Incredible photos show a fight to the death between a 28-foot-long anaconda and a crocodile in the murky waters of an Amazon rainforest swamp.
Wildlife photographer Kevin Dooley, 58, was having his lunch in the tropical wetlands of Pantanal, Brazil, when he turned around to find the snake locked in a bitter fight with a caiman – one of the smallest crocodile species.
Mr Dooley watched as the anaconda constricted the six-foot-long caiman in such a way that it broke all of the reptile’s legs, before the crocodile managed to bite back and sink its teeth into the snake’s neck.
However, the anaconda came off better and slithered away into the water, leaving the badly-injured caiman to its fate. Mr Dooley said the reptile later died.
Photographer Kevin Dooley, 58, was on a tour of Pantanal, in Brazil, when he saw an anaconda fighting with a caiman in tropical wetland. The snake had wrapped itself around the crocodile and constricted its body in such a way that all four of its legs were broken. The crocodile eventually managed to bite the snake’s neck, but was unable to seriously hurt it
Once the fight was over, Mr Dooley said the anaconda – which he estimated to be 28ft long – slithered away into the water. While anacondas do eat caiman, on this occasion the snake chose not to, and instead left the crippled animal to its fate. Mr Dooley said that, in all likelihood, the caiman died some time later
Mr Dooley, from Albuquerque, New Mexico, US said: ‘I was sitting in a boat having our lunch when this happened. I couldn’t believe it all.
Feeling the squeeze: How anacondas kill their prey
The green anaconda is the largest species of snake in the world – growing up to 30ft in length and weighing up to 550lbs. While reticulated pythons often grow longer than this, they only tend to weigh half as much.
Found in the jungles of South America, anacondas kill by wrapping their long bodies around their prey and then constricting with powerful muscles. As the prey exhales the anaconda’s muscles tighten, slowly restricting the prey’s lungs until it asphyxiates.
Like most snakes, the anaconda can unhinge its jaws and swallow prey larger than its own body. It will feed on a variety of large animals including pigs, deer, caiman, birds, fish, and large rodents such as capybara.
Green anacondas have been known to attack children, but most of these do not prove fatal, and there are no verified fatal attacks on adults.
‘I heard all of this splashing, and when I looked I could see the caiman was suffering.
‘The anaconda just kept strangling the caiman. It had even broken all of the caimans legs.’
The wildlife photographer said he was sitting around 30ft away from the animals eating his lunch when he ‘turned to the right and witnessed an amazing site.’
He added: ‘It all happened in around eight minutes.
‘I think eventually the anaconda ran out of oxygen and had to let go of the caiman.
‘And at that point, the caiman then bit into the snake.
‘But the snake managed to get away and slither out, I think eventually the caiman died.’
Mr Dooley said this was a rare occasion in his photography career and thinks he will ‘be waiting a long time to see this happen again.’
He added: ‘I felt very blessed and very lucky and somewhat sad for the caiman.
‘I never thought in my life I would witness something like this.’
The caiman did manage to bite the anaconda’s neck, but only after the snake had finished constricting it in such a way that all its legs were broken. Anaconda’s usually kill by constriction, slowly tightening around their prey until it asphyxiates. On this occasion, however, the anaconda left while the caiman was still alive – suggesting that it did not target the crocodile as prey, and may have been attacked first
Green anacondas, such as the one photographed by Mr Dooley, are the largest species of snake in the world – growing up to 30ft long and weighing up to 550lbs. While reticulated pythons often grow longer, they have thinner bodies and tend to weigh only half that of the largest anacondas
Anacondas and caiman both inhabit the waterways of Brazil where the employ similar hunting tactics – laying low in the water with only their eyes visible until unsuspecting prey comes close enough to strike. While caiman will eat almost anything they can kill, anacondas are not typical prey – with the crocodiles instead eating fish, mammals and birds
Mr Dooley did not see the start of the fight between the anaconda and caiman, so was unable to say which attacked the other, although the snake certainly came off better. While the caiman was able to bite the snake as it uncoiled itself (pictured), the snake slithered off into the water while the crocodile was left with all its legs broken and likely died