Animals in South America

Updated: February 14, 2023
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Below you can find a complete list of South American animals. We currently track 576 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.

Animals in Peru

The Vicuna, a type of llama, is the national animal of Peru.


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.

While Africa is the most popular continent to travel to for going on safaris, South America is also a destination that offers jungle safaris and other wildlife viewing options. Some of the best destinations to see diverse wildlife include the Galapagos Islands, Costa Rica, Brazil, Ecuador, and even Antarctica. Not only can you see interesting land mammals like sloths, jaguars, and llamas, but the oceans are teeming with manta rays, whales, and even rare pink dolphins.

sloth on the ground

The sloth is a sluggish tree-dweller native to Central and South America.

©Kristel Segeren/

Here is a list of some of the most interesting types of wildlife on the continent 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, notable, 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. In areas that humans inhabit, South American animals that seem to pose a large threat to are snakes. There are an estimated 70,000 cases of snake bites reported annually, with venomous pit vipers being responsible for 70-90% of them. The chief offenders are snakes like the fer-de-lance and the South American rattlesnake.

Fer-de-lance snake in the jungles of Costa Rica

There’s a 7-9% mortality rate for humans bit by a Fer-de-lance snake who do not receive anti-venom.

©Jim Cumming/

But snakes are not the only animals to beware of in South America. 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 faces and bite them near the lip. Kissing bugs might not kill you immediately, but their unique venom causes around 30% of their victims to 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 or nearly extinct.

As of 2022, 361 animal species were registered as endangered on the IUCN Red List. A whopping 326 of those species inhabit Brazil. Two main reasons are illegal hunting and forest fires. Also, the largest savannah area in South America, referred to as the “Cerrado,” stretches across Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay, and is inhabited by  837 species of birds, 120 reptiles, 150 amphibians, 1,200 fish, 90,000 insects, and 199 mammals. Because the Cerrado is vanishing due to cattle ranching and agricultural expansion, multiple species have come under threat of extinction like the maned wolf, jaguar, giant anteater, and gain armadillo.

Wild Dog Breeds: Maned Wolf

The maned wolf, whose habitat is the Cerrado, is under threat of extinction due to habitat loss.

©JWKS Photomancy/

Here are just a few 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 2010s 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.

The 5 Rarest South American Animals

The Golden


Tamarin is an endangered New World monkey native to Brazil.

©Mistvan / Creative Commons – Original

If you were to take a trip to South America, we’ve compiled a list of animals that would be worth your efforts to try and catch a glimpse of in the wild. However, it’d be a challenging task, as these animals are rare, either because they are endangered or just plain elusive.

  • Galapagos Tortoise: This endangered species once numbered around 250,000 when Charles Darwin famously visited the islands. But by the 1970s their numbers had dwindled to 3000 because of their meat and oils and fats. Invasive species like rats also struck a blow to their populations. You have a good chance of seeing one if you travel to the Galapagos Islands.
  • Golden Lion Tamarin: This endangered New World monkey, also called the golden marmoset, is native to the Atlantic coastal forests of Brazil. Spotting one of these adorable creatures in the wild would be a rare treat.
  • Amazon River Dolphin: One of the rarest and most beautiful sea creatures found in South America is this pink-colored river dolphin, which inhabits the Orinoco and Amazon basins, as well as the upper Madeira River in Bolivia.
  • Margay: It’s a small, solitary wild cat that lives a nocturnal lifestyle in evergreen and deciduous forests of Central and South America. They were illegally hunted till the 1990s, which greatly decreased their numbers. This animal would be rare to see in the wild, but worth it.
  • Maned Wolf: While neither a fox nor a wolf, the maned wolf has features of both animals. It’s a wild dog species that inhabits open and semi-open areas such as the Cerrado.

The 5 Largest South American Animals

While no land animal compares in size to the elephant, there are some South American animals that make the list for their height, length, and bulk. Here’s a look at the five largest South American animals:

  • Jaguar: With a length of up to 6 ft and a max weight of 348 lbs, the Jaguar is the largest wild cat in the Americas and the third largest cat in the world. It sports a beautiful yellow coat covered in rosettes that helps it hide in jungle vegetation, while some jaguars are pure black in color.
  • Caiman: While this reptile is not as big as the standard alligator or crocodile, it does compete for the top prize of the largest animal in South America with a length of 16-20 feet and a weight of 13-88 pounds. Caimans inhabit the rivers, lakes, swamps, marshes, and mangroves of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay.
  • Andean Condor: This bird is not only the largest in South America but the biggest flying bird and bird of prey in the world! Its wingspan is a maximum of 10’10” wide and its max weight is 33 lbs. It’s the national bird of Bolivia, and also inhabits Peru, Chile, Argentina, and Columbia.
  • Tapir: Besides taking the top prize as the largest land mammal in South America, the tapir is also one of the oldest living mammals, its origins dating back to the Eocene Epoch, from 56 to 33.9 million years ago. Its height can reach to nearly 4 feet and its weight is up to 700 pounds. This unique animal looks like a cross between a pig, rhino, and horse, and sports a long proboscis.
  • Capybara: The capybara is the largest rodent species on earth, having a max weight of 154 lbs and a max height of 2 ft. Related to guinea pigs, capybaras are social animals that live in groups of up to 100 in areas like swamps, rivers, ponds, and lakes. They are not semi-aquatic but are excellent swimmers.

Honorable mention: Hippopotamus

The hippo is not native to South America, but rather to Africa. But Pablo Escobar had a set of four imported to his compound in Colombia during his reign, and now there are up to 120 hippos in that country, some of which have wandered up to 230 miles from his compound, where most still reside on or near. Scientists have warned that by 2034, there could be as many as 1,400 hippos, which could pose a threat to manatees and other fish species. Hippos can grow up to 16 feet long, weigh up to 4.5 tons, and sport teeth measuring 20 inches long.

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

Abyssinian Guinea Pig

They are one of the oldest breeds of guinea pig

Acadian Flycatcher

Their nests are sloppily held together and have an abandoned appearance

Africanized bee (killer bee)

Will chase intruders up to a quarter mile from their hives


The agouti is one of the only animals that can crack open Brazil nut pods!


The largest wingspan of any bird in the world!


They can spit up to 10 feet.

Amazon Parrot

These parrots can be trained to be "talking birds" that mimic human speech

Amazon Tree Boa

Amazon tree boas come in a rainbow of colors.

Amazonian Royal Flycatcher

They use their bright royal-looking crests during mating season


They are the heaviest snake in the world

Angora Goat

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


Their name means snake bird


First evolved 100 million years ago!


Has the longest tongue of any animal in relation to its body size!


One of the largest freshwater fish


The first fossil from the genus Arctotherium was discovered back in 1852.

Argentavis Magnificens

The Argentavis Magnificens was the heaviest flight bird to ever exist

Argentine Black and White Tegu

giant lizard kept as pets


The Argentinosaurus weighed as much as 10 elephants!


Can curl into a hard, protective ball!


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

Aruba Rattlesnake

This rattlesnake only lives on the island of Aruba.

Asian Lady Beetle

Asian lady beetles infest indoor spaces, but they do not reproduce indoors.


Has a curved, upturned beak!

Bagworm Moth

There are approximately 1350 species in the bagworm moth family (Psychidae), which forms part of the order Lepidoptera.

Banjo Catfish

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


There are over 1768 known species!


Largest terrestrial predator of the Cenozoic era

Bark Beetle

Not all bark beetles feed on a tree's bark. Some species feed on fruits, seeds, and other parts of the plant

Bark Scorpion

Glow under UV light

Barn Owl

Found everywhere around the world!

Barn Swallow

Older offspring help care for new hatchlings.

Basilisk Lizard

Can run/walk on water.


Detects prey using echolocation!


There are 8 different species!

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs feed for 4-12 minutes.


Rock paintings of bees date back 15,000 years


There are more than 350,000 different species

Beewolf wasp

They hunt bees

Belgian Canary

The Belgian canary is one of the oldest and most influential in its genus.


Not all birds are able to fly!

Biscuit Beetle

The biscuit beetle form a symbiotic relationship with yeast

Black Aphids

One of the most destructive pests in the world

Black-Bellied Whistling Duck

They have bright pink bills.

Black Tarantula

They can grow to be 7 inches long!

Black Widow Spider

They typically prey on insects!

Black Witch Moth

Some folklore associate Black Witch Moths with bad luck (and even death!), while other associates them with good fortune.

Blackburnian Warbler

They are the only songbird in North America with an orange throat!

Blind Snake

The blind snake is often mistaken for a worm.

Blister Beetle

Blister beetles release a toxic fluid that causes blistering when they're threatened.


Can smell rotting carcasses up to one mile away

Blue Andalusian

Blue Andalusian chickens are a classic example used to teach students about genetics!

Blue Dragon Sea Slug

They inflict a painful, venomous sting

Blue Eyed Pleco

Can live safely with many types of fish.

Blue Tanager (Blue-Grey Tanager)

They travel and forage in pairs or groups

Blue Tang

One of the most colorful members of the genus Acanthurus


In spring, the male bobolink is the only North American bird who is dark below and light colored above. This makes identification easy.

Bolivian Anaconda

This is a newly described species! In 2002, scientists realized they had a different species in Bolivia.

Bombardier Beetle

Spray a noxious solution from their abdomens


Seabirds found across the South Pacific!

Brahminy Blindsnake

These snakes have been introduced to all continents, except Antarctica!

Brazilian Black Tarantula

They seem to move in slow motion.

Brazilian Terrier

Small body and tri-coloured coat!

Brazilian Treehopper

“Mild-Mannered Minimonsters”

Brown Dog Tick

Can live its entire life indoors


The most common species of bee!

Burrowing Owl

The burrowing owl lives in underground burrows

Bush Dog

Bush dogs have webbed toes to help them swim.

Bushmaster Snake

The bushmaster’s scientific name means “silent death.”


There are thought to be up 17,500 species!

Cactus Moth

Cactus moths can cause serious damage to cacti in locations where they have no predators.


Some species' babies use their hooked or scraper-like teeth to peel off and eat their mother's skin


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.

Canada Warbler

These birds travel more than 3,000 miles during migration!


Named after Capuchin friars.


Excellent at both diving and swimming

Carpenter Ant

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

Carpet Beetle

Carpet beetles eat different animal and plant-based products, depending on what stage of their lifecycle they are in; these foods include pollen, flour, wool, and fur.

Carrion Beetle

Carrion beetles' diets depend on the specie. Some eat decaying carcasses, while others scavenge in decaying plant matter and dung.


Cascabels rely on their camouflage first, and rattle if that doesn't work.


May have been domesticated up to 10,000 years ago.

Cat-Eyed Snake

Evidence indicates that females can delay fertilization and store sperm for later years to produce eggs even in the absence of contact with a male!


The larvae of a moth or butterfly!


There are nearly 3,000 different species!


There are about 3,000 documented species!

Chestnut-Sided Warbler

They inhabit regrowing forests


First domesticated more than 10,000 years ago!


Surviving on the skin cells of humans and animals

Chilean Rose Tarantula

They can cling to the side of an aquarium.


Shared traits from several dinosaur groups


Natively found in the Andes Mountain range!


There are more than 2 000 known species!

Click Beetle

Click beetles are named for the clicking noise they make to escape predators.

Clothes Moth

Clothes Moths can remain in the larvae stage for up to 2 years, but adults only live 10 days.

Coachwhip Snake

Coachwhip snakes pose little danger to people


Found in dense forests and wet jungles!


Dated to be around 300 million years old!

Codling Moth

Pupae are able to undergo diapause to survive poor fruit yield years and winter.

Collared Peccary

Form bands of up to 12 individuals!

Common Furniture Beetle

The common furniture beetle feeds exclusively on wood

Common House Spider

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


They are intelligent and noisy, often mimicking sounds and learning vocabulary.

Coral Snake

There are over 80 species of coral snake worldwide.


They can fly 35 mph and dive 150 feet below water.

Corn Earworm

The corn earworm is capable of devouring an entire crop in just a few days

Cory Catfish

All Cory Catfish have three pairs of barbels around their mouth that they use to detect food.

Cotton-top Tamarin

Found in tropical forest edges!


There are nearly 1.5 billion worldwide!


There are 93 different crab groups

Crab-Eating Fox

The crab-eating fox is extremely adaptable, living in all sorts of habitats and eating almost any available food.

Crab Spider

Crab Spiders can mimic ants or bird droppings


Female crayfish aren't that maternal; they have to secrete a form of pheromone, referred to as maternal pheromones, that encourages them to take care of their offspring and prevents them from eating their young.


Male crickets can produce sounds by rubbing their wings together


Have changed little in 200 million years!


Crocodylomorphs include extinct ancient species as well as 26 living species today.


A group of these birds is called a Murder.


Damselfish belong to the family Pomacentridae

Darkling Beetle

Darkling Beetles have segmented antennae. Each one is divided into eleven segments.

Darwin’s fox

It’s not a “true fox.”

Darwin’s Frog

Camouflages itself as a dead leaf!

Deer Mouse

Roughly 60 different species of deer mice range from Canada to Central America!


Desmostylus has no living descendant.


They have a unique call that they are named for.

Dinosaur Shrimp

These "shrimp" evolved to survive very harsh climates, which is one reason they have been able to live so long.


One of the only schooling Cichlids!


Deodicurus was one of the largest glyptodonts to have ever lived.


First domesticated in South-East Asia!

Dog Tick

Dog ticks feed on dogs and other mammals

Dogo Argentino

Loyal and affectionate to their family!


First domesticated 5,000 years ago!


It's larvae are carnivorous!

Dubia Cockroach

The most popular species of feeder roach


Rows of tiny plates line their teeth!

Dung Beetle

The dung beetle can push objects many times its own weight

Dusky Shark

The Dusky Shark sometimes eats trash discarded by humans.

Dwarf Boa

Some species can change color from dark to light, and back again.


Has exceptional eyesight!


They are hermaphrodites, which means they have male and female organs


There are nearly 2,000 different species!

Eastern Cottontail

Can run up to 18 miles per hour

Eastern Kingbird

The eastern kingbird is a fierce fighter once known as the butcher king!

Eastern Meadowlark

They can live up to 9 years.


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


Most species are relatively vocal, making harsh croaking sounds and squeals.

Electric Eel

Despite its powerful shock, electric eels have terrible vision.

Elegant Tern

Have a lifespan of 20 years or more

Elephant Beetle

The males have multiple horns at the front of their bodies.

Ember Tetra

Ember tetras are one of the smallest shoaling fish in the world

Emerald Tree Boa

Their teeth are as long as a fully-grown reticulated python

Emperor Tamarin

Has an elegant white moustache!

Executioner Wasp 

The Executioner Wasp's sting is one of the most painful in the world. 

Eyelash Viper

While the eyelash viper can be a pet, be cautious – they are extremely venomous!


The fastest creatures on the planet!

Fallow deer

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

False coral snake

The false coral snake mimics both the coral snake and the cobra to scare away predators

False Water Cobra

There are several color morphs, including lavender!

False Widow Spider

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

Fancy Mouse

Fancy mice are beloved pets with a history of domestication spanning thousands of years!

Fer-de-lance Snake

The Most Dangerous Snake in the Americas

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.


Finches have strong, conical bills that help them break open tough seeds that many other birds cannot.


The firefly produces some of the most efficient light in the world


Sleeps on just one leg!


Adult fleas can jump up to 7 inches in the air

Flea Beetle

Flea beetles can jump like fleas when threatened.

Fleckvieh Cattle

Besides being bred for milk and meat, these cattle were also used as draft oxen.

Flour Beetle

Flour beetles are adapted to survive in very dry environments.


There are more than 240,000 different species!

Flying Squirrel

Can glide up to 90 meters!

Freshwater Eel

Freshwater eels are actually catadromous, meaning they migrate to saltwater to spawn

Freshwater Jellyfish

The freshwater jellyfish is native to China but is now found all over the world

Fritillary Butterfly

Some emit noxious defense chemicals


There are around 7,000 different species!

Fruit Bat

Among the largest bats in the world

Fruit Fly

Fruit flies are among the most common research animals in the world

Fulvous Whistling Duck

They build a ramp from their nest, which leads to a nearby water source

Galapagos Shark

Galapagos sharks are cannibalistic and sometimes eat their young, so the pups stay away from the adults in shallow water.


There are thought to be over 2,000 species!

Geoffroys Tamarin

Has distinctive V shape on head!

German Cockroach

The most common type of urban roach

Giant Armadillo

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

Giant Leopard Moth

When giant leopard moths mate, their mating sessions last over 24 hours.


Found inhabiting dense woodland and caves!


Males form large mating swarms at dusk

Golden Lancehead

Golden lancehead snakes climb trees to prey on birds.

Golden Lion Tamarin

Native to the eastern rainforests of Brazil!

Goliath Grouper

Massive reef fish with a strong tail


The goshawk is a popular choice among European falconers


There are 11,000 known species!

Gray Catbird

Their songs have cat-like qualities and can mimic other birds and animals, like tree frogs.

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

Great Crested Flycatcher

This species makes use of some truly unusual nesting material, including snakeskin and garbage

Great Kiskadee

The great kiskadee is a highly adaptable predator that can live in almost any habitat within its range and can hunt in the air, on the ground and in the water.

Great Potoo Bird

At night, they make a terrifying low call that sounds like a distressed moan or growl.


They swim like frogs

Green Anaconda

Females are often five times longer than males.

Green Bottle Blue Tarantula

The spiderlings look very different than the adults.


Many grouper can change their sex, and it is always from female to male.

Guinea Pig

Natively found in the Andes Mountain range!

Gulper Catfish 

Gulper catfish can consume prey twice its size


Also known as the Millionfish!

Gypsy Moth

One of the most invasive species in the world

Hamburg Chicken

This breed doesn't usually make nests or incubate their own chicks.


Able to run as quickly backwards as forwards!


Can reach speeds of over 50 mph!

Harpy Eagle

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

Harris’s Hawk

Their vision is eight times better than a human's


While the Ferruginous hawk is the largest specie in the USA, Asia’s Upland buzzard is the biggest overall.

Hawk Moth Caterpillar

Many hawk moth caterpillars eat toxins from plants, but don’t sequester them the way milkweed butterflies do. Most toxins are excreted.

Hepatic Tanager (Red Tanager)

Parents and their young sing sweetly to each other

Hercules Beetle

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


Inhabits wetlands around the world!


Hogfish can change their sex from female to male

Hognose snake

Prima Donnas of the Snake World

Honey Bee

There are only 8 recognized species!

Horned Beetle

These beetles are herbivores but have an intimidating appearance because of the horn-like projection on their heads. However, they are entirely harmless to humans, as they don't sting or bite.

Argentine Horned Frog

Natively found in South America!


Has evolved over 50 million years!


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

House Sparrow (English Sparrow)

The house sparrow has been introduced all over the world

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.


The fly has no teeth

Howler Monkey

Spends 80% of it's time resting!


Thought to have orignated 200,000 years ago!

Humboldt Penguin

Found on the South American coast!


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.

Hyacinth Macaw

The Hyacinth Macaw is the largest flying parrot in the world!


Can jump over 6 feet straight up from a standstill


Found in swamps, marshes and wetlands!


Unlike present-day pengiuns, Icadyptes lived in a warm habitat near the equator.


Uses visual signals to communicate!

IMG Boa Constrictor

The first IMG boa was born in a litter of anerythristic boas.

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.

Indigo Snake

Indigo snakes use brute force to overpower their prey.


Insects go back over 350 million years, making the creatures older than man, flowering plants and dinosaurs.


There are an estimated 30 million species!


They form lifelong pair bonds and live in groups near water sources.


The jacana has the ability to swim underwater

Jack Crevalle

One of the biggest species in the Caranx genus


The largest feline on the American continent!

Jaguarundi Cat

These cats are expert swimmers.

Japanese Bantam Chicken

Japanese bantam chickens are the best flying chicken species

Josephoartigasia monesi

Josephoartigasia monesi the largest known rodent

Jumping Spider

Some can jump 50 times the length of their bodies

Keel-Billed Toucan

It's beak can reach nearly 20 cm long!

Kentucky Warbler

The Kentucky Warbler appears to wear bright yellow cat-eye glasses!


Can hang suspended on wind currents

Keyhole Cichlid

When these fish feel stressed, their skin color will change from yellow-cream to brown.


The killdeer feigns injury to draw a predator away from its nest.


Killifish are highly sought after for their peaceful nature and ability to adapt to most aquarium communities.

Kinder Goat

Best jumper of all goats

King Vulture

The king vulture is the second largest New World vulture species


Inhabits wetlands and woodlands worldwide!


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

Kissing Bugs

Kissing bugs derive their name from the location they prefer to bite, which is usually close to the lips of the host


Produce weak electric fields


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

Lace Bug

May bite when threatened


There are more than 5,000 species worldwide!

Larder Beetle

Larder beetles were named based on their attraction to food storage rooms or cupboards, but they do not feed on stored food products. 

Leafcutter Ant

Leafcutter ants have been farming fungus under the forest floor for up to 50 million years!


Has 10 pairs of eyes!


Leedsichthys is one of the largest fish ever discovered

Leopard Frog

They can jump up to three feet


Leptocephali have flat bodies filled with jelly-like substances, surrounded by a thin layer of muscle.

Lesser Scaup

Young lesser scaups learn to dive as soon as their down dries.

Lipstick Albino Boa

Lipstick albino boas are a designer morph that you'll only find from breeders.


The Livyatan had 1 to 1.2 foot long, interlocking teeth


There are around 5,000 different species!


The lizardfish can camouflage itself against the sandy bottom to avoid predators.


Natively found in the Andes Mountain range!


Each locust can eat its weight in plants each day.

Lone Star Tick

Only females have the ‘lone star’ marking


The lungfish first evolved almost 400 million years ago.


The largest species of parrot in the world!


The Macrauchenia was a large mammal, at nearly ten feet in length, weighing about 2,299 pounds.

Magellanic Penguin

Threatened by oil spills!


Will only live in wet areas


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.


Margays are one of the world’s most highly adapted cat species for climbing trees!

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!


There are 2,500 known species worldwide!

Mealworm Beetle

In 1968, the mealworm beetle traveled to space and circled the moon on the Soviet mission Zond 5.


They have a symbiotic relationship with ants.


Megatherium probably used its lips more than its tongue when feeling for choice leaves in the treetops.

Mexican Eagle (Northern crested caracara)

The northern crested caracara mates for life with its partner

Mexican Free-Tailed Bat

Some colonies have millions of bats


Some species have a poisonous bite!


Mockingbirds are incredible mimics that can learn hundreds of songs!


The mojarra's protruding mouth allows it to sift along the seabed for food


Primarily hunts and feeds on Earthworms!

Mole Crab (Sand Flea)

They eat jellyfish tentacles

Mole Cricket

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


Most molluscs have more than one heart


Known for their calm and peaceful nature!

Monarch Butterfly

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


Has characteristics of two or more breeds!


There are around 260 known species!

Moonglow Boa

Moonglow boas are the result of mixing three genetic traits.


Feeds on aquatic insects and water-spiders!

Morpho Butterfly

Collectors prize them for their bright wings


Only the female mosquito actually sucks blood


There are 250,000 different species!

Mountain Lion

Has no real natural predators!

Mourning Warbler

The Mourning Warbler was named for its gray head, which resembles a mourning veil!


Found on every continent on Earth!

Mouse Spider

The female mouse spider is rarely seen because they don't leave their burrows.


The offspring of a horse and donkey parents!

Muscovy Duck

Unlike most duck species, the Muscovy is silent and only makes noise when excited or threatened.

Mussurana Snake

Mussurana snakes help keep rodents from overrunning farms.


Causes primary amoebic meningoencephalitis


no stomach to digest food


Nematodes range in size from 1/10 of an inch to 28 feet long

Neon Tetra

Neon Tetras are very social and peaceful fish.

Night Heron

When they feel threatened juvenile night herons vomit their stomach contents.


There are 97 nightjar species across 20 genera!

No See Ums

There are more than 5,000 species.

Northern Harrier

They can reach speeds of 25 Mph but prefer to soar low and slow.

Northern Pintail

Northern pintails migrate at night with speeds reaching 48 miles per hour!

Northern Screamer

They are closely related to magpie geese


An invasive species, one female nutria can birth up to 200 babies in just a few years of living!


Also known as the Painted Leopard!


Olingos are part of the raccoon family.

Oranda Goldfish

Oranda goldfish are one of the most popular fancy goldfish breeds

Orange Tanager (Orange-Headed Tanager)

They inhabit the lowlands of the Amazon rainforest

Orb Weaver

Females are about four times the size of males

Orchard Oriole

They use rapid wingbeats to hover over foliage as they search for food.

Oriental Cockroach

Unlike other cockroach species that live indoors living off humans, oriental cockroaches are outdoor scavengers. 

Orinoco Crocodile

Orinoco crocodiles are the largest predators in South America; they're also going extinct!

Oscar Fish

The Oscar fish has teeth in its throat!


They reuse nesting sites for 70 years!


There are 13 different species worldwide


The ovenbird is named for its unusual nest, which is shaped like an oven!


The owl can rotate its head some 270 degrees

Owl Butterfly

Owl butterflies derive their name from big spots on each hindwing that resemble owl eyes

Owlfly (Ascalaphidae)

Adult owlflies can capture prey while flying in the air.


Prefers to hunt at night than during the day!

Panthera atrox (American Lion)

Panthera atrox was about 25 percent larger than modern lions


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


Can live for up to 100 years!

Parrot Snake

The parrot snake shows off with bright green and bronze colors that cover its entire body.


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

Patagonian Cavy

Patagonian cavies run anywhere from 18-45 mph!

Patagonian Mara

Patagonian maras mate for life, but raise their pups in large communal dens!


The patagotitan's bones were hollow and air-filled.

Peacock Bass

Peacock bass is known for their aggressive behavior and predatory instincts, making them a challenging target for sport fishermen.


The Pelagornis is larger than the largest living bird today.


The biggest members of the Pelagornithidae family were the largest flying birds known.

Peregrine Falcon

Fastest animal on Earth

Peruvian Guinea Pig

The Peruvian guinea pig is well known for its long, soft tresses and edgy bangs.

Peruvian Inca Orchid

The Peruvian Inca Orchid is the national dog of Peru


Females lay between 8 and 12 eggs per clutch!

Phoenix Chicken

These small chickens have tails that can be up to five feet long!


It's a genus of terror birds

Pictus Catfish

Pictus catfish are social fish that should be kept in groups of 4 or more

Pied-Billed Grebe

Chicks stay on the parents' backs until they learn to swim

Pied Tamarin

Only found in one area of Brazil!


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

Pink Toed Tarantula

Can jump short distances

Pipe Snake

Some of these snakes flatten their neck and raise their heads to imitate cobras if they’re threatened.


Generally found in fast-flowing streams!

Pit Viper

Pit vipers's fangs fold up into their mouths when they don't need them.

Platinum Arowana

The male broods the eggs and baby fish in his mouth.


Pliosaurs were the short-necked version of plesiosaurs.

Poison Dart Frog

Inhabits the jungles of Central and South America!

Polka Dot Stingray

Can detect electrical fields from other creatures

Pompano Fish

They are bottom-feeders


There are 30 different species worldwide!


The potoo’s eyelids have slits that let them see even when their eyes are closed.

Powderpost Beetle

Powderpost beetles prefer living in moist tree limbs, dead wood, and branches. They get into homes through infested joists, paneling, rafters, flooring, and finished wood products.

Praying Mantis

The mantis can turn its head 180 degrees.


Pterodactyl is not technically a dinosaur. Although they lived during the same time as dinosaurs, they are classified as winged reptiles.


"The ribcage of a Puertosaurus was as large as a school classroom!"


Has longer back legs than front legs!

Pumpkin Patch Tarantula

They are considered dwarf tarantulas.

Purple Gallinule

They build their nests on the water, anchoring it to nearby aquatic vegetation.

Purple Tarantula

Females live more than twice as long as males, up to 12 years old.


Purussaurus had a bite force that is higher than that of any creature that has ever lived


Inhabits woodland and forest areas worldwide!


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


Known to wash their food before eating it!

Rainbow Boa

The rainbow boa is named for its iridescent skin that refracts light and creates a rainbow-colored effect.


Omnivores that eat anything!

Rat Snakes

Rat snakes are constrictors from the Colubridae family of snakes.


Rattlesnakes may have evolved their rattle to warn bison away from them.

Red-Eyed Tree Frog

Despite their spectacular coloration, red-eyed tree frogs aren’t poisonous and can be kept as pets.

Red-Footed Tortoise

Male and female Red-Footed Tortoises move their heads to communicate.

Red-handed Tamarin

Red hair on hands on feet!

Red-Lipped Batfish

Despite its weird looks, the red-lipped batfish is harmless to humans

Red Tail Boa (common boa)

Red tailed boas don’t suffocate their prey, they squeeze until the heart stops circulating blood to the brain.

Redhump Eartheater

The redhump eartheater are very passive fish and do well in aquariums with non-cichlid species

Redtail Catfish

One of three giant catfish species


Male rheas mate with up to a dozen females and single-handedly raise up to 80 chicks at once!

Rhino Beetle

Rhinoceros beetles can lift objects 850 times their weight

River Turtle

Inhabits freshwater habitats around the world!

Robber Flies

The female pretend they are dead if they do not find the male worthy of mating.

Rockhopper Penguin

There are 3 different species!


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.


Will mate with the entire flock!

Root Aphids

Nymphs take 9 to 10 days on average to mature, with a complete lifespan of an estimated 30 days.

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak

This bird is also called cut-throat because the male looks like his throat has been cut and has bled over his breast.

Roseate Spoonbill

The only Spoonbill in the western hemisphere!

Rove Beetle

When threatened, rove beetles raise the ends of their body like scorpions, but they have no sting.

Ruddy Duck

Ruddy duck breeding males have bright blue bills!

Ruddy Turnstone

They flip over stones to find prey

Saber-Toothed Tiger

Canines up to 7 inches long!

Sable Ferret

Ferrets were used during the Revolutionary War to keep down the rat population.


Fast billfish with a sail-like dorsal fin


There are more than 700 different species!


Returns upstream every year to spawn

Sand Crab

The sand crab burrows beneath the sand with its tail

Sand Dollar

Sand Dollar skeletons make popular collection items for seashell collectors.


Some sandpipers can migrate more than 8,000 miles without stopping!


Sarcosuchus is a relative of present-day crocodiles.


Newly hatched sauropods weighted less than 11 pounds and put on 2 tons of weight a year!


Sauropods lived in herds.

Savanna Goat

Savanna goats have only existed since 1957.

Scale-Crested Pygmy Tyrant

They raise their crests to ward off predators

Scarab Beetle

The ancient Egyptians worshipped scarabs.

Scarlet Macaw

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


There are around 2,000 known species!

Scrotum Frog

The frog's ears are underdeveloped, and if it hears it probably does so through its lungs.

Sea Snake

The sea snake is incredibly venomous, even more than a cobra!”


Some gulls are capable of using tools


Males give birth to up to 1,000 offspring!

Sehuencas Water Frog

Thought extinct in the wild from 2009 to 2019

Senepol Cattle

Senepol cattle have a distinctive red color and no horns.

Sharp-Shinned Hawk

In captivity, sharp-shinned hawks can live up to 13 years. However, in the wild, this number is significantly reduced to 3 years!


Around 35 million in the English countryside!

Sheepshead Fish

This fish has teeth that resemble a human's.

Short-Eared Owl

The short-eared owl is one of the most widespread owl species in the world, covering five continents.


The spinal column of the shrew Scutisorex somereni is so strong and reinforced that it can support the weight of an adult human.


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.


Skuas will chase other birds until they give up their catch


Also known as the Polecat!


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


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

Smokybrown Cockroach

Has up to 45 eggs per egg case


There are nearly 1,000 different species!


There are around 4,000 known species worldwide

Snowflake Eel

Snowflake Eel have two jaws to help them swallow their food.

Soldier Beetle

Soldier beetles resemble fireflies, but they're not bioluminescent.

Southern House Spider

Large web making house spider


There are 140 different species!

Spectacled Bear

Native to the Andes mountains of South America!

Spider Beetle

Spider beetles have globular bodies, which makes them look like spiders.

Spider Monkey

Belongs to the only family of primates in the world with full prehensile tails!

Spider Wasp

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


The Spinosaurus is the biggest carnivorous dinosaur ever discovered!


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!


They can’t sing like other birds.


Stromatolites played a key role in the development of life on Earth.


The largest freshwater turtle known to have ever lived!

Summer Tanager

They remove bee stingers by rubbing them against a tree


These larvae are native to Central and South America but now occur on every continent except Antarctica

Swainson’s Hawk

Their wings form a “V” shape when flying.


swallows have aerodynamic bodies for hunting in flight


Populations have been affected by pollution!

Tailless Whip Scorpion

The average lifespan of these strange creatures is 5 to 10 years; however, tailless whip scorpions have been known to live up to a whopping 15 years in captivity!


These tiny yet intelligent monkeys often give birth to fraternal twins.


Most closely related to horses and rhinos!


More than 1000 species of tarantulas have been identified all around the world!

Tarantula Hawk

Tarantula hawks are excellent pollinators, especially for milkweed.

Teacup Miniature Horse

Female teacup minis become sexually mature between 2 and 5 years old, but breeders typically wait until their horse is 3 before letting her reproduce to prevent complications.

Teddy Guinea Pig

Teddy guinea pigs resemble teddy bears, hence their name.


Their mounds can be up to 9 meters tall!

Terror Bird

Though terror birds were flightless, their wings featured an unusual sharp claw which they could use as a weapon.


Native to the freshwater streams of South America!


Thanatosdrakon was one of the largest pterosaurs that lived in South America.


Some theropods had feathers and may have been ancestors of modern birds.


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


Thylacosmilus resembled saber-toothed cats, but they’re not related


They inject hosts with a chemical that stops them from feeling the pain of the bite

Tiger Beetle

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

Titan Beetle

Their jaws can bite through a wooden pencil.


Among the largest land animals to ever exist


Can live until they are more than 150 years old!


There are more than 40 different species!

Tree Cricket

They make music with their wings

Tree Frog

Found in warmer jungles and forests!


The colors, shapes, and intricacies of treehoppers’ helmets makes them unique and visually stunning.

Tufted Coquette

They are tame and easy to approach


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


Have a very short tail for their size!

Uaru Cichlid

The color of the Uaru cichlid changes during the spawning season


Migrates up and down the mountains!

Unau (Linnaeus’s Two-Toed Sloth)

Its top speed is 0.17mph

Upland Sandpiper

They make jerky movements as they walk through the grass, searching for food.

Urutu Snake

The female Urutu snake grows longer and heavier than males of the same species

Vampire Bat

Have a heat sensor on the end of their nose!


The veery is named for its sharp "veer" call.

Vermilion Flycatcher

They have a fast song that lasts up to 10 syllables at max.


Vicuñas have some of the softest wool in the entire animal kingdom

Vine Snake

A slender body and elongated snout give the vine snake a regal look.


Vinegaroons can spray 19 times before the glands are depleted


There are 30 different species worldwide!


Warblers are so called because of the trills of their song.


There are around 75,000 recognised species!

Water Beetle

Water beetles bite; they use their legs to inject venomous digestive saliva

Water Bug

Some species of water bugs can deliver a painful bite when handled.

Wattled Jacana

They are typically noisy birds but take on a soft tone with their young.

Welsh Springer Spaniel

Due to being so attached to their owners, the Welsh Springer Spaniel does not do well with being left alone and can experience separation anxiety.

Whiptail Lizard

Many whiptail species reproduce asexually.

White-Faced Capuchin

One of the world's most intelligent monkeys!

White Ferret / Albino Ferrets

There are two different types of white ferrets!

White-shouldered House Moth

The larva is the pest because a fully-grown white-shouldered house moth cannot feed; it can only absorb liquid

White-tail deer

White-tail deer are good swimmers

Whitetail Deer

Although deer are herbivores, they will sometimes eat mice and birds when they can catch them.

Willow Flycatcher

These birds live in the understory and are named for their propensity for flitting between willows and shrubs.


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


This animal can roll up into a ball

Woodlouse Spider

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


There are 200 different species!

Woolly Aphids

Another name for these fuzzy insects is "boogie-woogie aphids" because of their habit of lifting their posteriors and pulsing them in synchronized motions when threatened.

Woolly Monkey

Has a long, strong prehensile tail!


Doesn’t have eyes.

X-Ray Tetra

Yellow, black and white striped fins!


Xenotarsosaurus was one of the first fossils discovered in South America's Bajo Barreal formation.

Xingu River Ray

The Xingu River ray is only found in the Xingu River in Brazil.


Females are much larger than males

Yellow Anaconda

Anacondas take prey much bigger compared to body weight than other snakes.

Yellow Aphids

These aphids are primarily wingless; however, once the infestation on their host gets too crowded, they develop wings, allowing them to fly to a new host plant.

Yellow Bellied Sapsucker

The males are responsible for choosing the nesting tree most of the time. Luckily, cavity nests are often reused for multiple breeding seasons (up to 7 years.)

Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake

Sea snakes spend approximately 90% of their lives under water.

Yellow Crazy Ant

One of the top 100 worst invasive species!

Yellow Tanager (Black-and-Yellow Tanager)

They swallow soft fruit whole


They forage near the ground, searching leaves for insects

Zebra Pleco

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

South American Animals List

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About the Author

Abby Parks has authored a fiction novel, theatrical plays, short stories, poems, and song lyrics. She's recorded two albums of her original songs, and is a multi-instrumentalist. She has managed a website for folk music and written articles on singer-songwriters, folk bands, and other things music-oriented. She's also a radio DJ for a folk music show. As well as having been a pet parent to rabbits, birds, dogs, and cats, Abby loves seeking sightings of animals in the wild and has witnessed some more exotic ones such as Puffins in the Farne Islands, Southern Pudu on the island of Chiloe (Chile), Penguins in the wild, and countless wild animals in the Rocky Mountains (Big Horn Sheep, Mountain Goats, Moose, Elk, Marmots, Beavers).