You’ve probably heard of the incredible biodiversity of the Amazon rainforest. In fact, it’s one of the most biodiverse regions on planet Earth, both in terms of animal life and plant life. But do you know which mammals to watch out for while visiting Amazonia? If not, no worries! Check out this fun guide to the rainforest for children featuring the Amazon’s most fascinating and breathtaking mammals.
Some of these animals prove surprisingly commonplace, such as capybaras and Amazon river dolphins, while others remain elusive such as jaguarundis and ocelots. But all of them contribute to the unique ecosystems of the Amazon rainforest.
When it comes to adorable Amazon mammals, the capybara tops our list. The largest rodent in the world, it measures four feet in length and can weigh as much as a medium-sized human. One hundred and forty pounds to be exact!
The name “capybara” means “grass-eater” and comes from the Tupi language which predominates along the coast of Brazil. And, boy, does this nickname prove accurate. An individual capybara can consume upwards of eight pounds of grass each day!
Capybaras love living in swampy areas as well as near rivers and lakes, and they prove very sociable creatures. Living in groups of 10 to 30, they come together during the dry season for protection. So, depending on when you visit the Amazon and where you travel, you might see groups of 100 or more individuals together at one time.
Amazon River Dolphins
If you and your kids snuggled up on the couch to watch Magical Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016), then you understand the allure of mythical creatures. But did you know that in the Amazon, you can actually see fantastic beasts firsthand?
That’s right! According to some Amazon tribes, the Amazon river dolphin is a magical creature. As a result, these vibrant porpoises were spared from tribal hunting over the centuries. While they face new threats posed by fishermen’s nets and boats, they continue to flourish in their namesake river basin, offering spectacular sightings and breathtaking interactions with visitors to the Amazon rainforest.
Giant River Otters
Besides Amazon river dolphins, you’ll find giant river otters navigating the massive Amazon river and its tributaries. And since these creatures can grow upwards of five feet plus three feet of tail-length, they’ve definitely earned the name “giant.”
Giant river otters have webbed feet and hands, which make them perfectly adjusted to life swimming in the waters and currents of the Amazon. These delightful creatures love noshing on fish and small prey. Their curiosity and mischievous behavior remain unmatched making them an unforgettable sight.
Did you know that giant armadillos can grow to upwards of 120 pounds? Or that like giant river otters, they can measure five feet long? Known for neither their grace nor their agility, armadillos are truly strange-looking creatures. And spotting them proves challenging because they stay most active at night.
The armadillo comes ready for defense. Its outward protective shell is matched by its claws and teeth. In fact, giant armadillos boast on average 74 teeth, which proves record breaking. There’s no other mammal on the planet with as many teeth!
One of the most emblematic animals of the rainforest, the jaguar also represents one of its most elusive creatures. Their tan or orange coats dappled with black spots prove instantly recognizable. Although they resemble leopards, their bodies prove more muscular. As top-predators of the Amazon’s ecosystems, their hunting practices have an impact on vegetation patterns through their consumption of plant-eating animals.
Jaguars once roamed vast swathes of land reaching from South America north through Central America and up to the present-day US-Mexico border. Today, they are found primarily in the rainforests of South America and remote locations in Central and South America. Although avid climbers and swimmers, jaguars spend most of their time on the ground hunting a large variety of animals from capybaras to deer and tapirs.
The Rainforest for Children
When it comes to the rainforest for children, there’s no end to the incredible animal parade. From splashy Amazon river dolphins to the elusive ocelot, the rainforest teems with an incredible diversity of mammals.
Ready to scope out some of these animals for yourself? Then why not come along on one of our 8-day Brazilian Amazon Cruises? These cruises represent an immersive, authentic way to visit some of the most extraordinary destinations in Brazil with kids.
At Our Whole Village, we craft transformational trips for curious families who want to create lasting memories while making a difference. We’re here to help you and your family experience the world, its peoples, and its cultures. Contact us today to learn more about the unforgettable experiences that we handcraft for curious families just like yours.