The Cryptid Zoo: Giant Snakes

Giant snakes are a staple of world mythology, and they continue to be sighted today by witnesses that would normally be deemed reliable. Some giant snakes are simply bigger than any example of their particular species is supposed to get. Other giant snakes are bigger than any species of snake is supposed to get, including some reports of giants so big that they should be able to swallow an elephant without any trouble.

Humans have a certain adult size. When you reach the size determined by your own genetics, you stop getting bigger. Snakes grow according to a different plan. They often continue getting bigger well after adulthood. Potentially, this could mean that giant snakes are simply very old animals that are otherwise ordinary.
Record-breaking giant snakes are sometimes confirmed as real, but the biggest ones still remain unconfirmed. This photo is copyrighted by those who own the copyright to the book cover for 'Tales of Giant Snakes' by John C. Murphy and Robert W. Henderson.
However, at some maximum size, the snake should die because it would need special adaptations internally in order to keep its internal organs from being crushed under its own weight.

Scientists tend to think that this maximum size is much smaller than many of the sightings indicate. However, a snake that spent most or all of its time in the water could "cheat" some, because the water would help it support its weight. In harmony with this theory, a large percentage of giant snake reports involve water-dwelling species of snake.

Other theories are not about old snakes of a known species, but about some undiscovered species of snakes. The fossil record contains many presumably extinct examples of giant snakes, some of them almost unbelievably huge. For example, some of these prehistoric snakes once lived in Thailand, where similar snakes are still reported from the rivers.

Unlike the case with mammals, new species of reptiles are discovered all the time. Biologists expect many more species of lizards, snakes and turtles to be discovered for years to come. This means that discovering a new species of giant snake would be much more likely to happen than is the case with most of the cryptids listed on this website.

A creature of especial interest in the study of giant snakes is the giant anaconda. The normal anaconda is the world's largest snake. However, there are sightings every year of anacondas that are much bigger than the biggest recorded anaconda. The biggest of these giant anacondas have features that do not seem like anacondas. Since the anaconda is primarily a water-dwelling snake, the giant anaconda could fit with either of the two major theories about giant snakes. If they are not mistaken, these sightings could represent overgrown, old individuals, or there could be some new species of snake living in the Amazon Rainforest that is bigger than the anaconda.

The reason that cryptozoologists show so much interest in the giant anaconda is because there is much better evidence for it than for any other kind of giant snake. In fact, the evidence is far better than Bigfoot footprints. It is known that normal anacondas leave a special kind of track when traveling across mudflats from one swampy area to another. You can tell what size the snake is by looking at the width of the track. Many tracks of the giant anaconda have been found in remote areas. Hoaxing these tracks would take far more expertise than hoaxing the footprints of a Bigfoot. You can't get near without creating your own tracks too, unless you had a helicopter, and even then the difficulties involved in making six-foot-wide tracks that had all the characteristics of a heavy giant snake would be staggering.

This is the prime reason that cryptozoologists concentrate on giant anaconda reports more than any other kind of giant snake. This is one cryptid that has even drawn a lot of attention from normal biologists, a rare event in the field of cryptozoology. This is true despite the fact that the giant anaconda is wrapped up in as much mythology as any truly mythical creature. It is alledged by local residents to reside in a secret enchanted city at the bottom of the river, and it is sometimes thought to shapeshift into a man or woman to attend parties, like the folk hero named Cobra Norato. The giant anaconda has glowing eyes, commands whirlpools, and is associated with ghosts and phantoms of all kinds, including a phantom island and a phantom riverboat. It might sound like a silly creature with all this folklore, but there are enough plausible, ordinary sightings that, combined with the physical evidence, it makes a good case for a possible new animal.

Other than the giant anaconda, reports of giant snakes tend to seem less plausible and are often embarassing to cryptozoologists. Many of them get classified either as dragons or as lake monsters, depending on the exact features present. One example of a fairly mythical giant snake is the "crowing crested cobra" which is reported from at least seven different nations in Africa. Growing up to 20 feet, longer than the longest known venomous snakes, these giant cobras reportedly crow like a rooster, have a comb like a rooster, and are amazingly poisonous. All of these characteristics are quite reminiscent of the basilisk, a legendary snake/rooster monster.

You can find out more about Giant Snakes from the following sources:

Clark, Jerome and Coleman, Loren. Cryptozoology A-Z. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1999. Pages 86-88, 160

Coleman, Loren. Mysterious America: The Revised Edition. New York: Paraview Press, 2001. Pages 9, 29, 38, 76-82

Giant Anaconda

The Giant Anaconda

Hall, Jamie. Half Human, Half Animal: Tales of Werewolves and Related Creatures. Bloomington, Indiana: Authorhouse, 2003. Pages 157-160, 166-167, 169-171

Justice, Aaron. Giant Anaconda
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Keel, John A. The Complete Guide to Mysterious Beings. New York: Doubleday, 1994. Pages 43-45

Newton, Michael. Encyclopedia of Cryptozoology: A Global Guide to Hidden Animals and Their Pursuers. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, 2005. Pages 15, 22-23, 39, 56-57, 59, 72, 77, 89, 93, 111, 114, 119, 122-123, 126, 131, 137, 147, 154, 163-164, 172, 182-184, 192, 201-202, 207, 216, 226, 237, 241, 247, 250-251, 254-256, 270, 297-298, 314, 316, 318, 321, 327, 331, 335, 337, 343, 345, 369-370, 387-388, 395, 404-405, 407, 410-411, 414, 420, 422, 427, 435, 439, 443-444, 449, 451, 462, 468, 471, 488, 493, 506

Randolph, Vance. We Always Lie to Strangers: Tall Tales From the Ozarks. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1974. Pages 136-139

Tyler, Royall, ed. Japanese Tales. New York: Pantheon Books, 1987. Pages 194-196

Wikipedia, The. Anaconda

Wikipedia, The. Naga

Woodyard, Chris. Haunted Ohio II: More Ghostly Tales from the Buckeye State. Beavercreek, Ohio: Kestrel Publications, 1992. Pages 95-96, 107-109

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