How to Survive an Anaconda Attack

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Anaconda. Brad Wilson / Getty Images

Synopsis: The viral text quoted below purports to share instructions from a U.S. government Peace Corps manual on what to do if an anaconda or python attacks you in the wild. My advice? Think twice before following this advice.

Description: Viral joke
Circulating since: 1998?
Status: False (details below)


Anaconda Attack

The following is from the US Government Peace Corps Manual for its volunteers who work in the Amazon Jungle. It tells what to do in case an anaconda attacks you.

1. If you are attacked by an anaconda do not run. The snake is faster than you are.

2. Lie flat on the ground. Put your arms tight against your sides, your legs tight against one another.

3. Tuck your chin in.

4. The snake will come and begin to nudge and climb over your body.

5. Do not panic.

6. After the snake has examined you, it will begin to swallow you from the feet and always from the end. Permit the snake to swallow your feet and ankles. Do not panic.

7. The snake will now begin to suck your legs into its body. You must lie perfectly still. This will take a long time.

8. When the snake has reached your knees slowly and with as little movement as possible, reach down, take your knife and very gently slide it into the side of the snake's mouth between the edge of its mouth and your leg, then suddenly rip upwards, severing the snake's head.

9. Be sure you have your knife.

10. Be sure your knife is sharp.

Email text contributed by Dan M., May 24, 1999

Analysis: I'm informed that really large snakes such as anacondas and pythons typically throttle their prey to death (or at least to unconsciousness) before swallowing it head (not feet) first, so one might do well to seek snake attack survival guidance from a more reputable source.

In point of fact, the above text, which has circulated online in more or less this form since 1998, is an obvious spoof. It was never, so far as I've been able to determine, published in any Peace Corps instruction manual. Its true origin remains unknown. One participant in a message board discussion claimed to have read it in Mad magazine some years ago, but I haven't been able to verify that.

Internet and tabloid lore notwithstanding, snakes have rarely, if ever, been known to swallow full-grown human beings.

Last updated: 10/04/15