The great diversity of Peru’s wildlife has much to do with the fact that it contains some of the Amazon rainforest and the Andes Mountains and has a coast on the Pacific Ocean. There are 1800 species of birds, 120 of which are only found in Peru, 500 types of mammals, 300 types of reptiles as well as many species of insects, cetaceans, crustaceans, fish, and seals. Unique species of animal are discovered in Peru on a regular basis, amazing when considering how many animals around the world are going extinct.
The Official National Animal of Peru
The national animal of Peru is the vicuña. Related to the llama, this animal is prized for the quality of its wool, and in ancient times only royalty was allowed to wear clothes made of vicuña wool. It is probably for this reason that this animal is on the Peruvian coat of arms. The wool is not only great for warmth but also extremely soft to the touch.
The vicuña is an herbivore, and much of its diet is made up of the grasses found in its habitat, which are the plains and semi-arid grasslands found in Peru. To help obtain as much nutrition from their food they chew their cud. They have adapted the trait to continue growing their bottom teeth throughout their life, which causes these teeth to remain sharp and help process the dry grass.
It is the smallest camelid and stands less than five feet tall on average and weighs between 88 and 132 pounds. They can be found living in herds comprising adult females, their young, and one male. This one dominant male will defend the herd from predators and also any male challengers that come into the territory.
Where To Find The Top Wild Animals in Peru
Peru offers many places to find its top wild animals. They include the Ballestas Islands, which are the home of sea lions. Popular Huascarán National Park is one area to see herds vicuña as well as condors and the north Andean deer. The park also has Peru’s highest point, the majestic and snow-capped Mount Huascarán.
In addition to the Andes Mountains, Peru also has one of the world’s deepest canyons in Colca Canyon. This popular tourist site is also home to vicu˜ñas, flamingos, hummingbirds, the Andean condor, and the Andes skunk. Manú National Park has clouds and rainforests as well as grassland. At 4,241,057.9 acres, it is a World Heritage Site and is home to the Andean cock-of-the-rock, which is Peru’s national bird, jaguarundi, deer, sloth, squirrel monkeys, spectacled bears, roseate spoonbills, and ocelots.
Like other South American countries, Peru is home to many dangerous animals. The challenging types of terrain hold ecosystems that produce danger at every corner, from deadly plants to deadly animals.
The most obvious terrain that poses many threats within the borders of Peru is the local rainforests, where exotic plants and animals thrive due to the wet climate and closeness to the equator. Some of the most deadly hunters live within the rainforest and are able to blend into their surroundings with near-perfect stealth.
Besides the treacherous rainforests, Peru also contains parts of the Andes Mountains. Together, these two terrains cover over half of the country’s landscape. The Peruvian Andes have almost forty mountain peaks that reach 6,000 meters high. These peaks and mountains provide a lot of space for animals like mountain lions to roam.
The most dangerous animals in Peru include:
Puma. This is the South American version of the cougar. It is territorial and an ambush predator. Though it’s rare, the puma has been known to kill humans. These attacks are becoming more frequent as humans start to encroach on the animal’s habitat. Most people killed by pumas are children.
Jaguar. Like the puma, it is unusual for a jaguar to attack and kill a human being, but it has happened. It is a big and muscular animal with a bite so powerful its teeth can pierce the shells of tortoises and the skulls of human beings.
Great White Shark. This shark is responsible for most human deaths by a shark. Humans are not the shark’s usual prey, and a bite may be investigatory. However, a grown Great White is so huge that even an investigatory bite can be fatal.
Venomous Snakes. Of the hundreds of snakes in Peru, about 33 are venomous. One of the most dangerous is the fer-de-lance, or Bothrops asper. It is a pit viper and is especially dangerous because it lives close to humans and is nervous and unpredictable. It has a habit of seeming to flee then doubling back and attacking. In 2019, another venomous snake was discovered in Bahuaja Sonene National Park and named Bothrops sonene.
Endangered Animals In Peru
Though Peru is famous for protecting its unique wildlife, some animals are still threatened with going extinct. There are several factors that contribute to the lessening of some of the world’s most unique and exotic animals, including deforestation, climate change, and human activity.
Amazonian manatee. This is the smallest of the three types of manatee that have not gone extinct and is vulnerable.
Peruvian night monkey. This little monkey is little studied but considered endangered.
Marine otter. The marine otter, unique because it lives almost exclusively in salt water, is endangered.
The Rarest Animal of Peru
While Peru has many threatened animals, the country’s rarest animal must be the Andean Condor. This bird can be found in the Peruvian Andes mountains. This particular condor is the largest bird that is not flightless when you factor in weight and total wingspan.
The Largest Predators of Peru
It may come as no surprise, but the largest predators of Peru are the elusive jaguars. They are extremely shy and make their way home in the densest of the Peruvian rainforests and jungles. Weighing up to 300 lbs. and with a bite that can pierce a human skull, this is one cat that you do not want to run into in the wild!
The Flag of Peru
The flag of Peru was adopted in it’s current design in 1950 and is comprised of three vertical bands of red and white with the red bookending the central white band. The flag is a symbol of peace, freedom, and social justice. However, the red bands also represent the blood of its patriots who defended their country against overwhelming adversity in several wars.
Fish Found in Peru
Due to its privileged geographical position by the Amazon River and Amazon Rainforest, Peru has a rich marine biodiversity. In Peru, you’ll find fish in every shape, size, and color from the beautiful Cortez rainbow wrasse to the interesting-looking Payara.
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.
Heather Ross is a secondary English teacher and mother of 2 humans, 2 tuxedo cats, and a golden doodle. In between taking the kids to soccer practice and grading papers, she enjoys reading and writing about all the animals!
Animals in Peru FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
What kinds of animals live in Peru?
There is an amazing variety of animals that live in Peru and more are being discovered. Recently discovered animals include two kinds of beetles, a type of spiny rat, a new kind of mouse, a type of flycatcher and a pygmy frog. This frog, Noble’s pygmy frog, is unique because it lays only two eggs and these eggs hatch into tiny frogs instead of tadpoles.
What is a common animal in Peru?
A common animal found in Peru is the capuchin monkey. It is a monkey that grows between 12 and 22 inches long, save its tail, and its tail is often as long as its body. It can weigh between 3 and 9 pounds and can live 25 years in the wild. The capuchin monkey lives in both the rainforest and the dry forests on the coast, and its success is probably due to the fact that it’s not particular about its habitat or its diet. It’s an omnivore and eats plant material as well as animals from spiders to lizards to birds all the way up to other primates.
What is the most dangerous animal in Peru?
The most dangerous animal in Peru is probably the fer-de-lance because of its aggressiveness, its proximity to human habitation, and the potency of its venom.
Is there Puma in Peru?
The puma is found in Peru. It’s the second-largest big cat in Peru behind the jaguar.