10 Most Common Animals that Live in the Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon rainforest, also known as Amazonia, is a massive and vibrant ecosystem that spans over 2.7 million square miles. It is the world’s largest rainforest and river system, home to over 10% of known wildlife species. Discovering a diverse range of animals that thrives in this unique environment is fascinating.

Check out the top ten most commonly observed animals living in the Amazon Rainforest.


Jaguar The jaguar in the Amazon Rainforest is an essential predator that helps maintain a balanced ecosystem by controlling the populations of other species. They have powerful jaws and teeth capable of biting through turtle shells or crocodile skulls, but they typically prey on wild animals like deer, monkeys, armadillos, and lizards.

Jaguars typically have a large round head, short legs, and a yellowish-brown coat with dark rosettes and spots that give them a striking appearance. Because of their proficient swimming abilities, these creatures usually inhabit near water bodies. Unfortunately, despite various conservation measures, the jaguar population is declining, putting them under severe pressure.

9Giant River Otter

Giant River Otter The Giant River Otter, also known as the river wolf, is the largest otter in the world, measuring up to 6 feet in length. Equipped with webbed feet and a streamlined body, it can thrive on land and in freshwater habitats. These otters are skilled hunters with whiskers that enable them to sense vibrations in the water.

Their dense, chocolate-colored fur provides excellent insulation against water. When two otters encounter each other, they recognize each other through “periscoping,” raising their throats and chests above the water. As adept swimmers and predators, they play a vital role in maintaining the ecosystem balance.

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8Black Caiman

Black Caiman
Black caiman at the Moscow Zoo

The Black Caiman, part of the Alligatoridae family, is the largest of its kind. It grows up to 17 feet long and weighs around 800 lbs. Being the largest predator in the Amazon River basin, it can hunt any animal within its territory, including other predators. Thus, they act as vital species in maintaining the structure of the Amazon ecosystem.

Its black skin helps it to survive by absorbing more heat. These creatures are very aggressive and territorial, particularly when they have a nest and eggs nearby. Although they are on the “Conservation Dependent” list, almost 99% of black caimans have been killed for their commercially valuable scales.


Sloth Sloths are tree-dwellers who typically move through the canopy, munching on twigs, leaves, and buds. They can cover about 40 yards per day. They show a low metabolic rate. They are also good swimmers. Sloths take almost a minute to climb a tree that is 2 meters high. They usually avoid landing on the ground because their long arms and claws make navigating difficult.

Their long arms allow them to move through tree branches and hang upside down for several days. However, they occasionally drop from the treetop into the water to swim. Sloths usually exhibit their lazy nature by sleeping for around 15 to 18 hours a day.


Tapir Amazon Tapirs, also known as Brazilian tapirs, are one of the largest mammals weighing between 350 to 600 pounds. They have thick necks, stumpy tails, and large ears, which give them an unusual appearance. Their most distinctive feature is their short trunk which helps them lift food into their mouths.

When baby tapirs age, their spotted and striped coats transform into dark brown. Tapirs have special adaptations on their feet to navigate through soft, muddy ground. They have a sharp sense of smell and hearing, which helps them evade predators. Additionally, they are excellent swimmers and can walk on pond bottoms.

5Scarlet Macaw

Scarlet Macaw The Scarlet Macaw is a fascinating and incredibly colorful bird known as the world’s largest parrot. They have a bright red color covering almost their entire body, with blue and yellow feathers on their lower wings. These parrots exhibit complex social behaviors and prefer living in large, noisy groups, spending most of their time in tall deciduous trees found in the Amazon Rainforests.

Their beak is strong enough to break hard nuts found in the rainforest. Their diet consists of nuts, leaves, berries, and seeds. They can even eat fruits that are toxic to other animals. Since they consume large amounts of clay, it helps neutralize the plant poisons.

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Capybara These largest rodents usually have a heavy, barrel-shaped body that weighs over 100 pounds. They often sit on their squat legs, which are shorter in the front than the back. Their coarse brown fur is sparse enough to reveal their relatively grey skin. Capybaras have partially webbed feet, which assist them in moving through water or swampy areas.

Like hippos, a capybara’s eyes, ears, and nose are at the top of its head, allowing it to peek above the surface for air and check for predators while hiding its body underwater. Since they are social creatures, they prefer to live in large family groups of around 10-20 members.

3Squirrel Monkey

Squirrel Monkey The Squirrel Monkey is a small primate commonly found in the canopy layer of Amazon rainforests. Unlike other small primates, their tail is not prehensile, but they rely on it for balance while climbing on high branches. They are very social animals and communicate with each other through noisy calls.

Typically living in groups of around 40 to 50 individuals, their diet mainly consists of fruits and insects, and their hands and fingers have adaptations for holding onto food while peeling or eating. Squirrel monkeys have excellent eyesight and color vision, which allow them to spot fruits easily amidst dense vegetation.

2Toco Toucan

Toco Toucan The toco toucan is a well-known bird species that inhabit the Amazon Rainforests. It is the largest toucan species, and its most notable feature is its long, yellowish-orange, and lightweight bill. The tip of the bill has a large dark spot on both sides, and the bird’s eyes have a beautiful deep blue with a purple shade.

As omnivores, tocos can eat small fruits like oranges and catch small lizards, insects, and eggs. Toucans are sociable and love traveling in flocks of up to 12 individuals, often gathering in large groups and chattering noisily. They use fast upward swings of their beaks in synchronizing the calls.

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1Amazon River Dolphin

Amazon River Dolphin The Amazon River Dolphin, also known as the boto or pink river dolphin, lives exclusively in freshwater. Their estimated population throughout the Amazon River basins is tens of thousands. These dolphins are born gray but gradually turn pink as they age. They are recognizable by their unique smile, bulbous forehead, and long, skinny beak.

In addition, they have large brains with 40 percent more brain capacity than humans. Despite their shyness, they have been known to play curiously with local children without showing any signs of aggression. They communicate using high-frequency sonar clicks to create a three-dimensional echogram of their dark riverine environment.