9:12pm PT by Kimberly Nordyke
'Eaten Alive': Here's What Happens When a Man Gets Swallowed by a Giant Snake (or Not)
We all knew that Paul Rosolie didn't die — he has, after all, given media interviews in recent days. But just how did his attempt at getting "eaten alive" by a mega-anaconda turn out?
Viewers of Discovery Channel's Sunday night special, appropriately titled Eaten Alive, were treated to footage of how it all went down.
"The Amazon is the greatest natural battlefield on Earth. Everything, from the biggest tree to the smallest ant, is going to be eaten," Rosolie says near the beginning of the two-hour special.
Of the anaconda, he says it's "the most terrifying species in the Amazon. We're dealing with power that's very difficult to even imagine, and I'm going to be in search of one individual snake that I know could be the largest snake on the planet."
He explains that the reason he wanted to perform the stunt — in which the strategy was to find the serpent, entice it to eat him and hope that he could either be pulled out once the snake had ingested him up to waist level, or perhaps startle the snake into regurgitating him — was to draw attention to the ecological crisis currently threatening the West Amazon from mining, illegal logging and rapid deforestation.
His journey takes him to a remote part of the Amazon called the Floating Forest, where he is in search of an anaconda he encountered years ago that he believes is the largest on Earth, surpassing a previously caught anaconda that measured at 24 feet, 7 inches. On his first encounter, he jumped on the snake's back, only to be dragged into the water and forced to jump off to save his life.
A good portion of the special is spent following Rosolie and his team as they track the anaconda. Once found, the serpent proves elusive. Rosolie sees it in the murky water and dives after it. He says it's at least 25 feet long.
Using nighttime surveillance, since the giant snakes are hard to spot during the day, the team decides to go after the snake when it's out hunting at night for prey. In another attempt to capture it, Rosolio grabs its tail but can't keep hold: "I felt myself getting ripped off my feet, holding the tail of a snake that felt like it was a team of horses. I came out, and I was absolutely shaking."
It's too dangerous to continue searching for that particular snake, as the rainy season has now arrived. After securing a smaller anaconda, Rosolie puts on a one-of-a-kind suit soaked "head to toe in pig's blood, so I really smell like dinner to this animal," he explains.
The snake does, in fact, take the bait. It coils around Rosolie and eventually renders him unable to move. At one point, he says he cannot feel his arms at all and is unable to move as he struggles to turn his body. His heart rate soars above 180.
Then the snake looks as if it's going to eat him. It opens its jaws onto his helmet, but then Rosolie says his arm feels like it's about to break, and he calls the whole thing off before being rescued.
Later he explains: "I felt her jaws lock onto my helmet. I felt her gurgling and wheezing, but then I felt her let go. She got my arm into a position where her force was fully on my exposed arm. I started to feel the blood drain out of my hand, and I felt the bone flex. And when I got to the point where I felt like it was going to snap, I had to tap out."
He adds that if he hadn't had the suit, "my ribcage would have lasted 10 seconds at best." Now that he knows the suit will protect him, "I'm ready to take this to a real giant," he says, adding that he plans to continue searching for the one that got away.
As for the snake? It was unharmed and released back into the environment.