Animals in South-America



Below you can find a complete list of South American animals. We currently track 213 animals in South America and are adding more every day!

South America is home to some of the most unique, and exotic animals in the world. From the dangerous to the nearly extinct, we’ve created a list of the most interesting animals on the continent and some of the most exciting facts about them.

The Official National Animal of South America

South America is a continent, and as such, it has no national animal. However, many of the countries within its borders have very prominent national animals that are worth mentioning. From exciting mammals to small omnivorous species, every country is incredibly proud of its individual mascot. For example, the national animal of Guatemala is the quetzal bird, while the national animal of Peru is the Vicuna, which is a type of llama.

Where to Find the Top Wild Animals in South America

Most of the animals in South America can be found either in the Amazon Rainforest or along the Andes mountains. If you’re looking for wildlife, you can generally check nearby wooded areas and expansive grasslands. Most animals like to have shelter and tree cover, but many of the local herbivores prefer to live in open plains where they can see predators approaching. Here is a list of some of the most interesting types of wildlife on the content and a few facts about them:

  • Jaguar – The jaguar is the only panther that still exists in the Americas. You can find them in dense forests of all kinds across the continent; there have even been a few sightings within the borders of the United States.
  • Capybara – Capybaras are extremely friendly creatures that socialize with all of the other animals in South America. You can usually find them exploring the rainforest, grazing in grasslands, or enjoying a nice soak in a local watering hole.
  • Tamarin – From the red-handed tamarin to the golden lion tamarin, South America’s tamarin population is famous, noteable, and adorable. You can find this small omnivorous species in jungles and tropical forests, especially if there is fruit, sunshine, and relative safety.
  • Tapir – With their distinctive noses and friendly attitudes, tapirs are one of South America’s most iconic inhabitants. You can find tapirs roaming the continent’s many beautiful grasslands.
  • Llama – Llamas have soft, fluffy fur and gregarious personalities. You can usually find llamas in mountainous areas, but they are also known to descend to slightly lower elevations to explore the grassy plains.
  • Guinea Pig – The guinea pig is typically seen as a house pet, but you can also find herds of guinea pigs living happily in the Andes mountains and the surrounding areas.
  • Sloth – Sloths can be found in the tallest and largest trees across the continent. Many sloths will never leave the tree in which they were born; tree-switching is rare and takes significant effort.

The Most Dangerous Animals in South America Today

South America’s jungles are known for being full of incredibly dangerous animals. Even small omnivorous creatures can turn on you with poisonous teeth and claws. Whether you’re traveling down an undeveloped road or simply out for nature observation, keep an eye out for the following list of rare and exotic wildlife.

  • Green Anaconda – Although they are non-venomous, green anacondas are incredibly large and powerful constrictors that are capable of killing humans even when they are quite young. Give these snakes a wide berth, and they should have no reason to attack you.
  • Poison Dart Frog – Poison dart frogs are so toxic that they aren’t safe to touch with bare hands. Resist the temptation to reach out and pet one of these adorable and brightly-colored amphibians.
  • Bullet Ant – Getting bitten by a bullet ant won’t kill you, but the pain is excruciating and can last up to 24 hours.
  • Black Caiman – Caiman lizards are large and effective predators that dwell deep in the Amazon Jungle. In particular, Black Caimans are responsible for most direct attacks on humans.
  • Kissing Bug – Also known as vampire bugs, kissing bugs are an incredibly poisonous species that like to land on human’s faces and bite them near the lip. Kissing bugs might not kill you immediately, but their unique venom causes around 30% of their victims develop chronic health problems that can result in sudden heart failure later down the line.

Endangered Animals in South America

South America is full of rare, unique, and exotic species that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. Unfortunately, due to a combination of climate change and human interference, more than 30% of species on the content are endangered nearly extinct. Here are just a few fun facts about some of South America’s struggling animals:

  • Orinoco Crocodile – Orinoco crocodiles are some of the largest predators on the continent. However, because they were so heavily hunted for their leather in the 1900s, the population of this species is below 500.
  • Lemur Leaf Frog – Lemur leaf frogs are adorable and friendly rainforest inhabitants. Unfortunately, a disease outbreak in the 2010’s reduced their numbers by over 80%, putting this species at serious risk.
  • Giant Otter – Giant otters live in rivers of the Amazon Jungle, but their population numbers have dropped steadily over the last few decades. Today, the species is preserved in Peru’s many national parks.
  • Black Squirrel Monkey – Due to habitat loss, many squirrel monkeys have been forced to dine on local crops and end up falling victim to pesticides. This problem has made the species endangered far more quickly than local residents expected.
  • Pink Amazon Dolphin – Also known as the Amazon river dolphin, these distinctly pink-colored porpoises are rare but important to the local ecosystem. Population numbers are hard to estimate but have been noted to be dwindling.
  • Jaguar – Jaguars are endangered for a variety of reasons, including loss of habitat and deliberate poaching. These animals were naturally low in numbers and are nearly extinct in the modern day.

South American Countries Animals Lists

Click any of the countries below to see a detailed list of animals located in that country!

South American Animals

Albatross

The largest wingspan of any bird in the world!

Alpaca

They can spit up to 10 feet.

Angora Goat

Each adult Angora goat produces about 12 inches of mohair annually while kids have about 8 inches.

Ant

First evolved 100 million years ago!

Anteater

Found throughout the Southern Hemisphere!

Arapaima

One of the largest freshwater fish

Armadillo

Can curl into a hard, protective ball!

Armyworm

They are so named because they "march" in armies of worms from one crop to another in search of food

Avocet

Has a curved, upturned beak!

Banjo Catfish

The banjo catfish is extremely shy and known for hiding from onlookers.

Barb

There are over 2,000 known species!

Barn Owl

Found everywhere around the world!

Barn Swallow

Older offspring help care for new hatchlings.

Bat

Detects prey using echolocation!

Bear

There are 8 different species!

Beetle

There are more than 350,000 different species

Bird

Not all birds are able to fly!

Black Widow Spider

They typically prey on insects!

Booby

Seabirds found across the South Pacific!

Brazilian Terrier

Small body and tri-coloured coat!

Butterfly

There are thought to be up 20,000 species!

Caiman

Can grow to up 6 meters long!

Caiman Lizard

Caiman lizards are among the largest lizards.

Camel Cricket

The camel crickets that are found in the USA are light brown in color. They also have dark streaks all over their body.

Capybara

Excellent at both diving and swimming

Carpenter Ant

Carpenter ants can lift up to seven times their own weight with their teeth!

Cat

First domesticated by the Ancient Egyptians!

Caterpillar

The larvae of a moth or butterfly!

Catfish

There are nearly 3,000 different species!

Centipede

There are about 3,000 documented species!

Chicken

First domesticated more than 10,000 years ago!

Chinchilla

Natively found in the Andes Mountain range!

Cichlid

There are more than 2 000 known species!

Coati

Found in dense forests and wet jungles!

Cockroach

Dated to be around 300 million years old!

Collared Peccary

Form bands of up to 12 individuals!

Common House Spider

House spiders have the ability to eat most insects in a home.

Cotton-top Tamarin

Found in tropical forest edges!

Cow

There are nearly 1.5 million worldwide!

Crab

There are 93 different crab groups

Crab Spider

Crab Spiders can mimic ants or bird droppings

Crocodile

Have changed little in 200 million years!

Darwin’s fox

It’s not a “true fox.”

Darwin’s Frog

Camouflages itself as a dead leaf!

Discus

One of the only schooling Cichlids!

Dog

First domesticated in South-East Asia!

Dogo Argentino

Loyal and affectionate to their family!

Donkey

First domesticated 5,000 years ago!

Dragonfly

It's larvae are carnivorous!

Duck

Rows of tiny plates line their teeth!

Dung Beetle

The dung beetle can push objects many times its own weight

Eagle

Has exceptional eyesight!

Earwig

There are nearly 2,000 different species!

Eel

Eels can be a mere few inches long to 13 feet!

Electric Eel

Despite its powerful shock, electric eels have terrible vision.

Emperor Tamarin

Has an elegant white moustache!

Falcon

The fastest creatures on the planet!

Fallow deer

The fallow deer has more variation in its coat colors than most other deer.

False Widow Spider

False spiders actually prey on black widow spiders and other hazardous spiders

Fiddler Crab

The fiddler crab gets its name from the motion the males make with their over-sized claw during the mating ritual.

Fila Brasileiro

The breed has a unique, cat-like gait, while females have a finer gait than males.

Flamingo

Sleeps on just one leg!

Fly

There are more than 240,000 different species!

Flying Squirrel

Can glide up to 90 meters!

Frog

There are around 7,000 different species!

Fruit Bat

Among the largest bats in the world

Gecko

There are thought to be over 2,000 species!

Geoffroys Tamarin

Has distinctive V shape on head!

Giant Armadillo

Armadillos have a smell that’s described as strong, sweet and acrid.

Glow Worm

Found inhabiting dense woodland and caves!

Golden Lion Tamarin

Native to the eastern rainforests of Brazil!

Grasshopper

There are 11,000 known species!

Gray Fox

The gray fox has retractable claws and a rotating wrist that allow it to climb trees with some proficiency

Great Blue Heron

Their wingspan is larger than an eagle’s; both males and females help hatch the eggs; rich in symbolism

Guinea Pig

Natively found in the Andes Mountain range!

Guppy

Also known as the Millionfish!

Hamster

Able to run as quickly backwards as forwards!

Hare

Can reach speeds of over 40 mph!

Harpy Eagle

Talon's the size of a grizzly bear's claws!

Hercules Beetle

This dynastine scarab beetle makes a weird huffing sound when it’s disturbed.

Heron

Inhabits wetlands around the world!

Honey Bee

There are only 8 recognized species!

Horned Frog

Natively found in South America!

Horse

Has evolved over 50 million years!

Horsefly

Horseflies have been seen performing Immelmann turns, much like fighter jets.

House wren

The wren’s epithet, aedon, comes from a Greek queen who accidentally killed her only son. She was actually aiming for her nephew, and Zeus took pity on her and turned her into a nightingale.

Howler Monkey

Spends 80% of it's time resting!

Human

Thought to have orignated 200,000 years ago!

Humboldt Penguin

Found on the South American coast!

Hummingbird

Beat their wings up to 80 times per second!

Huntsman Spider

Some huntsman spiders have an interesting way of moving around. Some cartwheel while others do handsprings or backflips.

Ibex

Can jump over 6 feet straight up from a standstill

Ibis

Found in swamps, marshes and wetlands!

Iguana

Uses visual signals to communicate!

Imperial Moth

Since the imperial moth doesn’t eat, it does die shortly after it lays its eggs. Its lifespan is only about one week.

Insects

There are an estimated 30 million species!

Jaguar

The largest feline on the American continent!

Jaguarundi Cat

These cats are expert swimmers.

Keel-Billed Toucan

It's beak can reach nearly 20 cm long!

Kinder Goat

Best jumper of all goats

Kingfisher

Inhabits wetlands and woodlands worldwide!

Kinkajou

The kinkajou is a nimble forest-dwelling mammal of Central and South America.

Kodkod

The kodkod is among the smallest species of cats in the entire world

Ladybug

There are more than 5,000 species worldwide!

Leopard Frog

They can jump up to three feet

Lizard

There are around 5,000 different species!

Llama

Natively found in the Andes Mountain range!

Locust

Each locust can eat its weight in plants each day.

Lungfish

The lungfish first evolved almost 400 million years ago.

Macaw

The largest species of parrot in the world!

Magellanic Penguin

Threatened by oil spills!

Mallard

With an appropriate tail wind, the mallard can travel hundreds of miles a day

Maned Wolf

Despite its name, the Maned Wolf is not actually a wolf.

Marine Iguana

Adult marine iguanas vary in size depending on the size of the island where they live.

Marine Toad

Produces a toxin used in arrow darts!

Mayfly

There are 2,500 known species worldwide!

Mealybug

They have a symbiotic relationship with ants.

Mexican Free-Tailed Bat

Some colonies have millions of bats

Millipede

Some species have a poisonous bite!

Mole

Primarily hunts and feeds on Earthworms!

Mole Cricket

Adult Mole crickets may fly as far as 5 miles during mating season and are active most of the year.

Molly

Known for their calm and peaceful nature!

Monarch Butterfly

During migration, Monarch Butterflies may travel 250 or more miles each day.

Mongrel

Has characteristics of two or more breeds!

Monkey

There are around 260 known species!

Moorhen

Feeds on aquatic insects and water-spiders!

Moth

There are 250,000 different species!

Mountain Lion

Has no real natural predators!

Mouse

Found on every continent on Earth!

Mule

The offspring of a horse and donkey parents!

No See Ums

There are more than 5,000 species.

Ocelot

Also known as the Painted Leopard!

Orb Weaver

Females are about four times the size of males

Otter

There are 13 different species worldwide

Panther

Prefers to hunt at night than during the day!

Parakeet

Monk parakeets are the only parakeets that actually build nests. They’re also the only parakeets to nest in great colonies.

Parrot

Can live for up to 100 years!

Parrotlet

Parrotlets aren't the world's tiniest parrot — that would be the pygmy parrot of Australasia.

Peregrine Falcon

Fastest animal on Earth

Peruvian Inca Orchid

The Peruvian Inca Orchid is the national dog of Peru

Pheasant

Females lay between 8 and 12 eggs per clutch!

Pied Tamarin

Only found in one area of Brazil!

Pigeon

They can find their way back to their nests from up to 1300 miles away.

Amazon River Dolphin (Pink Dolphin)

Also known as the 'Pink Dolphin'

Pink Fairy Armadillo

The smallest known species of Armadillo

Piranha

Generally found in fast-flowing streams!

Poison Dart Frog

Inhabits the jungles of Central and South America!

Porcupine

There are 30 different species worldwide!

Puma

Has longer back legs than front legs!

Quail

Inhabits woodland and forest areas worldwide!

Quetzal

The tail feathers of the male can be 1m long!

Raccoon

Known to wash their food before eating it!

Rat

Omnivores that eat anything!

Rattlesnake

It's venom digests it's prey before it even swallows it!

Red-handed Tamarin

Red hair on hands on feet!

River Turtle

Inhabits freshwater habitats around the world!

Rockhopper Penguin

There are 3 different species!

Rodents

The capybara, the world’s largest rodent, likes to be in and around bodies of water. Because of this, the Catholic Church in South America decided that it was a fish, and people were allowed to eat it during Lent and First Fridays.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Rose-breasted grosbeaks are closely related to cardinals

Roseate Spoonbill

The only Spoonbill in the western hemisphere!

Saber-Toothed Tiger

Canines up to 7 inches long!

Salamander

There are more than 700 different species!

Salmon

Returns upstream every year to spawn

Savanna Goat

Savanna goats have only existed since 1957.

Scarlet Macaw

Like many parrots, the scarlet macaw is capable of vocal mimicry.

Scorpion

There are around 2,000 known species!

Seahorse

Males give birth to up to 1,000 offspring!

Sheep

Around 35 million in the English countryside!

Shrimp

There are 2,000 different species worldwide!

Silver Dollar

Closely related to the Piranha

Skink Lizard

Some skinks lay eggs in some habitats while giving birth to skinklets in other habitats.

Skunk

Also known as the Polecat!

Sloth

It's body temperature is between 30 - 34 degrees!

Slug

They glide around on one foot, which is aided by the slime they produce

Snail

There are nearly 1,000 different species!

Snake

There are around 3,000 known species worldwide

Snapping Turtle

Only found in North America!

Sparrow

There are 140 different species!

Spectacled Bear

Native to the Andes mountains of South America!

Spider Monkey

Found in the tropical jungles of South America!

Spider Wasp

They prey on spiders to feed their larvae or they parasitize other spider wasps.

Squirrel

Small rodents found in woodlands worldwide!

Squirrel Monkey

Lives in groups of up to 500 individuals!

Stick Insect

There are more than 3,000 different species!

Swan

Populations have been affected by pollution!

Tapir

Most closely related to horses and rhinos!

Tarantula Hawk

Tarantula hawks are excellent pollinators, especially for milkweed.

Termite

Their mounds can be up to 9 meters tall!

Tetra

Native to the freshwater streams of South America!

Thrush

The American robin is called the robin because its red breast reminded European settlers of the robin back in the old country.

Tiger Beetle

The adult tiger beetle is one of the fastest land insects in the world

Tortoise

Can live until they are more than 150 years old!

Toucan

There are more than 40 different species!

Tree Frog

Found in warmer jungles and forests!

Turtles

Some species of aquatic turtles can get up to 70 percent of their oxygen through their butt.

Uakari

Have a very short tail for their size!

Umbrellabird

Migrates up and down the mountains!

Vampire Bat

Have a heat sensor on the end of their nose!

Vinegaroon

Vinegaroons can spray 19 times before the glands are depleted

Vulture

There are 30 different species worldwide!

Wasp

There are around 75,000 recognised species!

White-Faced Capuchin

One of the world's most intelligent monkeys!

White-tail deer

White-tail deer are good swimmers

Wolf

Thought to date back more than 300,000 years!

Wolf Spider

Carnivorous arachnid that hunts its prey.

Wood Turtle

Temperature determines the sex of turtle eggs

Woodlouse

This animal can roll up into a ball

Woodlouse Spider

Unlike most spiders, woodlouse spiders don’t build a web.

Woodpecker

There are 200 different species!

Woolly Monkey

Has a long, strong prehensile tail!

X-Ray Tetra

Yellow, black and white striped fins!

Zebra Pleco

The zebra pleco is a bottom feeder with a sucker mouth.

South American Animals List

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