The fear of snakes is thought to one of the most common phobias for humans, even though many people have never even seen a snake in the wild.
It is our instinct to be scared of them, and it seems we have good reason to, as many of the most venomous creatures in the world are snakes, and often the tiniest ones are the deadliest.
However, some of the larger snakes that are not venomous and are often kept as pets; still have the ability to cause serious damage to humans due to their sheer size and constricting powers. Here we look at five of the largest snakes in the world!
The Green Anaconda is the largest snake in the world, not in length but in girth and weight, they can grow to nearly 30 feet long and can weigh up to 550 pounds, and can have a girth of up to 1 foot. The female is significantly larger than the male.
Green Anacondas live mainly in the Amazon tropical rainforests and can be found in marshes, swamps and streams. They are very nimble in water but struggle to haul their huge bodies along on land.
Both their eyes and nose are on the top of their heads, meaning they can go almost unnoticed in water, with just the top of their head visible, meaning they are virtually invisible when laying in wait for prey.
Their diet consists of deer, birds, turtles and other small to medium size creatures, they have even been known to take on a Jaguar. They kill their prey by coiling their bodies around them and squeezing the life out of them. Their ultra stretchy mouth allows them to swallow their victim whole, even if it is much bigger than they are and after a particularly large meal, it is possible for them to go months before needing to eat again.
The female anaconda retains her eggs inside her body, before they hatch, giving the appearance that they are born live. They can have up to 36 babies each measuring around 2 feet long at birth, with an almost immediate ability to swim and hunt. They have a life expectancy of around ten years.
The Burmese Python has beautifully patterned skin that resembles the markings of a giraffe, and are known for being very docile and are often kept as pets. However they can grow rapidly and can reach lengths of up to 25 feet, weighing more than 200 pounds, with a girth of up to a foot.
Sadly some pet owner are unable to cope with the size these snakes can reach, and are not properly cared for and are sometimes released into the wild, often with deadly consequences.
Despite being generally docile creatures if they are afraid or hungry, they will attack, and although they are non-venomous their bite and sharp teeth can cause severe lacerations, and if they wrap their powerful bodies around a human, they would potentially squeeze it to death.
In their natural habitat, they can be found in a variety of environments across Southern and South East Asia.
The female who is larger than the male can lay up to 100 eggs; although this is rare and generally it's around 36. The snake will then incubate the eggs until they hatch. When the babies are born they are around 18 inches long, and spend their early life in trees, before becoming too heavy to climb; they then retreat to the ground.
Their diet consists of small mammals and birds, and similarly to the anaconda they constrict their prey until they die, they then swallow them whole and only feed two or three times a year.
The Burmese Python can live up to 25 years in the wild, but sadly due to habitat depletion and demand from humans who hunt them for their skins and flesh, these giant creatures are now becoming a threatened species in the wild. Although their numbers remain high in captivity.
Boa Constrictors are the camellias of the snake world, they can blend into whatever habitat they are living in, and their colours range from green, tan, yellow or red. They can also display a variety of markings on their skin.
Boas can be found in Tropical Central and South America, and are excellent swimmers, although they prefer to live on dryer ground and can often be found curled up in abandoned burrows and hollow logs.
Despite growing up to 13 feet, they are significantly smaller than the Green Anaconda and the Burmese python and weigh half as much at around 100 pounds. They are not fussy with their eating habits and will eat anything from birds to monkeys. They have small hooked teeth that they grab their prey with, before wrapping their bodies around them and squeezing to death, before swallowing whole!
Sadly these snakes are also hunted for their exotic skin and are on the endangered list.
The Indian Python was once common in the Jungles of India, Sri Lanka and the East Indies. It grows up to 20 feet in length, although the largest ever recorded was over 32 feet long. They are thought to be the most ancient species of snake and have tiny projections on their skin that indicate that at one time they may have had legs. They are not venomous but have two rows of very sharp teeth can deliver a very painful bite.
The Python is a constrictor and prefers to eat mammals, and as with the other giant snakes, they kill their prey by suffocation. They are capable of killing a deer and swallowing it whole.
They are solitary creatures and prefer to live alone and only seek out company during the mating season. They can often be seen draped around tree branches waiting for their prey or curled up under bushes or stones ready to ambush.
They can live up to 20 years and are regarded as vital in controlling pests like rats and mice, and it has been proved that in areas where humans have eradicated snakes or destroyed their habitat, these disease-carrying pests have become a serious risk to human health.
In a bid to try and protect wild pythons and reduce poaching; zoos will no longer except pythons that have come from the wild.
The Reticulated Python is regarded as one of the longest of all known snakes and reptiles and can grow more than 20 feet long, weighing up to 350 pounds. It can be found in many countries across South East Asia, and prefers to live near water; their large frame means they are much more agile in water than on land. They have been known to swim in the sea and have made their home on remote islands. Like the Boa they have the ability to blend into their surroundings by changing the coloration and pattern of their skin.
The reticulated python feeds mainly on small or medium mammals, although there is evidence of them killing tigers, panther and even crocodiles. For this reason, they are considered a risk to humans, and attacks on humans have been reported. This Python is perfectly capable of eating a human whole and has been responsible for human fatalities.
They are also perfectly happy living near people and have been known to attack and eat family pets such as dogs and cats, and will not hesitate to defend themselves against anything.
They have the ability to dislocate their jaw to enable them to swallow prey close to their own weight and up to 1/4 their length. However, this takes a toll on their digestive system, and they can take weeks to fully digest their meals.
The female will lay between 15 and eighty eggs and will incubate them by wrapping her body around the eggs and shivering to ensure the temperature for them is regulated. When the eggs hatch the babies measure around 2 feet in length.
Despite the reticulated python being fairly widespread in the wild, it's numbers are dwindling, as it is killed for its skin and on occasions, it falls victim to an Asian ritual of blood drinking or Gall bladder removal.
So sought after is it's skin and flesh that the reticulated python is farmed and there are python farms throughout South East Asia.
Like other large python species such as the Burmese python, these snakes are kept as pets and sometimes let loose in the wild. Both Pythons have been found on a regular basis in Florida.