South american animals – diet, habitat, facts and lifespan with images

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Updated: January 25, 2017

When many people think about South American animals, the first thing they think of is images of beautiful birds, big snakes, and may be llamas. South America is certainly a place in which these kinds of animals live in; but then there are many other interesting animal species found on this vast continent. In this article you will get to know a lot about some of the popular animals that live in this continent in addition to some you may not have even known.

South America is such a large continent that has a wide range of climatic conditions and terrains. You can see everything from the cold snow covered Andes Mountains on one extreme to the very dry La Guajira Desert found in Colombian landmass as one half of the other extreme. The South American climate has a big influence on the many types of species we can find in this region.

Subsequently, in this article, we have listed some basic facts about South American species, while treating some in more detail than the others.


Some South American Animals

What South American animals may have in common is the climate which is mostly tropical, though the cold mountain climate exists there too. However, there are too many animals in South America, and this comes with various characteristics.

Let’s start with:

As against what most people think, not all armadillos can wrap themselves in their shells. They live in temperate and hot climates, including rain forests, and desert environment. Consider more facts about them:

Due to their low metabolism and lack of fat, cold is their natural enemy.

Usually, they dig burrows and sleep for several hours daily, foraging in the early hours of the morning and evening for ants, beetles and some termites, and a few other insects.

They notoriously have a very poor eyesight, and use their great sense of smell to catch their preys off-guard.

They also love to consume bugs, and some smaller animals and sometimes vegetables.

When an animal bears such a name as slot, you would know that it is lazy. And since South America has a comfortable climate, it is only natural for a lazy animal to live there. From a video I once saw on Beastly Countdown, sloths were about fifth to sixth laziest animals in the world. So lazy are sloths that even when they die, their bodies remain stuck on the branch they sat on. But let’s see more of these interesting facts about sloths in the following bullet points:

Sloths have one of the slowest metabolism known in the animal kingdom. Reports show that sloths can take up to one week to digest ingested meals.

So lazy are these animals to hunt for food that they can settle for their own droppings. Yes, sloths eat their own poo when they are too lazy to search for food.

Newly born sloths are mostly responsible for their birth as they practically crawl from their mothers’ reproductive openings to the pouch.

Sloths have pouches. A pouch is a cuplike groove in the body of some animals which they use to carry their young ones.

From what we make out of archeological excavations, there was a time that sloths were as big as cattle but that was thousands of years ago.

They are almost like koalas but a little bit different. While koalas eat only of the eucalyptus tree, sloths eat from the Cecropia plant in addition to lower reptiles, insects and more.

Sloths possess four chambers in their stomachs, just about as it is in ruminants. But so slow that these chambers of digesting ingested food could take several days and sometimes up to one month to complete a cycle of digestion.

Talking about its laziness, this animal is so slow and sickly that it can spend as much as 1 minute to walk some 3 feet.

Due to its little activity as well as warm fur coating, many lower animals such as roaches, butterflies and ants live on it. Many times, one finds fungal and algal growth on it too.

But what they lack in speed they have in skill. They are known to be able to stretch out their tongues to distances of about 11 inches to capture an unsuspecting prey.

Here are some interesting facts for anacondas.

They are ovoviviparous. This is to say that their offsprings emerge from within their eggs just before emerging from their mothers’ bodies.

An adult anaconda can eject over 28 babies per litter.

The green anaconda, hold the record for the world’s  most massive snake but Asia’s longer reticulated python, officially  is the longest.

A mature flamingo is just four to five feet tall, yet only weigh between four and eight pounds. Let’s quickly look at some of its facts.

Flamingos usually congregate in swamps or lagoons as they look for shallow saltwater prey.

They feed by stirring muddy waters with their feet. Thereafter, they scoop mud and water as they filter out edible organisms.

The American flamingo is America’s only native flamingo species however, it is difficult to see this specie in the USA anymore.

Their characteristic pink color comes from beta-carotene contained in the food they eat.

They flock in groups of hundreds and usually they perform their mating rituals together. But then, many species and even various flocks add different touches to their communal rituals.

Both male and female of each mating pair build a nest, then sit on it together while it incubates for like one month.

Heads up! Many flamingos think it is better to steal a nest that’s already built, and that’s why mating pairs usually guard a nest from both fellow flamingos and predators.


Enchanting South American Animals Pictures

South American Animals









They look like lizards, but are very different. Consider some quick facts about them.

Generally, most iguanas are herbivores that only eat vegetation like flower buds, shoots and young leaves. But then, a marine iguana will get its meal just by scraping some algae from rocks deep in the ocean or by eating sea weed, according to reports by National Geographic. As for pet iguanas and many wild iguanas, they enjoy worms, crickets and baby mice in addition to vegetation.

They are egregious but male iguanas are usually territorial, though, and usually fight other trespassing male iguanas. usually, it is very easy to identify male iguanas when they are not dominant.

As they do not need to actively hunt for their food, they spend their days relaxing.

Iguanas usually spend their time resting in the sun just to keep warm and regularly get up for some snack.

They lay eggs even though the number varies from specie to specie.


This animal is more like the Lion of South America. Read on to find out why.

They are the largest cats found in the Americas.

Jaguars look intimidating as they have compact bodies, broad heads and strong jaws.

Most times, their coats are yellow or tan, though the color can vary due to weather.

They are folk heroes since they are a central point of many tales, songs and incantations of many indigenous people.

Boa Constrictor
The boa constrictor is one of the most impressive reptiles found in the Americas if not the most impressive of them all. Famed for its ability to crush a prey by curling itself around it, this non-venomous snake has become a folk hero among the people of the American continent, and even as far as the African climate.

Being a huge snake, it is only natural for this snake to have some interesting facts. What soon follows is a small list of these interesting facts:


The boa constrictor is predictably very slow, both in movement and in digestion of what it eats.

Some tribes in Africa have been known to worship the boa constrictor in times past. Even at the moment, a certain clan in Nigeria considers the serpent a sacred pet of the gods of the land.

Against popular beliefs, boa constrictor have teeth. Although they don’t use these teeth to inject venom, they come into play when the serpent wants to prevent captured preys from escaping from their mouths.

Make no mistake. These snakes can climb trees too. Although the climbing of trees seems to be reserved for smaller and more flexible snakes, the boa constrictor seems not to be an adherent of that philosophy. It believes it can, and actually does climb tall trees even as it slowly slithers towards its next prey.

It is an excellent killing machine which some American tribes use to eliminate unwanted animals such as rats and lizards, from their homes.


Other South American Animals

Some of the other animals of the South America that we cannot cover in detail here include: coypu, llama, river otter, puma, caiman, chinchilla, cougar, and tapir.



What you just read is a brief countdown and some detail of some South American animals. If you really love animals, you can read up more about them or hang around National Geographic more often.

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