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Animals of the Amazon River Basin


The Amazon rainforest is a moist broadleaf forest that blankets 5,400,000 square kilometers of the Amazon River basin in South America. The shear vastness of this forest is difficult to comprehend. It stretches across the boundaries of nine nations—Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. Its biodiversity is unparalleled—an estimated one in ten animals on the planet inhabits the Amazon rainforest. Listed here are a few of the better-known species from the Amazon rainforest and its surrounding habitats.


Capybara - Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris
Photo © Theo Allofs / Getty Images.
The capybara is the largest member of the rodent family. The species is highly social and lives in groups of up to two dozen individuals. Capybaras are native to South America where their range extends throughout Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia, Uruguay, and Argentina. Capybars live in a variety of different habitats but prefer plces that are close to water such as flooded grasslands, lowland forests, rainforests, and marshes. The closest relatives to the capybaras are the guineapigs and rock cavies.


Jaguar - Panthera onca
Photo © Michael Fairchild / Getty Images.
Jaguars are widely distributed. Their range extends from southern Arizona and New Mexico to northern Argentina and Brazil. The Amazon Basin contains the largest population of jaguars. Their preferred habitat is that of tropical lowland forests. They also inhabit scrublands, coastal forests, and swamps.


Ocelot - Leopardus pardalis
Photo © Berndt Fischer / Getty Images.
The ocelot is a member of the leopard family, a group of cats that inhabits Central and South America. The ocelot is the largest member of its genus--it weighs between 20 and 40 pounds. Ocelots are nocturnal hunters that feed on a variety of small animals such as birds, amphibians, fish, mammals and reptiles. In the Amazon river basin, ocelots inhabit places with dense vegetation such as tropical forests and mangroves swamps.

Giant Anteater

Giant anteater - Myrmecophaga tridactyla
Photo © Berndt Fischer / Getty Images.

Giant anteaters are mammals that inhabit Central and South America. Their range includes the Amazon River basin, although they live in a variety of habitats including grasslands, deciduous forests, rain forests, savannas, wet forests, and swamps. They seek shelter at night in hollow logs, at the foot of a tree, or in the shelter of a bush.


Goldon Lion Tamarin

Golden lion tamarin - Leontopithecus rosalia
Photo © Paul Oomen / Getty Images.

The golden lion tamarin, also known as the golden marmoset, is an endangered primate that lives in three small areas of tropical rainforest and swamp forests in southeastern Brazil. Golden lion tamarins are New World monkeys that have long fur that is a bright reddish orange color. They are small monkeys, weighing at most about 1.5 pounds.

Venezuelan Red Howler

Photo © Rkhalil / iStockphoto.

The Venezuelan red howler is a species of New World monkey that lives in the westernmost forests of the Amazon River Basin. Venezuelan red howlers have a long prehensile tail and thick redish-brown fur. They have a small, stubby nose and a large lower jaw. Venezuelan red howlers are omnivores that feed primarliy on leaves, but their diet also includes small animals, fruit, nuts, and flowers.

Green Poison Dart Frog

Green poison dart frog - Dendrobates auratus
Photo © Karen Baard-de Bloois / Shutterstock.

Green poison dart frogs live in the rainforests of Central and South America. Green poison dart frogs belong to a family of frogs that includes the world's most poisonous amphibians. The green poison dart frog is a vibrantly colored frog, with distinct black and green patterns (although the green color can vary quite a bit, ranging from golden to blue). 

Keel-Billed Toucan

Keel-billed toucan - Ramphastos sulfuratus
Photo © Art Wolfe / Getty Images.

The keel-billed toucan is a member of the woodpecker family that inhabits the tropicl rainforests of the Mexico, Venezuela and Colombia. The keel-billed toucan feeds on fruit, insects, eggs, and small animals. Keel-billed toucans have a black body, a yellow neck and chest, and a long, broad colorful bill. Like all members of the woodpecker family, the keel-billed toucan has zygodactyl feet which means two of their toes face forwards and two face backwards. This enables them to grasp branches tightly.

Three-Toed Sloth

Three-toed sloth - Bradypus
Photo © James Gritz / Getty Images.
Three-toed sloths are a group of tree-dwelling mammals whose range extends throught Central and South America and includes areas of the Amazon River basin. There are four species of three-toed sloths alive today—the pygmy three-toed sloth, the pale-throated sloth, the brown-throated sloth and the maned sloth. Three-toed sloths are slow-moving animals that live in the forest canopy. They are herbivores that feed on leaves, shoots and fruit.

Harpy Eagle

The harpy eagle is the largest bird of prey in the New World. Harpy eagles have sooty black feathers covering their upper body, ligher grey feathers on their head and face, and black feathers on the upper portion of their neck. The species is rare in Central America and northern parts of South America but is most abundant in Brazil's amazon rainforests. The harpy eagle is a top predator that feeds on arboreal mammals including monekys and sloths.
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