Animals in South-America

Below you can find a complete list of South American animals. We currently track 321 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.

Amazon Parrot

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

Anaconda

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.

Ant

First evolved 100 million years ago!

Anteater

Found throughout the Southern Hemisphere!

Arapaima

One of the largest freshwater fish

Arctotherium

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

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

Aruba Rattlesnake

This rattlesnake only lives on the island of Aruba.

Avocet

Has a curved, upturned beak!

Banjo Catfish

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

Barb

There are over 1768 known species!

Barn Owl

Found everywhere around the world!

Barn Swallow

Older offspring help care for new hatchlings.

Basilisk Lizard

Can run/walk on water.

Bat

Detects prey using echolocation!

Bear

There are 8 different species!

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs feed for 4-12 minutes.

Bee

Rock paintings of bees date back 15,000 years

Beetle

There are more than 350,000 different species

Bird

Not all birds are able to fly!

Biscuit Beetle

The biscuit beetle form a symbiotic relationship with yeast

Black Widow Spider

They typically prey on insects!

Blind Snake

The blind snake is often mistaken for a worm.

Blue Eyed Pleco

Can live safely with many types of fish.

Bobolink

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.

Booby

Seabirds found across the South Pacific!

Brazilian Terrier

Small body and tri-coloured coat!

Brown Dog Tick

Can live its entire life indoors

Burrowing Owl

The burrowing owl lives in underground burrows

Butterfly

There are thought to be up 20,000 species!

Cactus Moth

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

Caecilian

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

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!

Cascabel

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

Cat

First domesticated by the Ancient Egyptians!

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!

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!

Coachwhip Snake

Coachwhip snakes pose little danger to people

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 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.

Coral Snake

There are over 80 species of coral snake worldwide.

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

Cricket

Male crickets can produce sounds by rubbing their wings together

Crocodile

Have changed little in 200 million years!

Crow

A group of these birds is called a Murder.

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!

Dog Tick

Dog ticks feed on dogs and other mammals

Dogo Argentino

Loyal and affectionate to their family!

Donkey

First domesticated 5,000 years ago!

Dragonfly

It's larvae are carnivorous!

Dubia Cockroach

The most popular species of feeder roach

Duck

Rows of tiny plates line their teeth!

Dung Beetle

The dung beetle can push objects many times its own weight

Dwarf Boa

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

Eagle

Has exceptional eyesight!

Earthworm

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

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.

Elegant Tern

Have a lifespan of 20 years or more

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 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

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.

Firefly

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

Flamingo

Sleeps on just one leg!

Flea

Adult fleas can jump up to 7 inches in the air

Fly

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

Frog

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

Gecko

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.

Glow Worm

Found inhabiting dense woodland and caves!

Gnat

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!

Goshawk

The goshawk is a popular choice among European falconers

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

Great Crested Flycatcher

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

Green Anaconda

Females are often five times longer than males.

Grouper

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

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!

Harris Hawk

Their vision is eight times better than a human's

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.

Hercules Beetle

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

Heron

Inhabits wetlands around the world!

Hognose snake

Prima Donnas of the Snake 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 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.

Housefly

The fly has no teeth

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.

Insect

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

Insects

There are an estimated 30 million species!

Jacana

The jacana has the ability to swim underwater

Jaguar

The largest feline on the American continent!

Jaguarundi Cat

These cats are expert swimmers.

Jumping Spider

Some can jump 50 times the length of their bodies

Keel-Billed Toucan

It's beak can reach nearly 20 cm long!

Kestrel

Can hang suspended on wind currents

Killdeer

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

Kinder Goat

Best jumper of all goats

King Vulture

The king vulture is the second largest New World vulture species

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!

Leech

Has 10 pairs of eyes!

Leopard Frog

They can jump up to three feet

Lizard

There are around 5,000 different species!

Lizardfish

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

Llama

Natively found in the Andes Mountain range!

Locust

Each locust can eat its weight in plants each day.

Lone Star Tick

Only females have the ‘lone star’ marking

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!

Maggot

Will only live in wet areas

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 Eagle (Northern crested caracara)

The northern crested caracara mates for life with its partner

Mexican Free-Tailed Bat

Some colonies have millions of bats

Millipede

Some species have a poisonous bite!

Mojarra

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

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!

Mosquito

Only the female mosquito actually sucks blood

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!

Needlefish

no stomach to digest food

Night Heron

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

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

Oscar Fish

The Oscar fish has teeth in its throat!

Otter

There are 13 different species worldwide

Owl

The owl can rotate its head some 270 degrees

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!

Parrot Snake

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

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

Pipe Snake

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

Piranha

Generally found in fast-flowing streams!

Platinum Arowana

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

Poison Dart Frog

Inhabits the jungles of Central and South America!

Polka Dot Stingray

Can detect electrical fields from other creatures

Porcupine

There are 30 different species worldwide!

Potoo

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

Praying Mantis

The mantis can turn its head 180 degrees.

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!

Rainbow Boa

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

Rat

Omnivores that eat anything!

Rat Snakes

Rat snakes are constrictors from the Colubridae family of snakes.

Rattlesnake

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

Red-Eyed Tree Frog

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

Red-handed Tamarin

Red hair on hands on feet!

Red-Lipped Batfish

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

Redtail Catfish

One of three giant catfish species

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.

Rooster

Will mate with the entire flock!

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Rose-breasted grosbeaks are closely related to cardinals

Roseate Spoonbill

The only Spoonbill in the western hemisphere!

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.

Salamander

There are more than 700 different species!

Salmon

Returns upstream every year to spawn

Sand Crab

The sand crab burrows beneath the sand with its tail

Sauropoda

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

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!

Scrotum Frog

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

Seagull

Some gulls are capable of using tools

Seahorse

Males give birth to up to 1,000 offspring!

Sheep

Around 35 million in the English countryside!

Shrew

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

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

Smokybrown Cockroach

Has up to 45 eggs per egg case

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!

Stork

They can’t sing like other birds.

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.

Tick

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

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!

Unau (Linnaeus’s Two-Toed Sloth)

Its top speed is 0.17mph

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!

Vicuña

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.

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!

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-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!

Worm

Doesn’t have eyes.

X-Ray Tetra

Yellow, black and white striped fins!

Yarara

Females are much larger than males

Yellow Anaconda

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

Yellow-Bellied Sea Snake

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

Zebra Pleco

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

South American Animals List