01. The Jaguar
The Jaguar is the top predator of the amazon rainforest animals and the most powerful wild cat in the Western Hemisphere. The jaguar is regarded as the fiercest of all animals in the cat family and the third largest cat in the world (after the tiger and lion). It is an excellent hunter, and can easily attack and kill its prey. Even though jaguars are often yellow and black in color, there are some that are white.
The jaguar is a powerful hunter, thanks to its heavily-muscled forearms and shoulders. It is more heavily built than the leopard, with a broader head and shorter legs and tail. The jaguar has a rough tongue specially designed to help it peel off the skin and separate the flesh from the bones of its prey.
The jaguar hunts deer, tapirs, peccaries, pacas and capybaras. This wild cat is a good swimmer and can comfortably wade in water to catch fish, turtles and even caiman. Jaguars seldom attack human beings – it is humans who pose a threat to this animal.
Jaguars are endangered due to reckless hunting.
02. The Macaw
Commonly regarded as the largest among the parrot family, the Macaw is truly a unique bird. Macaws have a long, hooked beak suitable for eating fruits, nuts and seeds.
Known for their loud calls and bright colors, macaws are recognized worldwide and appreciated for their beauty and for their ability to bond with their owners. They are very social animals and often gather in hundreds to feed.
Macaws are very smart. They have an exceptional memory and are able to talk if they are taught. Their average lifespan in the wild is 60 years. When kept in captivity, with proper care and in the company of other macaws, they can live to the age of 70.
Macaws build their nests high in the canopy layer of the forest where they mate for life. Usually loving and intelligent, scarlet macaws are arguably the most striking of all macaws, something that makes them vulnerable to bird poachers.
There are 17 species of macaws. Like other tropical rainforest animals, the Macaw is an endangered species due to poaching, deforestation and hunting.
03. The Toucan
The Toucan is one of the best known birds in the world. Living on the canopy of the Amazon rainforest, the Toucan is commonly distinguished by its large and colorful beak. Its tongue is flat and nearly as long as the beak. Depending on the species, toucan beaks can be either black, red, white, blue or combinations of these colors. Despite its length, the beak is very light since it is hollow on the inside.
The toucan is one of the noisiest birds in the rainforest. Its call can actually be heard over a half a mile radius. Toucans feed on fruits, insects and the eggs and nestlings of small or medium-sized birds.
Toucans have small wings. Although they are able to fly, their wings do not let them stay in the air for long. To get around, they hop between tree branches using their sharp claws to get a grip. Female toucans lay 2 to 4 eggs per year.
Toucans are very adaptable to human environments and, like macaws, they are often used as pets. The native Amazon Indians regard the toucan as a sacred bird and a bridge between men and the spirit world.
These cute animals are not considered to be endangered.
04. The Squirrel Monkey
The squirrel monkey is a common sight in this rainforest. Squirrel monkeys are agile climbers and leapers, and use their very long tails for support and balance. They have a soft and silky fur and their tail is as long as their body.
Their predators include snakes, wild cats and birds of prey. To hide from these predators, squirrel monkeys spend the majority of their time in the middle layer of the rainforest where they feed on fruits, flowers, tender leaves, grasshoppers, caterpillars, butterflies, lizards and other small insects.
Squirrel monkeys live in large social groups, containing 20 to 200 animals called “troops”. Older females without infants act as baby-sitters, helping young mothers to look after their infants.
Squirrel monkeys communicate through vocal signals. Mothers can tell if their infants are healthy by listening to their sounds (grumbles, cackling, purrs). Adult monkeys use calls to signal danger, display excitement and to establish contact with their troop when they are separated.
Although they are cute, squirrel monkeys are wild animals and must be handled with care.
Squirrel monkeys can live in captivity for up to 20 years. Their lifespan in the wild is unknown. These monkeys are commonly used for entertainment and animal testing.
There is some debate about the survival status of this monkey. Some experts believe squirrel monkeys may be endangered.
05. The Marmoset
The marmoset is the world’s smallest monkey. There are several types of marmosets including the tiny pygmy marmosets, which measure from 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm). The ones pictured above are white-headed marmosets. The tail of this marmoset is very long and almost as large as its body.
Like the squirrel monkey, the marmoset lives in the understory layer of the rainforest, (under the shade of the tallest trees but above the ground). They are also vulnerable to attacks from snakes, wild cats and birds of prey.
Although marmosets primarily feed on buds, fruits and small insects, their diet also includes sap that they tap from trees using their long, sharp nails.
Like most primates, the white-headed marmoset is a social animal, and typically lives in family groups of eight to ten individuals, consisting of a dominant female, her mate and their offspring. Their social behaviors include huddling, grooming and playing. The marmoset is very active and leaps between trees.
The white-headed marmoset is not endangered.
06. The Ocelot
Also known as the painted leopard, the ocelot is a nocturnal creature that lives in South and Central America. A few of them (about a hundred) live in the U.S. The ocelot resembles a domestic cat and has a graceful body. Many people regard the ocelot as the most beautiful of the American cats.
During the day, the ocelot rests in dense foliage and tree limbs where it may share the same spot with another ocelot. The ocelot is very territorial and will fight to death to defend its territory.
Ocelots spend most of their time sleeping, becoming active at night. Like jaguars, ocelots are also very good swimmers. Ocelots can survive in different habitats but in order to thrive, they need an abundant supply of rodents for food and sufficient ground cover.
Hunting mostly at night, the ocelot eats deer, rabbits, birds, turtles, fish, agoutis (small rodents from Central America and South America), mice, snakes, frogs and lizards. Ocelots can live 8 to 11 years in the wild.
Ocelots communicate by mewing and yowling. Females give birth to litters of two to four kittens. The kittens begin to hunt with their mother when they are about three months old and remain with her for a year.
Currently, they are not regarded as endangered.
07. The Sloth
The Sloth spends most of its day dozing on tree branches. The sloth face has dark bands next to the eyes and its arms are nearly twice as long as the legs. Since it barely moves, it is almost invisible to most observers.
The sloth eats, sleeps, mates and even gives birth to its offspring while hanging from trees with its claws. It can sleep from 15 to 18 hours a day, making it one of the least active animals in the rainforest and in the world. The rest of its time is spent feeding and climbing trees. The sloth feeds primarily on ants, shoots and leaves.
Unlike other mammals, the three-toed sloth is able to rotate its head up to 300 degrees. This unique feature allows it to scan for predators without adjusting its body position. Sloths are very clumsy on the ground, although they are skilled swimmers.
Adult females produce a single baby each year, who is carried and cared for by its mother for the next eight to twelve months. Sloths may live from 10 to 20 years in the wild and 30 years or more in captivity.
The Bradypus sloth is considered to be vulnerable but not endangered.
08. The Tapir
The Lowland Tapir is the second largest land mammal in South America. The tapir is related to horses and rhinoceros. It is a fantastic swimmer and diver and spends most of its time near bodies of water. The tapir is also a fast runner.
Tapirs are herbivorous animals. Their long, flexible snout resembles a short elephant’s trunk that helps them grab leaves, shoots, buds, fruits, and small branches. They generally feed only at night, hiding in the shade during the day.
They form a structured herd that consists of both males and females. Baby tapirs (as the one on the photo) have light colored, horizontal, stripes, but these disappear when they reach adulthood.
Cougars and jaguars often attack tapirs at night, when they are asleep and unable to run to the water for safety. Tapirs may also be attacked by caimans and crocodiles. The tapir has limited eyesight but a strong sense of smell.
Little is known about the lifespan of tapirs in the wild. In captivity they can live for 35 years.
The tapir is considered to be vulnerable due to loss of habitat from wildfires, logging and farming activities.
09. The Maned Wolf
The maned wolf is the largest canid in South America. With a golden-red coat, long pointed muzzle and large erect ears, it resembles a red fox with long legs.
Normally shy and nocturnal, this animal remains active in areas that are not inhabited by humans. Maned wolves lead a solitary life in their territories and usually avoid each other’s company, except when mating.
Because of its overall appearance, the maned wolf is often described as a red fox on stilts. Its long legs are suitable for living in grasslands. The black mane on its back is raised when excited or when displaying aggression.
Unlike other animals that live in the rainforest, the maned wolf is very flexible in its diet and habitat requirements. The maned wolf is omnivorous, feeding on birds, reptiles, fish, as well as insects and fruits. Its large ears give this wolf a keen sense of hearing, which is useful for finding rodents and other small animals in the tall grass.
They give birth to between two to five puppies that mature in one year. Males usually help take care of their young ones.
Habitat destruction is the main threat to these wolves. They have almost no natural enemies but are in great danger because they need wide, open spaces to hunt. They are listed as near threatened.
10. The Yellow-chevroned Parakeet
The Yellow-Chevroned Parakeet lives on the southern part of the Amazon rainforest. Even though it is common resident of the jungle, this parakeet can live in major urban areas as well.
An interesting fact about this bird is that the males and females look exactly the same and the only way to tell them apart is through DNA testing.
The Yellow-Chevroned Parakeet was imported to North America in the 1970’s for the pet trade. Since then, escaped birds have established populations in Florida and California.
These parakeets can build strong social bonds and are rarely seen in small groups. They usually travel in flocks with as many as twenty birds.
They feed mostly on fruits and seeds in their native habitat, and feral populations have adapted to eating blossoms and nectar.
Yellow-Chevroned Parakeets usually find holes in trees to build their nests. They are not known for their talking ability, but can mimic some words and sounds.
Currently these birds are not endangered.
11. The Poison Dart Frog
Poison Dart Frogs, also known as “poison arrow frogs”, are extremely small in size. The smallest ones are as tall as a thumbnail or a paper clip.
There are more than 100 species of these tiny frogs with different patterns and colors. The strawberry frog is red in color with blue legs, the green and black species has black spots, and the yellow banded species has yellow and black colors.
The poison produced by these frogs comes from their diet. Each species produces a different type of poison, which is excreted from its skin, and used to paralyze predators. Just two and half grams of the poison dart frog’s poison could kill a human.
The poison dart frogs are meat eaters. They use their long sticky tongues to catch their prey, which includes termites, ants, small spiders and beetles. Their only predator is a type of snake that is resistant to their venom.
These frogs can survive in the wild for 3 to 4 years. In captivity their life span ranges from 10 to 15 years.
Due to poaching and habitat loss (from logging and farming), this frog is listed as endangered.
12. The Capybara
Capybaras are the world’s largest rodents. They have a short head and a barrel shaped body, with small ears and two long front teeth. Their front teeth continue to grow, but are worn down as they chew on bark or foods.
Capybaras have a reddish-brown fur which turns yellowish-brown on the underside. They have small webbed feet, and their back legs are slightly longer than their front legs. Because of their webbed feet they are great swimmers and can easily move through water.
Capybaras can stay submerged for quite some time by keeping their noses above the water. An adult capybara weighs between 100 to 150 pounds (45 to 68 kg). They are social animals and live in groups under the control of one dominant male. Despite their size, capybaras are friendly to humans.
Their diet includes grasses, water plants and fruits. They also eat farm grown vegetables. Capybaras have a lifespan of 8 to 10 years in the wild. They are generally hunted for their meat and hide but they are not endangered.
13. The Anteater
Anteaters are burrowing, nocturnal animals. They do not have teeth, but have a long tongue, a long snout, and claws with which to hunt for termites and ants. The anteater s tongue is covered with a layer of sticky saliva that they use to catch termites and ants. They can flick their tongue about 150 times a minute.
There are four species of ant eaters: The giant anteater, the silky anteater, the southern tamandua (pictured above) and the northern tamandua. Anteaters can be aggressive and use their long claws and powerful legs to fight off predators like jaguars, cougars and even humans. The anteater fights by standing upright in a tripod position, using its tail as a “third foot”.
Anteaters can weigh from 40 to 86 pounds (18 to 39 kg), and are found in grasslands, swamps and forests. They sleep for about 15 hours a day. Anteaters have small eyes and weak vision but they have a good sense of smell. They make a very strong bellowing noise. Giant anteaters can eat about 30,000 insects a day.
Females give birth to one offspring a year. Anteaters can live in captivity for up to 9 years.
The southern anteater is not endangered.
14. The Gilded Hummingbird
The Gilded Hummingbird’s plumage is shiny golden-green with a bronze colored tail. They are identified by their red colored bill.
These birds use their flexible tongues to take in nectar from flowers. They also feed on small insects, an important source of protein. They pick these insects from spider webs, branches and leaves.
Hummingbirds dart from flower to flower, drinking their nectar. Tubular-shaped flowers are ideal for hummingbirds since most bees and butterflies cannot feed from them. They can fly right, left, up, down backwards, and even upside down. Hummingbirds flap their wings about 50 to 70 times per second. This is why they appear as a blur.
These tiny birds survive by using tremendous amounts of energy. They burn energy so fast that they have to feed every 10 to 15 minutes to remain active.
Since they’re able to fly at high speeds, hummingbirds can stay active in full daylight without being attacked by predators. While hummingbirds extract nectar from flowers, they in turn help flowers to reproduce by pollination.
These hummingbirds do not live or migrate in flocks. After mating, the female lays two eggs and incubates them by herself, without the help of a mate.
Gilded hummingbirds are not considered endangered.
15. The Piranha
The Piranha is a ferocious freshwater fish, famous for its razor-sharp teeth. The natives of South America catch piranhas and use their teeth to make tools and weapons.
There are approximately 20 species of piranha living in the Amazon River, but only four or five of them are dangerous. Most piranha species are quite harmless and docile. The aggressive type is the red-bellied piranha, pictured above.
Fishermen must be careful when pulling this fish out of the water. A caught piranha is dangerous enough to cause a serious injury.
Baby piranha will feed on tiny crustaceans, fruits, seeds and aquatic plants. As they grow larger, they begin to swim in groups of about 20 fish. Piranhas do not kill their prey first, they just eat their victim alive. Sometimes they gather by the hundreds to strip the flesh from a large animal. They can completely devour a cow in minutes.
When a school of piranhas are in a feeding frenzy, the water appears to boil and turns red with blood. Adult piranhas have been known to eat their own babies. The piranha typically avoids attacking people, preferring to prey on dead or injured animals.
Red-bellied piranhas are not endangered.
16. The South American Coati
South American Coatis, also known as ring-tailed coatis, are diurnal animals, living both in trees and on the ground. They are members of the raccoon family. They have a grayish brown coat while their underside has a pale color. Their long tails have black rings, and their face has grey and black markings.
South American Coatis are omnivores and eat invertebrates, fruits, bird’s eggs and small animals such as lizards and snakes. They climb trees in search of fruits and poke through crevices using their snouts to locate food. They also turn over rocks and rip open logs using their claws to find insects.
Females stay in large groups of 15 to 30. Males are generally solitary. They communicate through soft whining sounds and loud, alarm sounds when threatened. On hearing the alarm sounds, they generally climb up trees, drop down on the ground, and then disperse. Jaguars, pumas and other large wild cats, are the main predators of the coati, along with birds of prey, snakes and crocodiles.
Females give birth to litters of 3 to 7 young ones. The South American Coati can live for about 7 years in the wild, but in captivity it can live up to 14 years.
Coaties are not endangered.
17. The Jaguarundi
The Jaguarundi is a small wild cat native to South and Central America. It is slightly bigger than a domestic cat. With its elongated body, long tail, short legs and rounded ears, the jaguarundi resembles a weasel or an otter.
The jaguarundi has a uniform color coat which is not spotted with a few faint markings on the underside and on its face. Jaguarundis are more active at daytime than in the evening.
They can hunt on the ground, on tree branches and can leap through the air to catch their prey. Jaguarundis eat any small prey they can catch, including snakes, lizards, rodents and even groundfeeding birds. They also kill larger prey like opossums and rabbits. Like other cats, their diet too includes a small amount of arthropods like spiders and vegetation.
Jaguarundis are very vocal and make different types of sounds like whistles, purrs, chattering sounds, bird-like chirp and yaps. Females give birth to litters of two to four kittens. Jaguarundis have a life span of about 12 to 15 years in the wild. In captivity they can live for about 20 to 30 years.
Though they are not trapped for their fur, their population continues to decline due to loss of habitat.
They are not considered endangered.
18. The Dwarf Caiman
Dwarf caimans are the smallest living crocodiles in South America and the most abundant. They live in flooded forests around lakes and near fast-flowing waters.
These caimans hide during the day and become very active at night when they go out to hunt. Adult males can measure up to 5 feet (1.5 m).
Dwarf caimans have bronze-colored eyes, with vertical pupils like those of a cat. Their eyesight is very powerful and they can see clearly, even in murky waters. Young caimans eat small insects while adults eat fish, crabs, shell fish, as well as large insects like beetles.
Females lay from 10 to 25 eggs. Large rodents that live in the Amazon, snakes, jaguars and even people feed on their eggs. For caimans, this is the most dangerous time of their lives.
Once they grow up, they have very few predators thanks to their armored skin which protects them from anacondas and jaguars.
Because of their small size and their tough skin, they are not killed for their leather like other crocodiles but they are commonly trapped and sold as pets. Despite their cute appearance, they have powerful jaws and their teeth, although small, can cause serious injury. Like most wild animals, dwarf caimans are best left in the wild.
Dwarf caimans are not considered endangered, but they are threatened by water pollution from gold mining.
19. The Lowland Paca
The lowland or spotted Paca is a large rodent with a coarse fur, and no under fur. An adult paca weighs from 13 to 31 pounds (6 to 14 kg). Pacas are mainly nocturnal. They dig small sized burrows underneath the surface, with a number of exits.
Because of their size, pacas make a lot of noise when walking and are easily found by predators. They are good swimmers, and when they sense danger they seek water for protection. They tend to live near small streams.
The paca is a great climber and will climb trees in search of food. Its diet includes seeds, roots, leaves, stems, and fruits. Its favorite fruits are mangos and avocados.
Lowland pacas typically have one or two offspring per year. They can live up to 16 years in captivity.
Because of the damage they cause to crops, pacas are often killed by farmers who see them as pests. Others hunt them for their delicious tasting meat, which is often sold as a delicacy. Pacas are also preyed on by jaguars. Despite these threats, pacas are not considered to be endangered.
20. The Anaconda
The anaconda is the largest most powerful snake on the planet, capable of killing any prey, including man. Anacondas are found in the rainforest, swamps and savannas. All anacondas are excellent swimmers and can stay underwater for a long time.
The anaconda is a master of disguise. The eyes and nostrils of an anaconda are positioned high upon the head, so when the snake is completely under water, only the very top of the head is visible.
Anacondas catch prey with their fangs and can submerge in water in order to drown it. Then they crush it with their powerful muscles and swallow it whole. Sometimes they kill their prey by breaking its neck. After eating a large prey, a long digestive process begins that can last for more than two weeks.
Anacondas prey on capybaras, tapirs, deer, fish, birds, mice, caiman, turtles, lizards and even other anacondas. Females are larger than males. Anacondas can measure 20 ft (6 m) and beyond, and weigh 330 pounds (150 kg).
Females give birth to 20 and up to 40 pups. The pups are vulnerable to predators and can be eaten by caimans, piranhas, birds and other rainforest animals that live in the water.
These rainforest snakes are dangerous and unpredictable and should not be kept as pets. Anacondas are not endangered.