It has been designed to suit the needs of anacondas with logs to climb and rest on.

Special lighting facility, including heaters, has been installed to provide warmth during the night and in winter. As the Amazon forests — the natural habitat of anacondas — and the Indian subcontinent enjoy equatorial climate, wildlife experts said the green anacondas would adapt well in the city zoo.

“As anacondas are aquatic in nature, in summer, they stay under water. The ideal temperature for anacondas is between 27 degrees Celsius and 30 degrees Celsius,” said MCBT director, Colin James Stevenson.

Experts at the croc bank constantly monitor the temperature in the enclosure to ensure the right amount of heat, crucial for the survival of the reptiles.

The glass enclosure allows for underwater viewing and the anacondas can warm themselves on the sun with logs to heat their systems for the night. The snakes have now acclimatised and also been exposed to human presence.  

Anacondas can live up to 30 years in the wild especially in their native habitat of the Amazon forests.

On an average, a female anaconda grows up to five metres long while the males grow three metres long and weigh around 60 kg.

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