Animals That Live In South America

South America is home to a large number of different species. It is home to a lot of different impressive animals, from large reptiles to very powerful fish.

Animals That Live In South America

Many of the animals that you can find in South America cannot be found elsewhere. This is because they are specially adapted to the climate in the region which happens to be very humid and warm.

You will recognize a lot of these animals as some of these are very well known. However, some of the animals that you can find in South America will surprise you as they are unknown. 


The Capybara is actually from the rodent family. It is the largest rodent in the world and it can only be found in South America. These animals are around 2 feet tall and 4 feet long. 

The Capybara is covered all over with brown fur and looks like a cross between a pig and a giant guinea pig. These animals live on water plants and so they live near waterbanks.

These animals can hold their breath for up to 5 minutes underwater to allow them to escape their predators.


Piranhas are known across the world for their razor-sharp teeth and vicious bites. These animals have lived in the freshwater in South America for millions of years.

Not all of the piranhas in South America eat meat, some of them are vegetarian. This is always left out of the movies!

The piranha that you see in the movies is called the red-bellied piranha. This fish will attack small mammals who find themselves in the water, as well as fish and molluscs.


Sloths (Also check out Are Sloths Endangered?) are very common in South America. They are known for being very slow animals, and they move very slowly.

They spend over 15 hours a day asleep. These animals live in the trees and feed on twigs and leaves. They don’t need much food to live off.

Sloths can swim so every now and then they get down off the trees and take a dip in the water. They use their long arms to help them to swim.


This is a very famous snake that you can find in South America. They are the heaviest snake in the world, weighing up to 550 pounds.. These snakes can grow to be as long as a school bus.

You will not be killed by a bite from this snake as they are not venomous. However, they do kill their prey by constricting them.

They wrap their bodies around their prey, break their bones and kill them. They will then swallow their prey whole. All in all, this is an animal that you should stay away from!

Anacondas live in water so they are mainly found in swamps and marshes.


The jaguar is the third largest cat in the world and it is native to South America. These cats can grow up to 8 feet in length. They can weigh up to 300 pounds. 

Jaguars look like leopards in lots of ways but they have shorter limbs and bigger paws. Jaguars live in tropical forests, swamps, grasslands and scrublands and they prey on lots of different animals.

They especially prey on medium-sized animals. They are very good hunters and they are able to pierce their prey’s skull with their teeth.

Animals That Live In South America

Giant Anteater 

The giant anteater is the biggest of all of the anteaters in the species. It can grow very large and it will appear even larger because of its very thick fur.

The anteater gets its name because of its elongated head and long nose that are great at scooping up insects from an anthill. 

These anteaters have very thin and long tongues that scoop up these insects. They have no teeth so this is the only food that they can cope with.

These animals live in rainforests in South America. They can also be found in Central America.

Peruvian Hairless Dog 

The Peruvian hairless dog is believed to have originated in Peru, hence its name. It has a long documented history and this animal nearly reached extinction around 20 years ago.

There was a renewal in interest in these dogs and this meant that they came back up to a non-endangered status.

This dog doesn’t have any protection as it has no hair. This means that it commonly suffers from sunburn, skin allergies and rashes. In some cases, these animals are given clothes to wear to protect them.


Caimans come from the same species as Crocodiles. They are found in the sea and they are very dangerous animals. They eat fish and other warm blooded animals (see also: Animals That Drink Blood)such as other reptiles and birds.

These Claims are usually green or gray, so they are able to blend in with their surroundings. They have very big eyes and so they are very good at hunting. Caimans are found in the wild in South America and Central America.

These animals are often hunted, they are poached for their skin and meat. The number of Caiman has lowered greatly for this reason. 


The Toco Toucan is one of the most beautiful birds out there. It is found in the forests in South America. These birds have very oversized beaks that can grow up to 9 inches long. 

These birds also have very bright blue eyes. They can live in woodlands, gardens and plantations as well as tropical forests.


Llamas are very commonly found in the Andes Mountains. They can be found in Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and lots of other countries.

Llamas have been used for centuries as pack animals and they are very gentle animals. If they are overworked, they will refuse to move.

Llamas eat grass and they only need a small amount of water. This makes them ideal for pack animals in the mountains in South America. Llamas are very cute animals and they have become very popular in recent years.

Olivia Kepner