Amazon Wildlife

Mammals

Jaguar - Originally revered by native populations as a divine creature, the Jaguar is certainly the king of beasts in the jungle. It's strength and prowess enable it to take down just about any size prey from deer to caiman that's worth the effort. Unfortunately, due to prior commercial trading of its skin and current encroachment and destruction of its habitat, the jaguar is now considered a threatened species. Visitors to the Amazon that catch a glimpse of this jungle cat are considered especially fortunate.

Tapir - Likened to a large pig, the tapir spends most of its time foraging on low vegetation such as fruits, berries, and leaves. A nocturnal species, tapirs are most likely to be spotted during a night excursion in the jungle. While its size, tough skin, and speed enable it to evade most predators, the tapir is now also considered a threatened species due to hunting and deforestation.

Giant River Otter - An endangered species due to a long history of poaching, and more recently habitat loss and pollution, the Giant Otter is best spotted in and around oxbow lakes such as Lake Sandoval in Puerto Maldonado, near Hacienda Conception and Reserva Amazonica. Measuring over 5 feet in length, Giant Otters are extremely skilled swimmers, are usually found in groups, and feed on a variety of fish.

Amazon River Dolphin - Most noted for their pink color, the river dolphin is gifted with a highly flexible neck and long snout which make it particularly effective at navigating and snatching prey from hiding places in flooded forests. The pink dolphin is best spotted from river cruises like the Aria or Delfin that depart from Iquitos in Peru's northern Amazon region during the dry season when their populations are more concentrated in the main river channels.

Reptiles

Boa - Ranging from the Boa Constrictor to the Anaconda, Boas are one of the best-known snakes in the world. Occupying diverse habitats such as trees, dry lowlands, and rivers, Boas prey on a variety of animals by strangling and then swallowing whole.

Caiman - Best spotted from canoe during a night excursion or during the day basking on river banks, Caimans are nocturnal water-dwelling predators similar to its better-known relative - the alligator.

South American River Turtle - the largest freshwater turtle in South America, the Arrau turtle leads a life similar to the sea turtle. Females lay numerous eggs on select river banks, but due to a large number and variety of predators only a small fraction make it to adulthood.

Amphibians

Poison Dart Frog - Named after the practice of certain indigenous groups, the Poison Dart Frog's skin is extemely toxic. Its brightly displayed colors have become recognized by predators as a sign to stay away.

Giant Cane Toad - Considered one of the most dangerous invasive species, the Giant Cane Toad emits a powerful bufotoxin from its back. Truly adaptable, males even possess the ability to reproduce as females if their genitalia are injured.

Fish

Piranha - Probably the most popularized fish of the Amazon, piranha have frequently been portrayed as highly aggressive, blood-thirsty predators. However, unless food supplies are low, swimming by these creatures is safe.

Electric Eel - Occupying the muddy bottom of relatively still waters, the Electric Eel hunts its prey by emitting a brief but potent electric charge. Although powerful the short duration of the charge is usually not lethal for humans.

Birds

Macaw - Prized for their bright and varied colors, Macaws are largely endangered. In the Peruvian Amazon, Macaws are best spotted on dry days congregating at clay licks - raised river banks. The current belief is that the clay licks are selected based on high sodium content.

Toucan - Also highly distinguishable, Toucans have a prominent beak and display various bright colors. Primarily feeding on fruit, Toucans are opportunistic and have been known to raid other birds' nests for eggs or hunt small insects, and make their nests from tree holes hollowed out by woodpeckers.

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