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Anaconda is the world's heaviest snake and naturally lives in swamps around the Amazon.

The sudden death of this anaconda in Norway led to an unusual necropsy

The beast weighed 75 kilograms and was 6 metres long. 

It was a slightly 'longer' working day than normal for the Norwegian Veterinary Institute when a reptile over 6 metres long and weighing 75 kilograms had to be necropsied. 

An anaconda died suddenly, and to find the cause of death, the carcass was sent to the institute in Ås for necropsy and examination.

From the Amazon to Hallingdal

The anaconda is a constrictor snake and is the world's heaviest snake. It naturally lives in swamps around the Amazon. 

The snake can weigh over 100 kilograms and grow between 6 and 9 metres long. 

It is also found in zoos in many countries, including Norway.

The anaconda that ended its days on the autopsy table in Ås lived in the Bear Park in Hallindal, when it suddenly died.

Lesions were found in the intestine, which is typical for a salmonella infection.

What is a necropsy?

Necropsy is a systematic external and internal medical examination of a deceased animal to detect or exclude changes caused by disease or injury and to determine the cause of death.

Only the Norwegian Veterinary Institute is authorised to make a disease diagnosis through animal autopsies, more commonly referred to as necropsies.

(Source: Great Norwegian Encyclopedia (link in Norwegian))

A varied menu 

According to the Great Norwegian Encyclopedia, the anaconda is a nocturnal constrictor snake. It typically hunts in water by swimming submerged with only its eyes and nostrils above the water's surface. From there, it attacks animals that come to the water's edge to drink.

Mammals, birds, reptiles, and fish are included on its menu. Large snakes sometimes manage to capture mammals as large as deer, tapirs, and hippos.

Cannibalism occurs. It is usually a female that eats a male.

There are assertions that it can potentially kill and consume humans, but there is a lack of strong evidence to support this claim.

Not an everyday occurance

It is not often that the Norwegian Veterinary Institute receive an anaconda or other unusual reptiles or animals on its autopsy table in its facilities. 

However, it can happen if the animal owner wishes to find out why a healthy animal has suddenly died.

Nodular lesions were found in the intestine of the anaconda. This is typical for salmonella infection.

"It can be important to find the reason why an animal in a herd has died, especially in cases where an infectious disease is suspected," Kristian Hoel says. He is section head of pathology at the Norwegian Veterinary Institute.

He indicates that conducting a necropsy can be an important tool for identifying the root cause and associated factors of various medical conditions.

Pathology and disease diagnosis

When carrying out necropsies of animals, the Norwegian Veterinary Institute contributes with its experts in pathology and disease diagnosis.

Necropsies also provide opportunities to research ovarious diseases. They contribute to even more knowledge about the animals.

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