Amazon Rainforest Fauna
| Wildlife & Flora
The Amazon rainforest has unparalleled biodiversity. The National Academy of Sciences claims that any four-square-mile patch of the Amazon rainforest can contain more than 125 species of mammals, 60 of amphibians, 100 of reptiles, 150 of butterflies, and more than 400 species of birds.
So just what kinds of animals are you going to see on an Amazon cruise? Of course, it would be several lives' work to witness in person all that lives within the Amazon basin: as well as the above diversity, new species are being discovered all the time. However, if you are lucky - and the longer you spend in the rainforest, the luckier you will be - you may see at least some of the following iconic creatures:
A tapir is a large mammal, similar in shape to a pig. It is the largest herbivore in the Amazon, and has an excellent sense of smell and hearing which helps it evade predators.
They are ancient mammals, related to both horses and rhino, and are believed to have changed very little in tens of millions of years.
It eats with the aid of its elephant-like 'trunk', which helps to pick berries and leaves off nearby trees.
Although it is both large and extremely heavy, the tapir is at home in the water, which it bathes in regularly to cool off.
The aptly-named howler monkey is the largest species of 'New World monkeys'. They have a powerful call, which when sung in unison can be heard up to three miles away. The call is considered a warning to other groups that the territory is occupied.
They have an excellent sense of smell and can reportedly sniff out food, such as fruit and nuts, up to 2km away.
They have long tails (some have been found with a tail five times the size of their body) which they often use to grasp things, such as when picking fruits from trees.
Caimans are reptiles of the Alligatorid crocodylian family, and they usually do not grow to more than a few meters in length. They closely resemble alligators, with bony plates covering their backs, and an elongated snout.
The rarer black caiman, which can grow up to six meters in length, is considered an endangered animal owing to the destruction of its natural habitat.
Interestingly, unlike other crocodilians, the black caiman does not lose the baby markings it has as a hatchling. These are present on babies as a way to help them camouflage into the surroundings, and they then stay with the black caiman for its whole life.
Pink River Dolphin
Amazon river dolphins, or 'botos', begin their lives grey, and only turn pink with age, an effect of their skin becoming more translucent, and thus the blood in their bodies becoming more visible.
They can grow up to 10 feet long, and weigh several hundred pounds.
River dolphins are entirely freshwater animals, and largely solitary. They do not often hunt in groups, or 'pods' as they are called, as their only natural predator is human beings.
Sloths are medium-sized mammals, related to the equally interesting-looking ant-eater. They are the worlds slowest mammals. So incredibly slow, in fact, that moss even grows on their coats, which actually aids their camouflage!
They spend the majority of their life in trees, and have special claws which enable them to hang from the branches. When they are not sleeping (which they can do for up to 20 hours per day) they eat leaves, shoots and fruits.
Sloths are easy prey on land, as their claws are very bad at pulling them along the rainforest floor. However, they are surprisingly good swimmers.
Macaws are members of the Parrot family. Extremely bright and colorful, with an enlarged beak and a facial feather pattern as unique as a fingerprint, they are perfectly suited to the Amazon rainforest.
Many have extremely large tails which allows some of them to reach a body size of one meter.
They are intelligent and social animals - some are even known to mimic human speech.
Interestingly, macaws mate for life. During breeding season, the mother will incubate the eggs, whilst the father searches for food.
The Capybara is the largest rodent in the world. They weigh from between 75 and150 pounds and grow to around two feet tall.
They are extremely sociable animals and have been known to live in groups of up to 100.
They are semi-aquatic herbivores, who graze on grasses and aquatic plants. Their front teeth grow continuously to compensate for the damage done from grass eating.
Their natural life span is between eight and ten years; however most do not make it this far, as they are favoured prey of jaguars, caiman, puma, eagle and ocelot.