"Amazon Snake Mystery"

Around Iquitos, Loreto

Location of Iquitos on Rio Marañón, with surrounding rivers.
click to enlarge

We made several trips to film at wildlife related locations around Iquitos.

In Iquitos itself we visited the IRENA* offices to examine some of the skins, heads and stuffed Amazonian animals confiscated from markets and smugglers, including a large anaconda skin.

INRENA Iquitos.







The skin was easily 6.0m long without the head attached but although some people might think skins shrink so the anaconda must have been much larger in life, the reverse is the case.

With large constrictors like boas, anacondas and pythons the connective tissue between the skin and the body is so strong that real force is required to remove it and application of this force cannot avoid stretching the skin. FI have conducted experiments with large dead pythons (that died of natural causes) on two occasions, measuring the dead snake, removing the skin as carefully as possible and then measured the skin. I found that on both occasions the skins were still stretched by 20-25% which means a 6.0m skin indicates a much smaller 4.5-4.8m anaconda.

* INRENA = Instituto Nacional de Recurosus Naturales - Peru's wildlife protection agency.


Boa constrictor and anaconda skins. Caiman heads, stuffed boas and jaguar claws.
Skull of Black caiman, Melanosuchus niger, at INRENA

We also visited two locations on the Rio Momon, a tributary of the Rio Nanay, itself a tributary of the Rio Manañón, which is reached by river boat departing from Bella Vista.

At the Serpentario Javier Las Boas we filmed a captive Green anaconda (Eunectes murinus) and a Mata mata turtle (Chelus fimbriatus) as well as Spectacled caiman (Caiman crocodilus crocodilus), Schneider's smooth-fronted dwarf caiman (Paleosuchus trigonatus) and juvenile Yellow-spotted river turtle (Podocnemis unifilis).

Serpentario Javier Las Boas
Green anaconda,
Eunectes murinus


Spectacled caiman, Caiman crocodilus crocodilus
Schneider's smooth-fronted dwarf caiman, Paleosuchus trigonatus
Yellow-spotted river turtle, Podocnemis unifilis (juvenile)
Mata mata turtle, Chelus fimbriatus



Pilpintuwasi, Padre Cocha

Further upstream we visited the Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm and Animal Sanctuary, Padre Cocha, where wildlife rescued from smugglers and orphaned mammals are raised by the Austrian founder Gudrun Sperrer.


Red uakari monkey,
Cacajao calvus rubicundus
Giant anteater,
Myrmecophaga tridactyla

Further out of Iquitos still we filmed with the base of the Peruvian 1st Jungle Navy Infantry Battalion to observe jungle training and meet the anacondas they used for training.

Mark and the Peruvian Marines with a green anaconda.