A recap of last year's Anaconda pregnancy

Anacondas Ashley and Kathleen have lived at the New England Aquarium since the summer of 2006. Before then, a third large anaconda, Orange, had already been living in the exhibit for many years. Due to their size, we initially thought that all of the snakes were female. It is very difficult to tell the sex of an anaconda.

The anacondas in a pile, up close and with Amazon biologist and researcher Scott Dowd
It turns out that Orange was, in fact, a male. Large constrictors rarely mate in captivity, so we were surprised when both Ashley and Kathleen were seen multiple times in a mating embrace, called a breeding ball, with Orange. By October of 2007, both of them were pregnant. Kathleen's ova proved to be unfertilized, but Ashley's was. On January 1, 2008 at about 4 a.m., Ashley gave birth to 14 squirming baby anacondas. Here's a video of the birth:

-Marion Britt, Freshwater Intern



A Sucessful Anaconda Feeding

Warning: Contains pictures of a snake eating.

Ashley and Kathleen are offered food every Saturday in the early afternoon. (Usually between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., so if you're around the Aquarium come check it out on the third floor.) Lately, however, neither snake has been eating. I suspect both girls of being pregnant, which can throw off their internal rhythms, and anacondas have been known to have long fasts.

This past Saturday marked 19 weeks of fasting for Kathleen. However, Ashley broke a 7-week fast that included two shed cycles on Saturday August 29th and she ate again on Saturday September 5th.

Ashley takes a guinea pig.

She's almost done swallowing.

We feed our snakes frozen (then thawed) food from a mail order supplier of frozen rodents. This is less stressful for the staff, because we all love animals in this job. It is also better for our snakes. Live food can fight back with teeth and claws and injure the snakes.

-Marion Britt, Freshwater Intern



Ashley and Kathleen Part 2

I found a better picture to illustrate the differences between Ashley and Kathleen.

Ashley is on the right with the orange facial stripe. Kathleen is on the left with the pale green one.

-Marion Britt, Freshwater Intern