HIS species is revered as among the heaviest and longest in the world; yet just how much Grumpy the green anaconda weighs remains a mystery.
That’s about to change, with the popular snake’s bulk the subject of intense local speculation.
Grumpy has grown in length and girth since taking up residence at Elgin’s F.P. Birnie Pet Shop following his rescue three years ago.
However, his nature – at times crotchety – means he requires careful handling and has never been properly measured.
Now, locals are being asked to ‘Guess Grumpy’s weight’, with all cash going to the Scottish Exotic Animal Rescue (SEAR) charity.
Anyone who would like to enter can visit Grumpy in his heated enclosure at the High Street shop, which has been in the hands of the Birnie family since opening in 1950.
Guesses will go in an envelope, along with £1, and the winner – who will receive a cuddly crocodile – will be selected after Grumpy’s statistics are jotted down at the end of February. Competition updates will appear on the shop’s Facebook page – F.P. Birnie Pet Shop.
The weigh-in will take place at a special training evening for veterinary nurses in the area, during which they will be given the chance to handle some of the reptiles in store.
Andrew Birnie, who runs the shop with his dad Ferguson, explained: “Nick Martin, who owns Grumpy after rescuing him, will be there, as will other experienced hands so we can have Grumpy weighed and measured. I think three people should be enough to handle him. You can handle a big Burmese python easily; you can go on holiday and have it round your neck. But to try and restrain an anaconda needs a wee bit more finesse.
“We’re planning to sex him as well, just to see if he is a Grumpy or a Grumpette. The evening is being run really to give the veterinary nurses a chance to handle some of these animals,” said Mr Birnie, whose grandfather Ferg – a keen budgie breeder and exhibitor – set up the shop 63 years ago.
With baby-bearded dragons, crested geckos and Horsefield tortoises among other animals in Birnie’s vivariums, the veterinary nurses will be kept busy.
Grumpy may be large, but he’s got some way to go if he’s to make it into the record books. Green anacondas have an average length of 18ft, can weigh up to 35 stones and have a girth of nearly 30cm. Females are significantly larger than males. According to reports, one of the biggest ever caught and properly measured was a 37.5 ft female, found near the border between Colombia and Venezuela in 1944. It slithered away before it could be weighed.