The following supposedly comes from a Peace Corps manual, but if it does, we are in serious trouble.
- Do not run. The snake is faster than you are.
- Lie flat on the ground, put your arms tight against your sides and your legs tight against each other.
- Tuck your chin in.
- The snake will being to nudge and climb over your body.
- Do not panic.
- The snake will begin to swallow your feet first.
- You must lie perfectly still. This will take a long time.
- When the snake has reached your knees, reach down, take your knife, slide it into the side of the snake’s mouth between the edge of its mouth and your leg. Quickly rip upward, severing the snake’s head.
- Be sure you have your knife.
- Be sure your knife is sharp
This is great fun. The best part is the information that the snake is faster than we are. Who ever knew that slithering was such an efficient means of travel? “In this lane: Usain Bolt; and in this lane, any freaking anaconda you might run into”? That was a terrifying thought. But also, somehow, wonderfully funny. Then there is the whole step number five: do not panic! That kind of goes along with all the steps, right? If I were to write a list of what I would do, it would be something like this: 1. Panic; 2. Wet your pants; 3. Scream; 4. Repeat as needed. Of course, what’s most funny are numbers nine and ten: the “Oh! By the way!” steps. There really should be an eleventh step, “Don’t wait until an anaconda attacks to read this.”
I Smell a Rat Swallowed by a Snake
Something about this list did not seem quite right. True, on reading it, I immediately decided never to visit the Amazon. But the rest, although hilarious, seemed questionable. Sure, the basic idea seemed good: wait until the snake is helpless and kill it. That’s advice we can all use in all aspects of our lives, not just our run-ins with 20 foot long snakes. But other things? “The snake will nudge and climb over your body”? What is it? A squirrel? An average adult anaconda weighs about 350 pounds. Okay, maybe. And what is that about lying perfectly still? Is this to trick the snake into thinking we are dead? Because if that’s the case, I have this feeling it wouldn’t eat us. Most animals don’t dig on eating dead animals that they find lying around. It’s kind of like us picking up a discarded bag of chips off the road and eating what remains inside. Sure, some people do it; but its not our MO.
A little research goes a long way. In this case, it proves that this recipe for surviving an anaconda attack is complete bunk. Even if everything else where true, this technique would not work. The problem is that all snakes swallow their prey headfirst. “Wait until the snake has swallowed you up to your shoulders”? I don’t think so—especially if it “will take a long time”!
But there is good news! Anacondas are not faster than we are. Not even close. They aren’t even faster when we are on crutches. Anacondas have a maximum speed of about 1 mile per hour. That’s about a third of our walking speed. So yeah, it would be hard to crawl away from an anaconda. My recommendation is that you not try to get away from an anaconda by crawling.
Another reason not to worry: there seems to be no known case of an anaconda ever eating an adult human. Yes, they have occasionally killed humans. But they don’t eat us. This is generally true of wild animals. Humans are too bony and don’t have enough fat. That’s right, they’re just like us: they want creme brulee and we taste like broccoli.