From the Three-toed Sloth to the Goliath bird-eating spider, the fast-disappearing Amazon rainforest is home to some of the rarest, strangest, and most deadliest animals on the planet, with many species still to be identified. Documented below are 36 of the Amazon’s unique inhabitants:
1.) Amazon Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis pardalis)
Incredibly adaptable the Amazon Ocelot has been known to change its sleeping pattern, diet and habitat to survive. Hunted extensively, it possess beautiful dappled fur that allows it to blend in with the rainforests ground and trees.
2.) Giant River Otter (Pteronura brasiliensis)
Also known as the ‘River Wolf,’ the Giant Otter is one of South America’s top carnivores and the largest of the Otter species. Typically found in groups of 14 the Otters have been hunted to the point of extinction, with the few thousand that remain being amongst the rarest otters in the world.
3.) Glass Frog: (Centrolenidae)
The extraordinary Glass Frog has entirely transparent flesh, allowing it to blend naturally into its environment to elude predators. This bizarre camouflage also means that the Glass Frogs internal organs – including the beating heart – are clearly visible through their thin clear skin.
4.) Toucan (Ramphastos toco)
A rainforest icon, the Toucan is one of the most well known and nosiest inhabitants of the Amazon jungle with its call being heard up to half a mile away. Its colourful, over-sized bill has helped make it one of the world’s most famous birds as well as a popular mascot for hawking stout, cereal and Guinness.
5.) Brown Titi monkey (Callicebus brunneus)
An understory monkey, the Brown Titi is notoriously lazy and quite content to spend its time sitting in vine tangles snacking on fruits from neighbouring trees.
6.) “Green Basilisk Lizard” (Basiliscus plumifrons)
Fittingly nicknamed the “Jesus Lizard,” this little fella is able to use its specially designed feet and unique running style to run along the surface of water when escaping predators.
7.) Potoo (Nyctibius)
The nocturnal Potoo uses its camouflaged plumage to spend the day resting almost statue-like atop one of the Jungles many branches. Perhaps somewhat unfairly it has been nicknamed the “Worlds funniest looking bird.”
8.) Amazonian Manatee (Trichechus inunguis)
The Amazon’s largest marine mammal, the Manatee was first described as a curious combination of hippo and seal and is now commonly recognised as the “sea cow.” Unfortunately the effects of deforestation and hunting has led to the Manatee being placed on the Red List of Threatened Species.
9.) Electric Eel (Electrophorus electricus)
Known to grow up to nine feet in length, the Electric Eel is capable of generating an electrical charge of up to 650 volts – five times the power of a standard wall socket – in order to keep predators at bay.
10.) Hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin)
The oddest bird in the Amazon, the Hoatzin has been cruelly nicknamed the “Stink Bird” on
account of its manure like small – a by-product of its poor diet. A poor flyer with no close relatives the Hoatzin has ripped up the evolutionary rule book, with its heritage having been a constant source of debate since its discovery.
11.) Brazilian wandering spider (Phoneutria )
Despite being only 5 inches long, the nocturnal Brazilian wandering spider is the most venomous arachnid on the Planet. Highly aggressive and territorial it has a habit of turning up in shipments of Bananas – with one stowaway once causing the shut-down of a small English town.
12.) Capybara (Hydrochoerus Hydrochaeris)
The biggest rodent on earth, the Capybara is one of the most commonly sighted animals of the jungle with its home lying on the banks of the Amazon river. Prized meat for Amazon natives, Capybaras have been known to submerge themselves underwater to avoid predators.
13.) Candiru Fish (Vandellia Cirrhosa)
Of all the legends surrounding the Amazons inhabitants, that of the Candiru fish stands out from the rest. This pencil-shaped fish is reported to enjoy entering the genitals of unsuspecting bathers and lodging itself firmly therein. While extensive research suggests that much of this legend may be untrue, it’s still worth avoiding the unpleasant Candiru Fish.
14.) Golden Lion Tamarin Monkey (Leontopithecus rosalia)
The tiniest species of monkeys, the Golden Lion Tamarin is named after its impressive mane which covers its small body and tail. Found in the jungles trees there are only 800 or so left in the wild as their habitat has disappeared.
15.) Bullet ant (Paraponera clavata)
The world’s largest ant, the Bullet Ant is named after the painful effect of its sting – which is comparable to being shot. Known by the locals as the 24 hour ant, local tribes have a coming of age ceremony where a young male has to endure the Bullet Ants repeated stings without making a sound.
16.) Three-toed Sloth (Bradypus variegatus )
The world’s slowest mammal, Sloths are built for life in the treetops with their huge hooked claws and long arms allowing them to hang upside-down for days. Famous for sleeping 15 – 20 hours a day, Sloths are celebrated with their own unique day -with the 20th of October being international Sloth Day.
17.) Green Anaconda (Eunectes murinus)
With a deserved reputation for being one of the Amazons most deadly occupants the Green Anaconda can grow up to 32 feet in length and weigh more than 230 kilograms, making it pound for pound the largest snake in the world. The Anaconda relies on its powerful body to squeeze its pray until it asphyxiates before unhinging its huge jaws and swallowing the victim whole, with some meals taking up to several weeks to digest.
18.) Kinkajou (Potos flavus)
Nicknamed the “Honey Bear” on account of its habit of raiding bees’ nests, the Kinkajou is capable of turning its feet backwards to escape from predators.
19.) Harpy Eagle (Harpia Harpyja)
Hailed as the “worlds most powerful bird of prey,” the Harpy Eagle is Panama’s national bird and was the inspiration for several characters in the Harry Potter films including Fawkes the Phoenix and Buckbeak the Hippogriff.
20.) Giant Anteater (Mymecophaga tridactyla )
Using its two foot long tongue the toothless anteater munches its way through 35,000 ant and termites each day. Most Giant Anteaters also possess an excellent sense of smell, which combined with its camouflaged fur coat helps to make it one of the Amazon Jungles most illusive animals.
21.) Goliath bird-eating spider (Theraphosa blondi )
Harmless to humans, the Goliath bird-eating spider is big enough to feast on birds and small mammals. Found in deep burrows this Tarantula sup-specie is able to periodically shed its external skeleton, replacing internal organs and lost appendages in the process.
22.) Spider Monkey (Ateles)
Found in high canopy, the heavily hunted Spider Monkey is named after its habit of using its incredibly powerful tail as an extra limb to hang upside-down from the jungles branches.
23.) Black Caiman (Melanosuchus)
The Amazons own “apex predator,” the black caiman is the largest of all the alligator species and is capable of growing up to 25 foot long and weighing over 3,000 pounds. Like other Crocodilian species the Black Caiman has been around for millions of years and enjoys snacking on Capybaras, Piranhas, Giant River Otters and even Humans.
24.) Tapir (Tapiridae)
A fantastic swimmer, the endangered Tapir has pig-like features with a flexible trunk, a barrel-shaped body and short stock legs. Having changed little in body shape in the last 35 million years the Tapir is considered a living fossil.
25.) Side-necked turtles (Pleurodira)
With distinctive yellow spots, the endangered Side-necked Turtle can live up to 170 years and has been known to sink to the bottom of the Amazon River to escape predators.
26.) Andean Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola peruvianus)
The Peruvian national bird, the male Cock-of-the-Rock is famous for its courtship dance where it gets to display its brightly coloured crest while performing a series of hops.
27.) Pink Dolphin: (Boto, Buefo, or Tonino)
Ranging in colour from light grey to bright flamingo pink, the Pink Dolphin has survived for years mainly due to the vast number of legends and myths that surround them.
Traditional Amazonian folklore suggests that the Pink Dolphin is blessed with magical powers, including the ability to transform into a young man who seduces and impregnates local women before returning to the river to become a dolphin again. This belief means that the Dolphin is rarely hunted – to kill them would bring generations of bad luck – however as a result of increased pollution, deforestation and fishing nets the Pink dolphin is on the verge of extinction in the Amazon river basin.
28.) Red-Bellied Piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri)
With razor-like teeth, an insatiable appetite and the ability to rip flesh clean off the bone, the Red-Bellied Piranha is one of the Amazon’s most feared predators. Known to feed in large schools, Piranha’s teeth are valuable tools for indigenous Amazon tribes as they allow for the sharpening of knives and darts.
29.) Boa Constrictor (Boa constrictor)
Significantly smaller than their Anaconda cousins the Boa Constrictor is a very effective killer, despite their lack of fangs and venom. Excellent swimmers, the Boa Constrictor will eat anything it catches, including Birds, Monkeys and Tapirs.
30.) Jaguar (Panthera onca)
The much hunted Jaguar holds a special place in Amazonian folklore, with the ancient Incas believing the skin of the Jaguar represents the night sky, the Aztecs believing the Jaguars eyes have a deep connection to the spiritual world and the native Americans believing the Jaguar to be the formidable lord of the underworld.
31.) Praying Mantis (Mantis religiosa)
Cleverly disguised amongst the leaves, the praying mantis has an almost alien look with a triangular head, large compound eyes and prominent spikey front legs which are held together in a prayer like position – hence its name. Praying Mantis’s are known to engage in sexual cannibalism – where the female will devour the male during or after mating.
32.) Capuchin monkey (Cebus)
Sociable and clever, the Capuchin has been known to use stones as tools to crack open nuts, Crabs and Shellfish. Blessed with a prehensile tail which allows it to move quickly through the Amazon forest, their ability to be easily trained has led to their exploitation as Organ Grinder monkeys.
33.) Poison Dart Frog: (Dendrobatidae )
About the size of a thumbnail, the brightly coloured Poison-Dart Frog is one of the most toxic creatures on earth. Containing enough poison to kill 100 people the frogs have been used for hunting by Amazon tribes for centuries.
34.) Macaw (Psittacidae)
The largest of all parrots, the Macaw is well known for its bright colours, laud call and regular appearances at the Amazon rivers clay cliffs. Under threat from deforestation, Macaws are sociable and intelligent creatures with their ability to mimic human speech making them popular household pets.
35.) Fisherman bat (Noctilio leporinus)
The worlds biggest Bat and one of only a few Bat species capable of fishing, the Fisherman Bat has sharp curved claws and a Dog-like snout.
36.) Howler Monkey (Alouatta caraya)
The loudest animal in the New World, the Howler monkey is named after its high-pitched roaring call – which can carry for up to 20 miles.