The Amazon Rainforest is massive ecosystem, taking up a very large portion of South America’s landmass. Even more impressive is the amount of plants and animals found within the forest. Researchers say that 10% of the earth’s total species can be found in the Amazon.
What’s even more incredible is that the rainforest is so dense and unexplored that it’s likely there are many more species yet to be discovered.
There are so many deadly, unique, and fascinating Amazon Rainforest Animals that we could learn about them for days. Today, Outforia will profile some of the most common and interesting species of the forest.
The Amazon Rainforest is a tropical rainforest that is massive, spanning 2.3 million square miles/6 million square kilometers. It is the largest forest in the entire world and is filled with all kinds of tropical animals and plants.
The rainforest is found in the drainage basin of the Amazon River — the largest river basin in the world — located in the northernmost parts of South America. It can be found across 9 different countries including Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Suriname, French Guiana, and Guiana.
It is found as far west as the Andes Mountains, as far east as the Atlantic Ocean, as far south as the Brazilian central plateau, and as far north as the Guiana Highlands.
The rainforest is so large that it occupies about 40% of the total land in Brazil. Most of the forest is found within Brazil, with 60% of the total forest occupying the country.
Not only is the rainforest enormous, but the area is also the most biologically diverse habitat in the world. There are millions of different species found in the Amazon Rainforest including plants, insects, birds, and mammals. Despite there being millions of species within the rainforest, researchers believe that there are still many species yet unidentified.
It is believed that the Amazon Rainforest contains 10% of the total species on earth. Over 40,000 types of plants can be found here, as well as 428 amphibians, 378 reptiles, 1,294 birds, and 427 mammals.
Why Is It Called A Rainforest?
The climate inside the Amazon Rainforest is incredibly humid with large amounts of rainfall and high temperatures. The term “rainforest” comes from the fact that the forest has incredibly high humidity and lots of rain. The forest will see a total of 59-118 inches/149-299 centimeters of rainfall every year.
This excess rain comes about because the forest is located near the equator where it is very hot. The heat creates lots of evaporation, leading to more rain. However, the forest does not rain all the time. The forest also retains water in the tree branches, the soil, and the roots.
The Portuguese were the ones who colonized Brazil, and they went to the country looking for gold and silver. They believed that a city called “Eldorado” was located somewhere within the forest. The city was rumored to be made entirely of gold, and was thought to be guarded by the Amazons — a warrior group made up of women.
The Portuguese began traveling up the Amazon river, trying to find Eldorado before the French or Spanish found it first. Clearly, this mythical city was never found. The Amazons were not found either, but the forest was still named after them.
Keystone species are animals that are vital to the survival of the other species around them. In this way, keystone species are vital to the survival of the entire ecosystem they reside in. Almost anything can be a keystone species, whether it’s a predator or a plant, they each have their role.
In every ecosystem, the keystone species are the ones that hold the environment together. Some ecosystems would not be able to adapt to life without their keystone species, so they could potentially disappear altogether. Even if an ecosystem can adapt without its keystone species, it will be forever changed in a huge way.
A keystone species is not a set animal, and some researchers may disagree about which animals are actually keystone species. However, it’s a good way to help people understand which organisms are most important to the health and survival of an ecosystem.
There are a few different kinds of keystone species:
- Ecosystem engineers
They help keep the animal populations in check by controlling the prey species. By keeping the prey species in check, they are also allowing other species on the food web to sustain themselves. Food such as insects and plants could not replenish themselves in time if there were too many prey species eradicating them.
They create, destroy, or change a habitat. The beaver is one such example because they use dead trees to create their dams. This allows new trees to grow in their place while also changing the direction of rivers and creating new wetlands.
They are two or more species that help each other. Bees and flowers are one example. Bees pollinate the flowers and help the flowers to reproduce. The bees then use the nectar and pollen as their food source.
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1. Orangutans (Bornean Orangutan & Sumatran Orangutan)
Orangutans are diurnal animals and they spend most of their time up in trees. They also tend to be solitary animals, except for when females travel with their child. Even though they prefer to live alone, they will sometimes get together for special gatherings of up to 6 individuals.
These creatures are keystone species because they help to distribute seeds all throughout the forest which aids in germination. They feed mostly on fruit, and will spend 2-3 hours every morning just feasting on vegetation. 60% of their diet consists of fruit, but they will also eat leaves, insects, vines, sap, fungi, flowers, bark, and bird eggs.
2. Black Agouti (Dasyprocta fuliginosa)
Black Agoutis are typically diurnal, but they have become nocturnal in some areas where they are threatened by humans. These critters are small prey animals, but they are excellent runners and are well adapted for life on the floor of the rainforest. They can even jump up to 6.5 feet/2 meters in the air without a running start.
These animals are considered a keystone species because they distribute nuts throughout the forest, promoting new tree growth. They are herbivorous and feed on fruit, vegetables, and succulents.
Their courtship ritual is also quite interesting because the male will spray the female with his urine. This causes her to run about in a crazy sort of dance.
Apex predators are some of the most formidable animals on the planet. They are the top predators in their own ecosystem, and they are rarely, if ever, hunted by anything else.
1. Jaguars (Panthera onca)
Jaguars are one of the largest carnivores in the rainforest, and they will eat over 85 different species of animals. They prefer larger animals such as tapirs, peccaries, and deer. Their jaws are incredibly powerful and they are able to easily bite through the skin of reptiles and turtle shells.
To hunt, a jaguar will hide itself where it can’t be seen. Their fur is colored and patterned in a way that allows them to blend in with their surroundings. It will then pounce on its unaware prey. They may bite the animal directly in the back of the skull to kill it, or they may suffocate it by biting the neck.
Because Jaguars are apex predators, they have no natural predators. However, humans are guilty of poaching them illegally for their fur, teeth, and paws.
2. Puma (Puma concolor)
Pumas are big cats and another very large carnivorous mammal that resides in the Amazon Rainforest. Like the Jaguar, they prefer to hunt larger mammals, but they’ve been known to hunt out smaller critters as well. Pumas are so strong and agile that they can drag large prey up to 1,148 feet/350 meters from the kill site. They will then hide the prey under debris and return at night to eat.
Similar to the Jaguar, a Puma will hide in wait for its prey to pass by. However, they will actively stalk their prey, just ensuring that they do so quietly. Once they are close enough, they will jump onto the back of their prey and will bite its neck below the skull, killing it instantly.
It comes as no surprise that Pumas are solitary animals except for during their mating period. The mating period only lasts for 1-6 days, and then the male and female will go their separate ways. However, the juveniles will stay with the mother for a period before going off on their own.
3. Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja)
Harpy Eagles are massive with a wingspan of up to 6.5 feet/2 meters, talons that are about 4.9 inches/12.5 centimeters long, and weighing between 11-19.8 pounds/5-9 kilograms. Their sheer size alone makes them formidable predators. These birds are so large that their main food source is made up of sloths and primates, but they will sometimes eat small deer, lizards, birds, and rodents as well.
These large birds of prey will grab their prey from the canopies of the rainforest and are powerful enough to carry the animal to a different location to feed. Their legs are incredibly strong and their talons are long and sharp, so the eagle is easily able to capture prey.
Harpy Eagles prefer to reside in pairs and will mate for life. You will also frequently see a pair traveling with an offspring from their most recent mating season.
4. Black Caiman (Melanosuchus niger)
Black Caimans are also incredibly large, often growing more than 19.6 feet/6 meters in length. This makes them a worthy predator, often feeding on somewhat larger creatures like the capybara. However, they seem to prefer smaller prey and will usually eat fish and mollusks.
Where you will see these animals throughout the Amazon depends on what season it is. During the dry season, they are more isolated to permanent lakes and rivers. During the rainy season, wetland territory greatly increases as does the habitat of the Black Caiman.
Black Caimans and their close relatives are the most vocal kinds of reptiles in the world. They produce rumbling growls to communicate with each other.
5. Giant Otter (Pteronura brasiliensis)
Giant Otters are great predators when it comes to fishing. These otter species hunts along rivers and other water’s edges during the day. Although the water is often murky, they mostly use their keen eyesight to locate their fish. Giant Otters may also hunt alone or as part of a group, and their hunting tactics change accordingly.
When they’re alone, Giant Otters will hunt in shallow waters where the fish will hide among the vegetation. Typically, they prefer to hunt alone because they are able to catch more fish for themselves and are left more satisfied.
However, when families are together, they will fish together in groups. As a group, they will dive into deep water, working together to trap the fish against the shoreline. Some of their favorite fishes are catfish, perch, and characin.
6. Green Anaconda (Eunectes murinus)
Green Anacondas are terrifying predators because they’re large and opportunistic. They will generally reach 9.8-19.6 feet/3-6 meters in length, and they will feed on anything they come across. As long as they are able to kill and swallow their prey, they will go after it.
When they’re younger, they will usually feed on smaller species like birds and young caiman. But, as they grow larger, so does their appetite. As adults, they are more likely to eat large prey that is usually 14-50% of their own body mass. Prey animals may include Caiman, Jacanas, Capybaras, Agoutis, Peccaries, and Tapirs.
When you think about it, they hunt similarly to the Puma, relying on their quiet nature to sneak up on prey and ambush them. The patterning on their body allows them to be sufficiently camouflaged. They will strike at their prey, holding them down with their sharp fangs and constricting them.
Major Mammals Living In The Amazon Rainforest
Capybaras are a type of large rodent that stands at 2 feet/0.6 meters tall, 4 feet/1.2 meters long, and can weigh up to 150 pounds/68 kilograms. Their bodies are barrel shaped and they lack a tail. Their fur is dark brown with a reddish tint.
These animals are also semi-aquatic and can be found living in the wetlands of the rainforest. Although, you will only find them where they can easily get into the water such as flooded grasslands.
Capybaras are herbivorous grazers that feed mostly on grass and aquatic plants. They will generally live between 6-10 years, and may be predated on by anacondas, caimans, jaguars, and humans.
2. Giant Anteater
What most people don’t know is that the Giant Anteater is a type of sloth. They are very large and feed on insects, especially ants. Their snouts are designed specifically for this. Their snouts and tongues are both very long so that they can stick them into small areas and suck up their food.
These anteaters are very large and can reach more than 7 feet/2.1 meters in length. Like its snout, the head is very long, and the ears and eyes are small. The tail is very bushy and is almost as long as the body.
Unlike the sloths that we generally think of, these anteaters do not climb in trees. Instead, they can be found roaming the rainforest floor for their next meal. You will generally find them in secluded areas of the forest, swamp, and grasslands.
3. Golden Lion Tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia)
Golden Lion Tamarins are a very social species and are usually found in groups of 2-8 individuals. The groups are usually made up of family members with the breeding pair, and a litter or two of their offspring. There may sometimes be other relatives as well.
Although they are social and love to be in their family groups, they are very territorial of their area. They will mark their territory with their scent, and will vocalize threateningly if any other Tamarins and creatures enter their area. They will also threaten by opening their mouth, arching their back, and staring intensely.
These Tamarins walk around on all four limbs. They are very good at getting around, easily running and leaping through the trees. They are able to leap between branches and thin vines in the trees to reach new places.
4. Kinkajou (Potos flavus)
Kinkajou are nocturnal creatures that live up in the trees. Researchers once thought they were solitary animals, but it’s now understood that they prefer to be in social groups. Their social groups are generally made up of two males and one female. There may be juveniles and sub-adults in the group as well.
During the day, the Kinkajou sleeps with its family members, usually in a den made from a hole in a tree. At dusk, they will wake up and participate in grooming activities, socializing, and foraging. Although they like to live in family groups, they will usually look for food alone.
Researchers aren’t quite sure what all their vocalizations mean, but they do have plenty of them. When a Kinkajou first meets another group member, they will vocalize for under 30 seconds. They will hiss and scream when aggressive. More commonly, you will hear a sound similar to a snort followed by some weedle sounds.
5. Southern Two-Toed Sloth (Choloepus didactylus)
As most people know, Sloths move very slowly, but they also do so very deliberately. They spend most of their lives in the branches of trees, usually hanging upside down. They will continue to hang upside down whether they’re eating, sleeping, mating, or even giving birth.
Because sloths are so slow, they will only head to the ground to change trees or to defecate. Their metabolic rate is so slow that they only defecate once a week, and fecal matter can remain in their digestive tract for up to one month. Unfortunately, because they have to defecate on the ground, they are most often killed when they come down to do their business.
Sloths are quite slow to begin with, but they are even worse on the ground. They will simply drag themselves along the ground to move. They are very good swimmers, however. They also spend about 15 hours a day sleeping, only waking up to search for food.
6. Amazon River Dolphin (Inia geoffrensis)
Amazon River Dolphins generally prefer to be solitary and will not often be seen in groups. They will occasionally form groups of up to three dolphins, but the groups are usually made up of the mother and her offspring. Although they are not social with each other, they are frequently seen interacting with other animals when searching for prey.
These creatures are active during the day and night. They are slower than most other dolphin species, generally cruising along at 0.9-1.9 mph/1.5-3.2 kmh. They are exceptionally strong swimmers and will often be seen above moderately intense river rapids where they have to fight against the current.
Amazon River Dolphins are also a quite playful species, rolling, waving their flippers, and throwing their tails in the air. They are even seen rubbing against canoes and grabbing the paddles of fishermen. They like to play with fish and small animals, and will throw around sticks.
7. Amazon Tapir (Tapirus terrestris)
The Amazon Tapir is the largest terrestrial mammal in the Amazon Rainforest that is native to the region. Although these animals are so large, they are not very good at defending themselves. They often find themselves easy prey for jaguars, pumas, and alligators. Also, because they have so much meat, indigenous people often hunt them.
These animals are herbivorous, mostly eating vegetation and fruit. Their favorite food seems to be bananas. They are very good swimmers and are even able to walk at the bottom of ponds, holding their breath. This helps them to feed on aquatic plants as well.
8. Red Howler Monkey (Alouatta seniculus)
Red Howler Monkeys are very social and can be found in groups of about 10 monkeys. Usually, only one member will be a male, with the rest being female. On rare occasions, there might be two males in the group.
In the morning, these types of monkeys are very loud. The males will emit a “dawn chorus”, which is an extremely loud roar that can be heard up to 3.1 miles/5 kilometers away. Although only the male of the group does this vocalization, he will be joined by the males of surrounding groups, making the roar incredibly loud. Of course, this vocalization is where they received their name.
Because the groups are made up mostly of females, they will often work together to raise the young. Generally, the females without an infant of their own will fawn over a baby, gently touching and interacting with them. Sometimes, the adult females will encourage the baby to climb onto her.
Males are tolerant of the juveniles in his group, as long as they are his offspring. He will even allow them to crawl on him. However, when a male takes over a group, he will kill all the offspring that are not his own.
Major Birds Living In The Amazon Rainforest
1. Blue & Yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna)
Blue and Yellow Macaws like to travel in pairs, but they will occasionally be found forming flocks. The pair usually consists of a male and female, and they will fly together so closely that their wings almost touch. Flocks are usually only formed for feeding, and the Macaws will get together in the early morning.
These birds are extremely loud and vocal. They are a prey species, so they are fearful of everything, screaming and flying away at the slightest hint of danger. Even when they are communicating as a pair or as a flock, they will vocalize very loudly with “squawking” sounds.
Macaws are frequently hunted by animals larger than themselves like Harpy Eagles, Hawk Eagles, and Orange-Breasted Falcons. What makes these predators even more frightening for the macaws is that they will snatch the macaws right out of the air. Humans also frequently hunt these birds for the pet trade, or to use their meat and feathers.
2. Masked Trogon (Trogon personatus)
The Masked Trogon will nest in a cavity of soft wood of a rotting trunk. They don’t roost very high, placing their nest less than 42.6 feet/10 meters above the ground, and they will only lay a total of 2 eggs. They have also been known to join flocks of birds of different species.
They are omnivorous, feeding on fruits and insects. When they catch insects, they will do so mid-flight.
3. Toucan (Ramphastidae family)
Toucans have very large bills that are colorful. Because of their size, the bills are made out of spongy material that allows them to be very light. The large bill is ideal for looking for fruit because they can grab a large number of fruits without exerting much energy. Interestingly, the bill even helps them to regulate their temperature in the hot rainforest.
These birds are capable of flying, but they can’t fly very well because they have small wings. Instead, they spend most of their time hopping between branches in the forest canopy.
4. Royal Flycatcher (Onychorhynchus species)
There are four species that are classified as a Royal Flycatcher, but they all have a large red plume of feathers on the crown of their head. They use this bright display of feathers to court a mate, to breed, to defend their territory, and while being handled by humans. When they are not using the crest, it simply lies flat against the head.
These birds will build nests that can be up to 6 feet/1.8 meters long. The nests will be constructed on branches by the water. They create the nests so that they’re hanging over the branch because it makes it harder for predators to get to them.
5. Paradise Tanager (Tangara chilenis)
Paradise Tanagers usually live halfway up the trees in the rainforest and are very quiet. Because they are small, they try not to call attention to themselves. It is thought that they might not have any call at all, or if they do, it is quiet. Despite their quiet demeanor, these birds are brightly colored.
These birds are omnivorous and like to feed on things like fruits, berries, nectar, and insects. Most of their foraging occurs within the canopy and they will look for insects underneath branches.
When Paradise Tanagers are ready to reproduce, they will create a small nest that’s shaped like a cup. The female will lay just two eggs that will be predominantly white with some purple flecks.
1. Peanut Head Bug
The Peanut Head Bug is a harmless insect that likes to hop between branches and leaves. It’s mouth is made up of a straw-like appendage, and they are unable to bite. Despite this, legends have surrounded these bugs for years. Many people used to believe that the bug’s bite was poisonous depending on the color of its wings.
These bugs have lumpy shaped heads that are supposed to help them look like a lizard or snake. It also has large, false eyes on the wings to confuse and scare away predators. If all else fails, they can spray a foul-smelling secretion at their attacker.
2. Blue Morpho Butterfly (Morpho peleides)
The Blue Morpho Butterfly is a very colorful butterfly species that is commonly found in tropical regions. It prefers to fly over open areas like the edges of forests and near rivers. It generally avoids rainforests, but despite this, it can still be found in the Amazon Rainforest.
Unlike most butterflies that feed on nectar, the Blue Morpho Butterfly feeds on decaying fruits and tree sap. Several butterflies will gather at the same feeding site and do not become aggressive with each other.
When looking for a mate, these butterflies can easily distinguish the males from the females because of the markings on their wings. The opposite sexes also have different flight patterns that can distinguish them.
3. Bullet Ant
The Bullet Ant provides a sting that is extremely painful. These insects got their name because their sting is so painful that people have compared it to being shot with a firearm. In fact, researchers say that these ants have one of the most painful bites by an insect in the world.
After being stung, the pain will last anywhere from 5-24 hours. Creatures that are stung by the ants will begin to experience waves of intense pain, shaking, and temporary paralysis. However, as painful as this sting is, it is localized, and the poison will not travel throughout the body.
Unfortunately, not only is the bite of these ants excruciating, but the little insects are very aggressive too. They are extremely territorial and are not afraid to attack if they feel their colony is being threatened.
4. Brazilian Wandering Spider (Phoneutria fera)
Similar to the Bullet Ant, the Brazilian Wandering Spider is an aggressive and venomous types of spiders. These spiders top the charts as being the most venomous animal in the world, however. One reason why these spiders are so dangerous is because they don’t maintain a web. Instead, they wander around the forest floor hiding in dark places where they can’t be seen.
Although these spiders look a lot like tarantulas, they are not. Tarantulas are not venomous and are not dangerous to humans. They are also passive ambush hunters. Brazilian Wandering Spiders are dangerous to humans, and they are active hunters.
5. Pink-Toed Tarantula
Pink-Toed Tarantulas are on the smaller size, and they live in the treetops of the rainforest. It is named the Pink-Toed Tarantula because it has pink coloration at the tips of its feet, while the rest of the body is dark brown and black.
They are active hunters, attacking at night and using the size of their body to restrain their prey. They will feed on small invertebrates, mice, lizards, and frogs. Also, when the tarantulas feel threatened, they can throw the hairs from their body as a defense mechanism.
1. Green Iguana (Iguana iguana)
Green Iguanas will fight with each other, not over food, but over basking sites. There is usually plenty of food so that they don’t mind sharing, but there aren’t enough good places to bask. Basking is incredibly important for these iguanas because it helps them regulate heat and metabolize food.
The males will also become significantly territorial during the mating season. To keep other males away, they will bob their heads in a display of aggression. They will also flare their dewlap and change color.
When Green Iguanas are scared, they will hide or feed rather than fight. However, if something catches them, they will twist their bodies and attempt to hit their attacker with their tail. If all else fails, they can drop their tails to escape.
2. Glass Frog (Centrolenidae sp.)
Glass frogs are frog species that has translucent skin. There are over 100 types of tree frogs that are considered part of the Glass Frog family. With their skin being translucent, it’s very difficult to find new species. So, researchers are still finding new glass frogs, and there’s likely many more than we realize.
Within the rainforest, these frogs like to live high up in the trees. They choose trees that overhang streams. They will lay clutches o eggs on leaves and rocks above the water, and the males will sometimes guard the eggs. When the eggs hatch, the tadpoles will drop right into the water where they can begin growing.
3. Poison Dart Frog (Dendrobatidae sp.)
There are about 200 frogs that fall into the category of “Poison Dart Frog”. These frogs are active during the day, but they are very small. Despite being very small, they can safely roam about during the day because of their coloration. Their skin is very brightly colored to indicate that they are poisonous so that predators will stay away.
Some of these frogs can be found living in the trees, while others live on the ground. Either way, all Poison Dart Frogs like to eat ants and mites. Researchers say that these frogs are not really poisonous, but get their poison from the ants and mites they eat. For this reason, frogs kept in captivity are not considered to be poisonous.
4. Jesus Lizard (Basiliscus basiliscus)
The Jesus Lizard, or the Common Basilisk, is a diurnal reptile that spends most of its day looking for food and resting. When they’re not looking for food, they like to bask in the sun on rocks and along waterways. At night, they will climb trees to rest on branches.
Some people refer to this lizard as the “Jesus Christ Lizard” because it’s able to walk on water. The lizard will stand upright and run across the water on its back legs. Smaller lizards are better at this, and some individuals can run up to 6.5 feet/20 meters across the water surface. If the lizard is too large, they won’t make it as far and will begin to sink. But don’t worry, they can swim, too.
5. Eyelash Viper (Bothriechis schlegelii)
Eyelash Vipers are nocturnal animals that like to stay on their own. They live in trees and will use the leaves as camouflage where they will wait for prey. Many times, they even learn the migration patterns of their favorite prey species. When they do this, they will return to a site where they’ve previously had a successful kill to wait for more.
These snakes are not aggressive predators like many other snakes species. They prefer to ambush and restrain their prey easily without much of a fight. Because of this, they stick to smaller animal species like frogs, lizards, birds, and rats. Although they are not usually aggressive, if a threat comes too close, they will strike.
6. Side-Necked Turtle (Pleurodira sp.)
There are many turtles that are referred to as a “Side-Necked Turtle”. They are named after their defensive posture where they will lay their head and neck to the side, neck to the shell. This is different from most turtles who will retract their head and neck into their shells for protection.
Most of these turtles are omnivores, but some species are herbivores or carnivores. Pleurodira turtles are ancient turtles whose ancestors were in existence 220 million years ago. Today, they are aquatic, or semi-aquatic. In the past, there was a group of these turtles that existed in fully marine environments.
7. Mata Mata Turtle (Chelus fimbriatus)
Unlike most turtles, the Mata Mata Turtle doesn’t do much basking. Instead, they spend the majority of their time underwater. Generally, the only time they will come out on land is when the females need to create their nests. However, these turtles don’t swim very much either because their limbs are very weak. Instead, they sit on the muddy substrate.
These turtles are frazzled looking, and look very similar to a pile of debris. They also move very slowly, so they’re easily able to blend in with their environment. They have very bad vision, but they can hear very well, and they’re easily able to sense motion around them.
1. Red Piranha (Pygocentrus nattereri)
Unlike what many people believe, Red Piranhas are not overly aggressive. They primarily forage for food, and their exact breeding habits change depending on how old they are. Smaller fish will search for their food during the day, while the larger fish will come out in the evening.
They will hunt as a group of 20-30 fish, hiding in vegetation so that they can ambush their prey. Besides ambushing, these fish may also chase down their prey which includes fish, insects, snails, and even plants. Most of their diet consists of fish, but they may only eat chunks.
Now, these hunting tactics seem very aggressive, and indeed they are. However, if you are not a small fish, you have no reason to worry. Piranhas will not attack and eat humans like they show you on TV.
2. Arapaima (Arapaima gigas)
Arapaimas are large predators that feed mostly on other fish. Still, they won’t turn down a bird or small mammal if it happens to be near the water and the Arapaima is given the opportunity. These fish are forced to breathe air, and it has to surface every 10-20 minutes. Because of this, they do most of their hunting at the surface of the water.
These fish are incredibly large, growing up to 9.8 feet/3 meters in length. Their scales alone can be 2.3 inches/6 centimeters in length. However, due to overfishing, most fish do not reach this length. Today, most don’t grow larger than 6.5 feet/2 meters. Still, their massive size and hard scales keep it safe from all predators except caiman and humans.
3. Candiru (Vandellia cirrhosa)
Candiru are parasitic and will eat the blood of other fish. When they find a fish, they will use it as a host by targeting the gills. They may either wait for the gills to open naturally, or they may force themselves inside the gills.
The Candiru then attaches itself onto an aortic artery where the blood will pump right into the fish’s mouth. They will feed for 30-145 seconds after which they will leave the host, sink to the bottom of the river, and burrow into the mud.
These fish will locate their prey by chemical and visual cues. Researchers believe that these fish can probably smell the ammonia of other fish. They also have large eyes, so it’s believed that they have very good eyesight.
4. Electric Eel (Electrophorus electricus)
Electric eels are not true eels species, although they look like them. Their body is long like a snake’s, and they are lacking most of the fins found in other fish. As the name suggests, these fish are able to produce electricity, although they are not overly aggressive. The only time they use their electricity is in defense and when hunting.
The organ that can produce electricity will send out small waves of electricity that the fish uses to locate objects. This is incredibly important because they have poor eyesight and live in dark, murky waters.
5. Bull Shark (Carcharhinus leucas)
Bull sharks are very aggressive species of sharks. When they are ready to attack, their bodies will begin to spin while also moving in a back and forth motion. They tend to swim in a circular motion with their snouts pointed upward when they’re ready to attack. Much of their prey consists of catfish.
In river systems, like the Amazon, these sharks are diurnal and will swim upstream during the day. When moving up the river, they will swim near the bottom of the river. They do the opposite at night, swimming downstream near the top of the river.
6. Payara Vampire Fish (Hydrolycus scomberoides)
The Payara Vampire Fish, or the saber-toothed tiger fish, is a terrifyingly large fish. It has two long and sharp fangs protruding from its mouth, and it can grow up to 2-3 feet/0.6-0.9 meters. Not only do they have two formidable fangs, but the rest of their mouth is made up of tiny, razor-sharp teeth.
These fish prefer to live in fast-moving water like rivers, and they will often find their home beneath waterfalls.
They feed mostly on other fish, including other aggressive fish like piranhas. Payaras aren’t afraid to go after prey and can eat up to 50% of their own body weight in fish. They will usually go after smaller fish like minnows, tetras, and trout. They are even known to chase away non-prey fish so that they can find something to eat.
You won’t only find animals and different kinds of plants with the Amazon Rainforest, people live there too. For the most part, the forest is occupied by indigenous populations. These people have been living in harmony with the forest for centuries.
However, other humans have settled within the forest as well. Not all of these people have bad intentions, but many of the new settlers are continually looking for new ways to use the forest to their advantage.
The Amazon Rainforest is one of the most diverse areas on the earth with over 3 million animal species and over 2,500 tree species. But now, that biodiversity is becoming increasingly at risk. More and more, humans are negatively impacting the environment of the Amazon Rainforest and putting species at risk.
Today, about 1 million species across the globe are threatened with extinction. This number has largely increased over the last 40 years, and that’s mainly due to the impacts from humans.
Between August 2018 and July 2019 alone, the Amazon Rainforest lost 3,800 square miles/9,841 square kilometers of forest. This was the largest rate of deforestation that the earth had seen in a decade.
The deforestation is caused by humans taking land to use it for logging, mining, agricultural expansion, and development. Not only has this deforestation been occurring at unprecedented rates, but deforestation has been creeping into indigenous and protected lands as well.
If too many species go extinct in the Amazon, it can cause a dangerous shift in biodiversity. With a loss in biodiversity, the ecosystem will be thrown out of balance. With enough biodiversity loss, the forest may become unable to sustain itself.
For example, researchers are worried that massive deforestation could lead the forest to a “tipping point”. This tipping point would cause a disruption of the hydrological cycle. Deforestation massive enough could cause the forest to die back to a point that it turns into a savannah. This shift would be catastrophic with the loss of an enormous amount of biodiversity.
Not only is deforestation occurring, but habitat degradation is a factor as well. They sound like the same thing, but they’re not. Habitat degradation means that existing habitats are being negatively impacted, but are not being altogether destroyed.
With increasing deforestation and mining, comes more difficulty for the people logging and mining the area. To better get to their work areas, they are putting in highways and roads. Roads fragment the forest into smaller and divided areas. When the forest is divided, it causes an increase in droughts and fires.
Destruction of habitat and biodiversity is also likely to cause an increase of zoonotic diseases. An increase of these diseases will lead to an even larger loss of biodiversity when species are unable to fight off the diseases. Not only will animals be impacted, but it’s likely that the zoonotic diseases could transfer to humans and impact our communities as well.
The Amazon Rainforest is an incredibly important part of our planet, and the health of the earth largely depends on it. It is our job, as the humans that are destroying it, to help restore the forest to what it once was.
The tipping point that I discussed above is becoming increasingly close. Researchers predict that over half of the Amazon will be destroyed by the year 2030. This is mostly due to the unregulated and unchecked deforestation occurring within the forest.
The Amazon Conservation Organization is working to address and stop illegal gold mining and logging as well as development. They are also working to address climate change and the impacts that are coming with that like increased forest fires, flooding, and extinction.
Along with that, they are working to establish more protected areas and Indigenous reserves. Logging and mining does not need to be eradicated completely, but it needs to become more sustainable. Along with protecting areas, they are working to keep habitats connected. Avoiding fragmentation will keep the forest healthier as a whole.
Besides protecting the natural environment, the Amazon Conservation feels it is necessary to work with the locals. Working directly with people to help develop more sustainable harvesting practices will ensure the sustenance of the forest and people’s livelihoods.
Besides helping the locals to implement sustainable practices, it’s important to protect the rights of the people living there. About 1 million indiginous people live within the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil. With the lack of protections that the Amazon currently has, the indiginous populations are being threatened, and organizations are working to change that.
They also feel it’s very important to apply the most modern scientific concepts to help protect the forest. They work directly in the field and use sensing technology to monitor the health of the forest in real time.
The Amazon Rainforest was first discovered by European explorers in the 16th century. Of course, indiginous people have been living there for thousands of years, so the Europeans didn’t truly “discover” this magnificent forest.
The first European to find the Amazon was Francisco de Orellana. In 1541, he, his expedition partner, and a large group of explorers set off to find Eldorado, the mythical city thought to be hidden deep within the forest. However, they were not prepared for the harshness of the forest, and much of the group died within one month.
After a while, Orellana and his men ran out of supplies. So, they set off down the Rio Napo on a boat to look for supplies. Unfortunately for them, the further they went down the river, the worse the forest became.
However, when the group finally came upon an indiginous settlement, they did not seek out help. Instead, they burned the village, stole the supplies, and killed anyone who did not attempt to escape.
It is likely that the survivors ran down river to warn the other villages. Orellana and his men were soon attacked by other tribes men and women and the attacks were frequent. However, the group kept going until they reached the Amazon river. Eventually, they reached the Atlantic ocean in August 1542.
After that, the French, English, and Portuguese made small missions to the Amazon for exploration. However, it wasn’t until the 17th century that explorers really began to uncover the plants and animals filling the forest.
First, they discovered the chinchona plant that helped in the treatment of malaria. From there, they set off to discover thousands of animal and plant species. Even today, new species are still being discovered. Researchers believe that there are still thousands of undiscovered species within the Amazon.
In just two years between 2014-2015, researchers discovered 381 new species. On average they were finding a new species every two days. Within that 381 new species, they found 216 new plants, 93 fish, 32 amphibians, 20 mammals, 19 reptiles, and 1 bird. These species were found all across the rainforest, in all 9 countries.
This is only a fraction of the species that researchers believe are out there. They estimate that there are 8.7 million species in the Amazon, and that over 80% of the species have not been discovered yet. The only species we’ve discovered are the ones who reside in areas negatively impacted by humans.
Unfortunately, many of the undiscovered species are likely to go extinct before we ever lay eyes on them.