What’s the World’s Biggest Snake that Lives in a Zoo?

Written by Megan Martin
Published: October 21, 2022
© Patrick K. Campbell/Shutterstock.com
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The world is full of interesting — and large — animals. While many of the largest animals in the world cannot fit into zoos or aquariums, some supersized specimens still manage to make their way in, including snakes. Below, you’ll be able to learn about some of these snakes, including the biggest snake that lives in a zoo.

Ready to learn more about these supersized serpents? Keep reading. 

Biggest Snake in a Zoo

The biggest snake to have lived in a zoo was Baby, a female Burmese python living in Serpent Safari inside the Gurnee Mills Mall in Gurnee, Illinois. Serpent Safari opened in 1999 but closed in 2013, and Baby spent most of her life there.

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When alive, Baby was confirmed by Guinness World Records as the heaviest living snake in a zoo. She also was considered to be the largest Burmese python at the time. At almost 19 feet long, Baby weighed a whopping 403 pounds. That’s the same as an adult lion or gorilla!

burmese python (Python molurus bivittatus)
Burmese pythons seize their prey with teeth that face the rear, then coil around its body until it suffocates.

©Irina oxilixo Danilova/Shutterstock.com

Biggest Snake that Lives in Captivity

Although Baby was the biggest snake that lived in a zoo, she wasn’t the largest snake in captivity. That honor goes to the Guinness World Record holder for being the longest snake in captivity, Medusa, a reticulated python .

Medusa is currently living at The Edge of Hell haunted house in Kansas City, Missouri, USA. She is owned by Full Moon Productions Inc, the agency behind the haunted house. When she received her record in 2011, she was over 25 feet long. Reticulated pythons are known for their length, but they rarely reach over 20 feet long.

Biggest Snakes: The Reticulated Python
Reticulated pythons can reach 20 feet long and weigh up to 440 pounds.

©Opayaza12/Shutterstock.com

Biggest Snake on Record

Although Baby was the biggest snake that lives in a zoo, and Medusa is the largest snake in captivity, there are still snakes even bigger. In fact, the biggest snake on record in nearly 10 feet longer than even Medusa!

One of the largest snakes on record was an anaconda found in South America. On average, anacondas are around the same size as snakes like Medusa. However, this particular anaconda was 33 feet long. That’s the same as half a bowling lane! This snake also weighed around 880 pounds, the same as a monster truck tire. 

What Do Anacondas Eat - Pet Anaconda
Anacondas are some of the only snakes capable of eating a human, though such incidents are rare.

©Holger Kirk/Shutterstock.com

Biggest Snake of the Past

Unfortunately, we’ve missed out on seeing some of the largest animals in the world. This includes the largest snake to have ever lived: the Titanaboa. 

The Titanaboa existed in the time of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals that we can only learn about through fossils. Their main source of food was fish, although their size made it appear like that could take on even some of the largest animals around them. 

Titanaboa model, National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC.
Scientists believe that the titanboa (extinct) was the largest snake that ever lived.

© CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Biggest Snakes in the World

When it comes to the biggest snake, there can be some debate. This is because snakes come in many different sizes. As a result, one snake may be longer than another snake, but it may weigh less. Because of this, it’s important to know whether you’re wanting to learn about the longest snake or the heaviest snake.

Don’t worry, though: we have the answers to both for you below.

What Is the Longest Snake?

The longest snake in the world is the reticulated python. That’s right — the same as Medusa, the biggest snake that lives in captivity. 

There are three subspecies of reticulated python. As mentioned previously, they usually don’t get as large as Medusa, however. Most typically grow to be anywhere from 10 to 20 feet long. While they’re not the heaviest snake in the world, they can weigh several hundred pounds. 

What Is the Heaviest Snake?

While reticulated pythons may have other snakes beat when it comes to length, there is one type of snake that takes the record of being the heaviest species. That goes to the green anaconda

Also known as the sucuri, common water boa, common anaconda, and giant anaconda, the green anaconda is one of many boa species found in South America. However, you don’t need to worry about confusing them with any of their relatives. As the heaviest snake in the world, and one of the longest, there’s no missing a green anaconda when they’re in the area.

Like other species of boa, the green anaconda is not venomous. Instead, it uses its weight in order to capture its food, wrapping its body around potential prey to suffocate it before consuming it whole. They can grow to be up to 15 feet long, and they weigh reach an average weight of 550 pounds.

anaconda
Green anacondas are the heaviest snakes alive today, weighing an average of 550 pounds.

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Biggest Snakes: The Green Anaconda
The Green Anaconda give birth to live young, that are about two feet long when they are born.
© Patrick K. Campbell/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I'm a writer with almost five years of experience. I recently graduated from Wingate University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and a double minor in biology and professional and technical writing. I love everything animals and nature related! The American kestrel is my favorite animal, but I also like sharks and alligators. In my free time, I like to watch documentaries and explore nature.

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Sources
  1. Guinness World Records, Available here: https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/longest-snake-ever-(captivity)