Saturday, August 08, 2009
AUBREY: GIANT SNAKES (FOR GOODNESS SAKES)
How would you like to possibly earn $50,000? The Wildlife Conservation
Society, as far as I read, is still offering a $50,000 reward for any snake at least 30 feet long. It must be delivered alive and in good health,
accompanied by all necessary permits and paperwork, to the Bronx Zoo in New York City. Now, before you embark on the Great Snake Hunt, there's something you should know.
The reward was first offered in the early 1900s by President Theodore
Roosevelt, a close friend of William T. Hornaday, the Bronx Zoo's director
at the time. And the money--initially $1,000, then $10,000, and now
$50,000--is still unclaimed. Why? Because it's quite possible that snakes don't grow that large.
Throughout history explorers' tales abound of giant snakes measuring 30, 40, and even 50 feet in length. For example, in 1907 a British adventurer named Percy Fawcett claimed to have shot a giant anaconda (Eunectes murinus) measuring 62 feet. Since Fawcett didn't think to bring back the carcass, few people believed his claim.
Guiness Book of World Records credits a reticulated python (Python reticulatus) that was slain on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi in 1912 as the longest snake ever reliably measured. According to Guinness, this whopper was 39.4 feet in length. A close second, Guinness maintains, was a 38.3-foot African rock python (Python sebae) shot on the Ivory Coast in 1932.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Richard Freeman would love to see these citations, because the largest snake of which we were aware was indeed shot in Sulawesi, we think in 1912, but we believe that it was a mere 33ft.
While there are those that claim 40 foot Anacondas exist, scientific studies indicate otherwise. In a recent survey of more than 1,000 wild anacondas in Brazil, the largest was around 17 feet and 100 pounds. So to claim there are anacondas out there 50, 80, 100 or even 120 feet long, slithering around in Peru or anywhere else in South America, I find ridiculous. You stand as great a chance of finding a 100-foot snake as you would a 40 pound pigeon. Good luck with that.