Wildlife of South America
The Killer fish piranhas or pirañas are a group of carnivorous freshwater fish living in South American rivers. They belong to five genera of the subfamily of Serrasalminae (which also includes closely related herbivorous fish including pacus and silver dollars). They are normally about 15 to 25 cm long (6 to 10 inches) long, although reportedly individuals have been found up to 40 cm in length. They are known for their sharp teeth and an aggressive appetite for meat and flesh. They are normally only found in the Amazonian and Paraguayan river systems.Piranhas generally pose little threat to humans, and human attacks are extremely seldom. Natives frequently swim in piranha infested water without attacks or scratches. It is not recommended to swim where piranha live in drought season because of increased aggressiveness caused by food scarcity.
The Jaguar: The beautiful and elusive jaguar is the largest feline in the Americas. Adult males can reach an overall length of more than seven feet, and can weigh anywhere from 250 to 400 pounds. Jaguars are diurnal and will eat just about anything they are able to catch and kill by piercing the skull with powerful jaws. Once inhabiting an area ranging from the southern United States through Mexico and Central America all the way to Paraguay, the jaguar is no longer found in the US and inhabits only the area from southern Mexico to southern Brazil. Deforestation has fragmented the rainforest, isolating jaguar populations and making them more vulnerable to man.
Giant Anteaters: Inhabiting the savannas, swamps, and moist forests of Central and South America, giant anteaters are another example of perfect adaptation to rainforest environs. They are quit large, measuring up to six feet long, including the tail, and weighing about 55 pounds with a shape perfectly adapted to foraging for insects. They have an elongated skull and a long, tubular snout ending in a small, toothless mouth. Their tongue is 24 inches long, perfect for sticking down anthills or into termite nests to gather prey, after which they crush them against upper mouth. They have long, sharp claws, which they use to tear insect nests open. They protect these claws by walking on their knuckles. Their only enemies are large predators, such as jaguars and when they are attacked they rear up on their hind legs, striking out with their sharp claws and with surprising agility.
Baird's Tapir: Tapirs are found in the neotropics as well as southeast Asia. Their presence in the rainforest is vital to maintain biodiversity because, as herbivores, they spread the seeds of the plants they eat. Tapirs can measure up to six feet long and weigh 350 to 800 pounds. They are particularly vulnerable to deforestation and loss of habitat because of their feeding habits. They also have one of the longest gestation periods of any mammal at 13 months. Tapirs have few predators, and despite of their large size, they are strong and agile runners and will run into water when threatened. They are good swimmers and can also walk on the bottom of ponds and rivers.
Ocelots : Ocelots are small cats of yellow or gold with black spots and stripes. Although they look like margays, they are almost twice as big. Solitary, nocturnal predators, ocelots feed on deer, monkeys and other small animals. They mate any time of the year and, after the young are born, the male brings food to the female in the den.
Margays: Margays are the most accomplished climbers of all cats. Their ankle joints can turn 180 degrees and they have special claws that help them run down tree trunks as well as upside-down on the bottom side of a branch. Although similar in appearance to the ocelot, margays are much smaller.
Anaconda: The largest snake in the world Anaconda is living in rivers and dense forests of South America. Anacondas in the wild spend most of their time hanging out in rivers hunting for their food. They are solitary creatures that are somewhat shy and not many of them are easily seen. They are very well camouflaged in the swamps and bogs in which they thrive. There are some historical reports of early European explorers of the South American jungles seeing giant. Anacondas are members of the boa constrictor family of snakes. That means that they kill their prey by coiling their large, powerful bodies around their victims and squeezing until their prey suffocates or is crushed to death and dies from internal bleeding. Then the snake unhinges its jaw and swallows the victim whole. Although they are big and strong enough to eat people, they seldom do (but they have been known to). Anacondas are much more likely to eat aquatic creatures, such as fish. Occasionally they have been known to eat : caimans (a relative of the alligator), other snakes, deer, and even jaguars. Anacondas are rather slow-moving snakes, so they have to rely on stealth and the element of surprise to catch their unsuspecting prey. Jaguar, the most powerful animal of South America lives central and South America.
Of all the wild animals of the Americas, few are as amazing in aspect, actions, and vulnerability to one great human affliction as the armadillos.Armadillos are any of several small mammals of the family Dasypodidae, mostly known for having a bony armor shell. Their average size is about 75 centimeters (30 inches), including tail. All species are native to the American continents, where they inhabit a variety of environments.The nine-banded armadillo, which ranges from northern Argentina to the southern United States, and a few close armadillo cousins in South America are the only mammals known to bear identical quadruplets routinely.
The Llama (Lama glama) is a large camelid native to South America. The term llama is sometimes used more broadly, to indicate any of the four closely related animals that make up the South American branch of the family Camelidae: the llama itself, the vicuña, alpaca, and guanaco.
Differentiating characteristics between llamas and alpacas are that llamas are larger and have ovular heads instead of round ones. The main difference between llamas and camels is that camels have a hump or humps and llamas do not.You can see the llamas in peru and Chile.
The New World monkeys or Platyrrhines are the four families of primates that are found in Central and South America, the Cebidae, Aotidae, Pitheciidae and Atelidae. All families differ from the Old World monkeys and apes in having long, often prehensile tails.The name means "flat nosed", and this is how they are distinguished from Old World monkeys. Platyrrhine noses are flatter, with side facing nostrils, compared to the narrow noses and downward facing nostrils of Old World Monkeys. Many are small, arboreal and nocturnal, so our knowledge of them is less comprehensive than that of the more easily observed Old World monkeys. Unlike most Old World monkeys, many New World monkeys form monogamous pair bonds, and show substantial paternal care of young.