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NJ should call Turtleman to help catch anaconda in lake

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A large snake identified as a green anaconda is on the loose in northern New Jersey. Maybe Ernie Brown, Jr. (aka the Turtleman) the star of the highly popular reality TV show, “Call of the Wildman” on Animal Planet should be contacted.

Ernie has safely caught many creatures including large venomous snakes, snapping turtles and various mammals. What a story and a fete this would be if Ernie and his sideshow made an appearance. The show which has been on the air since the fall of 2011 has offered some silly and crazy moments from the Turtleman and his crew.

The anaconda was spotted over a week ago in Lake Hopatcong, the largest freshwater body in New Jersey. The large popular lake has a surface area of 4 square miles and is located in Morris and Sussex counties in the northern part of the state.

Originally reported to be a boa constrictor the snake has been confirmed by a wildlife expert to be a green anaconda. He and other animal control officers are hoping to catch the snake before someone kills it or it kills someone’s pet or even a human.

Local officials have tried to play down the story which has gained national attention. Anyone who spots the snake should not try to capture it, but should call their local police department.

Several residents of the lake area have spotted the snake which is estimated to be about 15 or 16 feet. But, no one has yet been able to photograph it.

It is believed according to a reliable account that the snake ate a raccoon on Tuesday, so it won’t have to feed for quite some time. Anacondas can go weeks or months without food after a big meal.

A member of the boa family, South America’s green anaconda is, pound for pound, the largest snake in the world. Green anacondas can grow to more than 29 feet weigh more than 550 pounds and measure more than 12 inches in diameter.

They typically live in swamps, marshes, and slow-moving streams, mainly in the tropical rain forests of the Amazon and Orinoco basins. They are cumbersome on land, but stealthy and sleek in the water.

They reach their large size feeding on a diet of wild pigs, deer, birds, turtles, capybara, caimans, and even jaguars. Anacondas are nonvenomous constrictors, coiling their muscular bodies around captured prey and squeezing until the animal asphyxiates. Then they swallow their prey whole.

Their lifespan in the wild is about ten years. But this snake will probably die in the lake in the fall when water temperatures fall to around 60 degrees.

Lake Hopatcong once had another legendary inhabitant, first spotted in the late 1800’s. A sea monster aptly named "Hoppie", a name taken from Hopatcong was described as having the head of a dog and the body of a 40-foot serpent. The legend stated that Hoppie ate fishermen and boaters before it was caught and killed.

It is unfortunate when we hear of stories about such creatures being discarded in environments out of their realm. Occasionally we hear of piranha, large snakes and even alligators which have been released in the local area.

The result is usually death to native creatures which are taken as prey and then usually death to the discarded wildlife itself when our weather turns cold.

So Turtleman if you get a call, come to Jersey and save this anaconda.

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