The Amazon: Explore the Exotic Wildlife

Take a trek through the Amazon jungle to see some of the most exotic creatures in the world, including the brown-throated sloth, piranha, howler monkey, toucan and jaguar.

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Thinkstock

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Thinkstock

Photo By: Thinkstock

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: sdbeazley, Flickr

Photo By: Thinkstock

Photo By: Thinkstock

Photo By: Thinkstock

Photo By: Thinkstock

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Thinkstock

Brown-Throated Sloth

Found in the Amazon rainforest, the brown-throated sloth is the most common of the 4 species of the 3-toed sloth. Its guard hairs are very coarse and stiff, and they have no gall bladder or appendix. Although they can swim and walk along the ground, sloths spend most of their lives high in the tree tops, eating leaves.

Macaw

Tourists will find this colorful-feathered friend in the Amazon. Macaws are the largest tropical parrots, reaching up to 3 feet from head to tail. The blue and yellow macaw -- also called the blue and gold macaw -- is one of seven species of macaws that live in the Amazon. And you won’t have to go far to spot these birds -- they generally hang around popular food sources, including hotels and lodges.

Piranha

Contrary to popular belief, most piranhas eat fallen fruit. No, it’s not as thrilling as stripping the meat off the bone. Rest easy -- no confirmed fatalities have occurred from a mass attack. Some tour companies offer fishing expeditions, providing tourists with the opportunity to fish for piranhas with just a stick, a hook and a piece of meat.

White-Knee Tarantula

The White-knee tarantula is a species of tarantula native to forests in Brazil. It’s a medium-sized, but fast-growing spider that’s usually very hungry. This creepy creature’s bite is actually worse than its venomous bite, often leaving extensive puncture wounds. Usually this spider’s first line of defense is its urticating hairs that can be quite irritating to human skin.

Squirrel Monkey

Squirrel monkeys -- the most abundant monkey in the Amazon Rainforest -- stick together in groups of around 20 to 100.Their diet consists of fruits, insects and sometimes flower nectar. Mothers give birth to their young during the rainy season, and they take exclusive care for the young. Their connection is heartwarming.

Toucan

About 40 species of toucan live in the Amazon. They have bright-colored plumage and bills. Toucans usually nest in tree holes or holes already created by woodpeckers. Although more often heard than seen, toucans are usually seen only in near a tree’s crown or canopy. So it is probably unlikely that birdwatchers will ever be able to catch a glimpse of these colorful characters.

Eyelash Viper

Eyelash vipers are arguably one of the world’s most beautiful, but most dangerous snakes. They have distinctive modified scales over their eyes to give them the appearance of having eyelashes. This type of pit viper is largely nocturnal, consuming small rodents, frogs, lizards and birds. It’s not an aggressive snake, but they do strike if harassed.

Poison Dart Frog

Poison dart frogs acquired their name because Amerindians -- indigenous, pre-Columbian people of North and South America -- used the frog’s toxic secretions to poison the tips of blowdarts. Dart frogs usually grow up to 6-centimeters long. Their brightly-colored, patterned skin is a warning to potential predators -- making a meal out of this toxic frog could be hazardous to their health.

Capuchin Monkey

Capuchin monkeys are intelligent and clever, using stones to crack open nuts, shellfish and crabs. The tree-dwelling monkeys were named by explorers after their resemblance to an order of Catholic friars, the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin.

Black Caiman

The black caiman is the largest predator in the Amazon basin. Its skin color keeps the meat-eating reptile camouflaged while hunting at night. An adult male caiman can grow to be 16-feet long and weigh more than 800 pounds. It only has a few natural predators, but a large anaconda has been known to take on a young caiman.

Puma

Pumas are powerful predators that stalk and ambush their prey. They are small cats usually 22 to 30 inches long and range between 10 and 20 pounds. Fish, frogs, reptiles, birds, rodents and small mammals are potential food choices for a male puma if they are within 45- to 56-mile radius territory. Bon appetite!

Howler Monkey

Take a look above when you’re in the Amazon’s thick jungle. That’s where you’ll find howler monkeys, jumping from tree tops. These agile creatures can grasp a branch with at least 2 hands and or 1 hand and their tail at all times. Their tail is so strong that it can support their entire body weight.

Jaguar

Meet the ultimate Amazon predator. The jaguar is at the top of the food chain. Revered by local tribes, this feline beast hunts close to the water for large animals, including deer, capybara and peccary.

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