For a country which saw all of its seacoast become extinct in a 19th Century war, the South American nation of Bolivia is still recognized as one of the most environmentally diverse places on the planet. The major topographical feature of Bolivia are twin strands of the great Andes Mountains running north to south down the western side of the country. In between these two chains is the 12,000 foot high valley known as the Altiplano and Bolivia’s twin capital cities, Sucre and La Paz. On the eastern side of the mountain ranges, the terrain descends down into the drainage basin of the Amazon River where features typical of a tropical jungle prevail.
The Official National Animal of Bolivia
Not surprisingly, the Llama is the national animal of Bolivia. This distinctive South American draft animal has been used by humanity going clear back to the lost civilizations of the Inca and beyond. Incidentally, the double “L” at the front of the llama’s name is actually a letter of the Spanish alphabet and pronounced as “Y”. Thus we have “yama” and not “lama”.
In addition to the faithful llama, Bolivia also has a national bird species, which is the gigantic Andean Condor, the largest bird species on the planet. So other birds have a slightly larger wingspan than the 11 foot span of the condor, but the condor is a bigger, heavier bird overall.
Where To Find The Top Wild Animals in Bolivia
There is a lot to choose from when it comes to wildlife viewing in the country. Many people interested in tropical species find the combination reserve/rescue operation of the privately-owned Chuchini Ecological Reserve in the rainforest to be worth their time.
The massive 1.7 million acre Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve is located in the far southwest corner of the country. Filled with erupting volcanoes, vast geothermal attractions and enormous numbers of elegant pink flamingoes, it is one of the country’s most visited wildlife attractions.
For something specific, one might look to the San Miguelito Jaguar Reserve.
The Most Dangerous Animals In Bolivia
Perhaps the most dangerous of all Bolivian wildlife is the Piranha. While people think of this voracious and carnivorous fish as being Brazilian, it is actually Amazonian and the headwaters of the Amazon are up in the high peaks of the Andes.
The infamous Anaconda is also found in the Amazonian basin, along with a small species of crocodile known as the Caiman. Also resident in the lowland rainforest areas of the country is the mysterious Jaguar.
Up in the highlands, there are fewer real risks to humans. The big condor is not really a menace, the sole member of the bear family in South America, the Spectacled Bear is small and rather shy. As for the Maned Wolf, it is not really a wolf per se, but a related species that looks like a wolf but hunts in solitary and is much smaller.
Endangered Animals in Bolivia
Among the endangered animals of Bolivia, the most well-known is probably the Chinchilla, which has some of the softest fur in the world and is thus a target for poachers.
The Jaguar is always threatened with becoming extinct everywhere it still exists. The same goes for the Giant Brazilian Otter. Like virtually all other otters, it seems to be an endangered species throughout the world due to its riverbank habitat which puts it in close proximity to humans.
The Chacoan Guanaco is another animal at risk of becoming extinct due to destruction of its grassland habitat.
Their nests are sloppily held together and have an abandoned appearance
The agouti is one of the only animals that can crack open Brazil nut pods!
They can spit up to 10 feet.
These parrots can be trained to be "talking birds" that mimic human speech
Amazon tree boas come in a rainbow of colors.
They use their bright royal-looking crests during mating season
They are the heaviest snake in the world
Their name means snake bird
First evolved 100 million years ago!
Has the longest tongue of any animal in relation to its body size!
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
Has a curved, upturned beak!
The banjo catfish is extremely shy and known for hiding from onlookers.
There are over 1768 known species!
Found everywhere around the world!
Older offspring help care for new hatchlings.
Detects prey using echolocation!
There are 8 different species!
Bed bugs feed for 4-12 minutes.
Rock paintings of bees date back 15,000 years
There are more than 350,000 different species
Not all birds are able to fly!
The biscuit beetle form a symbiotic relationship with yeast
They typically prey on insects!
They are the only songbird in North America with an orange throat!
The blind snake is often mistaken for a worm.
They travel and forage in pairs or groups
This is a newly described species! In 2002, scientists realized they had a different species in Bolivia.
Seabirds found across the South Pacific!
Can live its entire life indoors
There are thought to be up 17,500 species!
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 lizards are among the largest lizards.
The camel crickets that are found in the USA are light brown in color. They also have dark streaks all over their body.
Excellent at both diving and swimming
Carpenter ants can lift up to seven times their own weight with their teeth!
Cascabels rely on their camouflage first, and rattle if that doesn't work.
First domesticated by the Ancient Egyptians!
The larvae of a moth or butterfly!
There are nearly 3,000 different species!
There are about 3,000 documented species!
First domesticated more than 10,000 years ago!
They can cling to the side of an aquarium.
Natively found in the Andes Mountain range!
There are more than 2 000 known species!
Dated to be around 300 million years old!
Pupae are able to undergo diapause to survive poor fruit yield years and winter.
Form bands of up to 12 individuals!
The common furniture beetle feeds exclusively on wood
House spiders have the ability to eat most insects in a home.
There are over 80 species of coral snake worldwide.
They can fly 35 mph and dive 150 feet below water.
There are nearly 1.5 billion worldwide!
There are 93 different crab groups
The crab-eating fox is extremely adaptable, living in all sorts of habitats and eating almost any available food.
Crab Spiders can mimic ants or bird droppings
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.
One of the only schooling Cichlids!
First domesticated in South-East Asia!
Dog ticks feed on dogs and other mammals
First domesticated 5,000 years ago!
It's larvae are carnivorous!
The most popular species of feeder roach
Rows of tiny plates line their teeth!
The dung beetle can push objects many times its own weight
Has exceptional eyesight!
They are hermaphrodites, which means they have male and female organs
There are nearly 2,000 different species!
Eels can be a mere few inches long to 13 feet!
Despite its powerful shock, electric eels have terrible vision.
Their teeth are as long as a fully-grown reticulated python
Has an elegant white moustache!
The fastest creatures on the planet!
There are several color morphs, including lavender!
False spiders actually prey on black widow spiders and other hazardous spiders
The Most Dangerous Snake in the Americas
The firefly produces some of the most efficient light in the world
Adult fleas can jump up to 7 inches in the air
There are more than 240,000 different species!
Can glide up to 90 meters!
There are around 7,000 different species!
Fruit flies are among the most common research animals in the world
They build a ramp from their nest, which leads to a nearby water source
There are thought to be over 2,000 species!
The most common type of urban roach
Found inhabiting dense woodland and caves!
Males form large mating swarms at dusk
There are 11,000 known species!
At night, they make a terrifying low call that sounds like a distressed moan or growl.
Females are often five times longer than males.
Natively found in the Andes Mountain range!
Also known as the Millionfish!
One of the most invasive species in the world
Able to run as quickly backwards as forwards!
Can reach speeds of over 50 mph!
Talon's the size of a grizzly bear's claws!
Their vision is eight times better than a human's
Many hawk moth caterpillars eat toxins from plants, but don’t sequester them the way milkweed butterflies do. Most toxins are excreted.
Parents and their young sing sweetly to each other
This dynastine scarab beetle makes a weird huffing sound when it’s disturbed.
Inhabits wetlands around the world!
There are only 8 recognized species!
Natively found in South America!
Has evolved over 50 million years!
Horseflies have been seen performing Immelmann turns, much like fighter jets.
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.
Thought to have orignated 200,000 years ago!
Beat their wings up to 80 times per second!
Some huntsman spiders have an interesting way of moving around. Some cartwheel while others do handsprings or backflips.
The Hyacinth Macaw is the largest flying parrot in the world!
Found in swamps, marshes and wetlands!
Uses visual signals to communicate!
The first IMG boa was born in a litter of anerythristic boas.
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
The largest feline on the American continent!
Some can jump 50 times the length of their bodies
Inhabits wetlands and woodlands worldwide!
The kinkajou is a nimble forest-dwelling mammal of Central and South America.
There are more than 5,000 species worldwide!
There are around 5,000 different species!
Natively found in the Andes Mountain range!
Each locust can eat its weight in plants each day.
Only females have the ‘lone star’ marking
The largest species of parrot in the world!
Will only live in wet areas
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!
There are 2,500 known species worldwide!
They have a symbiotic relationship with ants.
Megatherium probably used its lips more than its tongue when feeling for choice leaves in the treetops.
Some colonies have millions of bats
Some species have a poisonous bite!
Mockingbirds are incredible mimics that can learn hundreds of songs!
Primarily hunts and feeds on Earthworms!
Known for their calm and peaceful nature!
Has characteristics of two or more breeds!
There are around 260 known species!
Feeds on aquatic insects and water-spiders!
Collectors prize them for their bright wings
Only the female mosquito actually sucks blood
There are 250,000 different species!
Has no real natural predators!
Found on every continent on Earth!
The offspring of a horse and donkey parents!
Unlike most duck species, the Muscovy is silent and only makes noise when excited or threatened.
There are more than 5,000 species.
They can reach speeds of 25 Mph but prefer to soar low and slow.
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!
They inhabit the lowlands of the Amazon rainforest
Females are about four times the size of males
They use rapid wingbeats to hover over foliage as they search for food.
They reuse nesting sites for 70 years!
There are 13 different species worldwide
The owl can rotate its head some 270 degrees
Prefers to hunt at night than during the day!
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!
Parrotlets aren't the world's tiniest parrot — that would be the pygmy parrot of Australasia.
Peacock bass is known for their aggressive behavior and predatory instincts, making them a challenging target for sport fishermen.
The Peruvian guinea pig is well known for its long, soft tresses and edgy bangs.
Females lay between 8 and 12 eggs per clutch!
They can find their way back to their nests from up to 1300 miles away.
Generally found in fast-flowing streams!
Pit vipers's fangs fold up into their mouths when they don't need them.
Inhabits the jungles of Central and South America!
There are 30 different species worldwide!
The mantis can turn its head 180 degrees.
Has longer back legs than front legs!
Inhabits woodland and forest areas worldwide!
The tail feathers of the male can be 1m long!
Known to wash their food before eating it!
The rainbow boa is named for its iridescent skin that refracts light and creates a rainbow-colored effect.
Omnivores that eat anything!
Rat snakes are constrictors from the Colubridae family of snakes.
Rattlesnakes may have evolved their rattle to warn bison away from them.
Male and female Red-Footed Tortoises move their heads to communicate.
Red tailed boas don’t suffocate their prey, they squeeze until the heart stops circulating blood to the brain.
Male rheas mate with up to a dozen females and single-handedly raise up to 80 chicks at once!
Inhabits freshwater habitats around the world!
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!
The only Spoonbill in the western hemisphere!
Canines up to 7 inches long!
Ferrets were used during the Revolutionary War to keep down the rat population.
There are more than 700 different species!
They raise their crests to ward off predators
There are around 2,000 known species!
The frog's ears are underdeveloped, and if it hears it probably does so through its lungs.
Males give birth to up to 1,000 offspring!
Thought extinct in the wild from 2009 to 2019
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!
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!
Closely related to the Piranha
Some skinks lay eggs in some habitats while giving birth to skinklets in other habitats.
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
Has up to 45 eggs per egg case
There are nearly 1,000 different species!
There are around 4,000 known species worldwide
There are 140 different species!
Native to the Andes mountains of South America!
They prey on spiders to feed their larvae or they parasitize other spider wasps.
Small rodents found in woodlands worldwide!
There are more than 3,000 different species!
They can’t sing like other birds.
They remove bee stingers by rubbing them against a tree
Their wings form a “V” shape when flying.
Populations have been affected by pollution!
Most closely related to horses and rhinos!
Tarantula hawks are excellent pollinators, especially for milkweed.
Teddy guinea pigs resemble teddy bears, hence their name.
Their mounds can be up to 9 meters tall!
Native to the freshwater streams of South America!
The American robin is called the robin because its red breast reminded European settlers of the robin back in the old country.
They inject hosts with a chemical that stops them from feeling the pain of the bite
The adult tiger beetle is one of the fastest land insects in the world
Can live until they are more than 150 years old!
There are more than 40 different species!
They make music with their wings
Found in warmer jungles and forests!
Some species of aquatic turtles can get up to 70 percent of their oxygen through their butt.
Migrates up and down the mountains!
They make jerky movements as they walk through the grass, searching for food.
Have a heat sensor on the end of their nose!
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
Vinegaroons can spray 19 times before the glands are depleted
There are 30 different species worldwide!
There are around 75,000 recognised species!
They are typically noisy birds but take on a soft tone with their young.
Many whiptail species reproduce asexually.
There are two different types of white ferrets!
Although deer are herbivores, they will sometimes eat mice and birds when they can catch them.
Carnivorous arachnid that hunts its prey.
This animal can roll up into a ball
There are 200 different species!
Has a long, strong prehensile tail!
Yellow, black and white striped fins!
Anacondas take prey much bigger compared to body weight than other snakes.
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Animals in Bolivia FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Are there black panthers in Bolivia?
This is an interesting question. Zoologically speaking, there is no such thing as a black panther. There are, however, cat species which sometime produce all-black offspring. These include the Leopard and the Jaguar, both of which are known to produce the occasional black member of a litter. So, yes, there are “black panthers” found occasionally in Bolivia but they are actually jaguars.
Are there Pumas in Bolivia?
Bolivia is home to Pumas. Like all apex predators, they are only present in small numbers. A number of rescue organizations in Bolivia specialize in puma rescue for big cats that were taken as kittens and kept as pets until they became too large and dangerous to keep safely.
What plants and animals live in Bolivia?
Due to its biodiversity and terrain differentiation, that is a large question for a medium-sized country. In addition, South America is home to many unique creatures not found elsewhere in the world. Thus the fearsome piranha is found in the Amazon reaches of Bolivia. So too is the unique Amazon, or Pink, river dolphin.
The jungle and rainforest areas of the country abound with big cats and primates. The usual selection of tropical birds inhabit the lowland jungles while migratory species such as the Andean Flamingo are found in the lake regions of the highlands.
Large rodents are characteristic of South America. The endangered Chinchilla is one, as is the huge Capybara, the world’s largest rodent and capable of growing to as much as 140 lbs in weight. The rabbit-like Viscacha is a well-known denizen of Bolivia’s highlands.
The mighty Andean Condor prowls the skies while the ubiquitous cousins Alpaca, Llama, and Vicuna are found throughout Bolivia.
As for plant life, the most unique and well-known entry in the plant kingdom is the coca plant, of which Bolivia is considered to be the third-largest producer of this leaf used to manufacture cocaine with. Beyond that, Bolivia is home to a wide but not especially remarkable assortment of plant species, most of which can be found elsewhere in the world in one variant or another.
Do alligators live in Bolivia?
Differentiation is scientifically made between alligators and crocodiles. There is one species of small alligator, the Caiman, present in Bolivia. This would qualify as a member of the Alligatoridae family, but all alligators are members of the order Crocodylia. They can thus very broadly be considered to be crocodiles as well, but this appellation is not commonly applied to any of the alligators, including the caiman.