In an unusual display from the animal kingdom, two dolphins were recently spotted toying with a Beni anaconda in their mouths, swimming down the Tijamuchi River in Bolivia.
The two Bolivian river dolphins, which we can assume were just having a bit of fun, were spotted simply toying with the giant snake, not trying to eat it. Considering the Beni anaconda is quite high up on the food chain in its local Bolivian habitat, it’s a surprise to see one being used as a living pool noodle down a stream by two joyous dolphins. The report on the incident, published in Ecology, detailed that the snake was played with for “seven minutes minimum”.
“Since the snake remained immobile, and was kept underwater for a long period, it is likely that it perished during the interaction, and since it was not floating or with visible signs of decay or injuries, it was likely alive during or shortly before this encounter,” the publication reads.
It truly seems like a strange encounter to witness, made even weirder by the fact that the dolphins were both sexually aroused. Oh, so it’s a sex thing now? Ok, you go you funky dolphins.
“The adult males were sexually aroused while engaging in object play with the anaconda. There were juveniles on the scene as well, and it seemed that the adults were showing off the snake to them,” the publication continues.
There’s still a lot of confusion around the observed event. Is this normal behaviour among dolphins that we just haven’t observed before? Is there a secret war going on between Beni anacondas and Bolivian river dolphins that we’ve just been shown a glimpse of?
“Several questions remain unanswered regarding this rare interaction among river dolphins and anacondas. While playful behaviour is unquestionably common among cetaceans, interacting with and killing large apex predators, such as the Beni anaconda, certainly are rare,” the publication adds.
“Furthermore, the difficulty of gathering dietary data on river dolphins also precludes us from inferring whether snakes represent an occasional food item or were merely used as a playful, possibly teaching, item.”
The publication concludes that further field observations, including the use of cameras and diet analysis, could answer some of the questions researchers have.
While these dolphins had no problems with the act, please don’t show your snake to juveniles.