The Amazon Rainforest in Peru is a top destination – and the trip of a lifetime – for any nature lover.
Accounting for more than half of the world’s rainforests, there is a lot to explore in the Amazon jungle.
Let’s take a look at some of the most fascinating mammals, birds, and reptiles that you can spot in the Peruvian Amazon.
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Amazon Rainforest Mammals
Along with stunning nature, the Amazon Rainforest in Peru is teeming with wildlife.
Depending on the season and weather in Iquitos, you might spot certain species more easily. Regardless of when you visit, however, you are bound to have an unforgettable wildlife experience.
Red Howler Monkey
Named after their distinctive howl-like sounds, howler monkeys are one of the largest species in the New World monkeys family. Their diet is primarily made up of leaves, but they will regularly eat other plant items such as fruits, seeds, and flowers.
The red howler monkeys have beards and long, thick red hair, and are the most common howler species.
With an abundance of leaves and plants in the Peruvian Amazon, these monkeys can spend up to 70% of their day resting in the trees as they don’t have to spend much time foraging.
Fun fact: When a troop of howler monkeys occupies a territory, the males use their voices to send a message to other monkeys, usually at dawn time. Their loud calls can be heard up to three miles away.
Pink River Dolphin
The pink river dolphin is a unique freshwater dolphin that swims through the currents of the Amazon river. Unlike their marine fellows, pink river dolphins (also called Amazon river dolphins) have rounded foreheads and long, skinny beaks.
These friendly species are considered mythical creatures in many South American folklore and are most recognizable by their unique pink hue.
Fun fact: The brighter the pink color, the more attractive the males are to females during mating season.
Amazonian tapirs are one of the largest mammals in South America.
Tapirs have a charming, yet unusual appearance – thick necks and short trunks used for grasping objects and lifting food into their mouths. While they may seem sedentary, tapirs can actually cover great distances in the forest.
The tapir prefers moist, humid areas, so they can often be found near waterways where they can bathe, rest, and eat.
Fun fact: The Amazonian tapir is an excellent swimmer that uses its trunk as a snorkel. These fascinating mammals often submerge in the water to cool off or feed on aquatic plants.
The sloth is one of the most distinct mammals in the Amazon rainforest. Sloths have an exceptionally low metabolic rate, which means that they spend the majority of the day sleeping.
Known for their leisurely pace of life, these slow-moving tree-dwellers can sleep up to 18 hours a day. Although they resemble monkeys, sloths are actually part of the armadillos and anteaters’ family.
In the Amazon, you can find two types of sloths – two-toed (omnivores) and three-toed sloths (herbivores).
Fun fact: While they do enjoy napping, sloths feel right at home in the water. Occasionally, they drop from their treetop perches into the water for a swim. They use their arms to paddle and can even cross rivers.
The capybara, a crowd favorite, is the largest rodent on earth, weighing about 100 lb (45 kg). Unlike their guinea pig cousins, capybaras have a heavy, barrel-shaped body with legs that are shorter in the front.
These herbivores are semi-aquatic and spend most of their time in dense vegetation around lakes, rivers, and ponds.
Because they enjoy more humid habitats, capybaras have evolved to have partially webbed feet that help them propel through water and swampy areas.
Fun fact: Capybaras eat their own feces in the morning. The meal is very rich in protein and contains healthy bacteria that help their stomach digest the fiber from grass.
To see any of these animals in the Peruvian Amazon, knowledgeable guides are a must. A great way to enjoy the magic of the rainforest and witness its rich wildlife is by joining our 4-day Iquitos tour.
Short on time? Check out the 3-day tour in Iquitos.
Amazon Rainforest Birds
The Amazon Jungle is a dream come true for birdwatchers and nature lovers alike. Here are five species you need to know about.
Macaws are long-tailed, colorful members of the parrot family. They have strong beaks that allow them to easily crack nuts and seeds. More surprisingly, their tongs have a bone inside them, making them incredibly useful for tapping into fruits.
Macaws are very social and intelligent birds. They gather in flocks of up to 30 birds and their distinctive calls and screams echo through the Amazonian rainforest.
Fun fact: Once they pick a partner, macaws typically stay together for life. Even more, pairs spend a great deal of their time together – caring for their young, sharing food, and grooming. They can also be seen flying close to each other throughout the rainforest canopy.
Spangled cotingas are tropical birds that can be seen across the Amazon river basin. Their diet consists primarily of fruits and they inhabit places filled with moist lowland forests.
Fun fact: The extraordinary blue-turquoise color of the spangled cotinga is only seen in male species. The females are more discreet and have a brownish hue.
The toucan is one of the most fascinating animals that call the Amazon home. Its oversized, colorful beak has made it one of the most well-recognized birds on Earth.
The toucan’s beak accounts for nearly half of its length and is a useful tool for plucking and peeling fruits such as guavas, figs, and oranges. Toucans are omnivorous and eat a variety of foods, including insects, rodents, and even small birds.
Fun fact: Although toucans spend a lot of their time in trees, they are not the best fliers around. They’re typically seen hopping among trees or flapping their wings vigorously to travel short distances.
The royal flycatcher can be found in the Amazonian forest understory, commonly near streams. There, it forages for grasshoppers, ticks, butterflies, and dragonflies.
Royal flycatchers are best known for their spectacular crest. Though they display it rarely, when perched upright, the crest reveals stunning red and blue colors.
Fun fact: The Amazonian royal flycatcher is relatively quiet but occasionally it would give a series of high, sharped calls, typically followed by a series of descending whistles.
The paradise tanager is a beautiful, multicolored songbird. These birds are omnivorous and eat a variety of fruits and insects.
They move around in small flocks and can be found in multiple places around the rainforest, including the Pacaya Samiria national park, which is also one of the top 10 things to do in Iquitos.
Fun fact: While their bright colors may appear rather bold, they actually act as a great camouflage in the Amazonian forest.
Amazon Rainforest Reptiles
Nestled deep into the exotic Peruvian Amazon are some of the world’s most fascinating reptile species. Let’s take a look.
The yellow-spotted side-neck turtle is one of the largest South American river turtles, growing up to 17in (45cm) long and weighing up to 17lb (8kg).
The Amazon side neck turtle is a freshwater, semi-aquatic species that is best recognized by its yellow markings on the head. As the name suggests, they retract their head by bending their neck to one side and tucking it under the rim of the shell for protection.
Fun fact: The best way to spot a group of side-necked turtles is to look out for clouds of butterflies. Butterflies are likely attracted to these species due to the sodium present in the reptiles’ tear ducts.
Black caimans are the largest predators in the Peruvian Amazon basin. Adult species can reach up to 16 feet (5m) long and weigh about 800 lb.
Black caimans love to keep warm and can often be seen sunbathing nearby swamps and lakes. They tend to hunt at night and their prey includes monkeys, armadillos, turtles, and capybaras.
Fun fact: In the wild, a black caiman lives an average of 80 years. In well-preserved environments, it can reach up to 100 years.
Bicolor Tree Frog
The bicolor tree frog is a green tree frog that is known under several different names, including waxy tree frog and giant monkey frog.
Tree frogs thrive in humid, wet environments, which means that they’re almost exclusively found in rainforests. These amphibians spend most of their time in the treetops and secrete a waxy coating to protect their skin from drying out.
Fun fact: For the bigger part of the daylight period, the tree frog sits still on a branch and uses its bright green color to camouflage itself as a leaf.
The green anaconda is a member of the boa family and one of the largest snakes in the world. They can grow to more than 29ft (8m) and weigh more than 550lb (250kg).
In the Amazon rainforest, green anacondas live in slow-moving streams and swamps and prey on turtles, birds, capybaras, and even caimans and jaguars.
Fun fact: Underwater, the green anaconda can reach an impressive speed of 6 meters per second.
Poison Dart Frog
Poison dart frogs are some of the most colorful species in the reptile and amphibian world. Even more, unlike most amphibians, the poison dart frog is active during the day.
Despite its name, the frog doesn’t use its poison to hunt. Rather, it uses it to ward off predators.
Fun fact: There are over 175 different species of poison dart frog, with the golden poison frog being one of the most poisonous animals in the world. Despite its small size (2 in/5 cm long), the golden poison dart frog has enough poison to kill about 10-20 jaguars.
Learn More About the Animals of Peru’s Jungle
Ready for an unforgettable jungle adventure? Check out our complete Peruvian Amazon travel guide and find out everything you need to know.