Amazon Rainforest Herbivores

Herbivores are species that primarily eat plants or parts of plants. With so many trees and plants in the Amazon Rainforest, it’s not surprising that there is a high diversity of animals that feed almost exclusively on plant material. These range from bacteria through to the largest animals in the Amazon Rainforest like tapir and manatees. Here I will mention a few Amazon herbivores with notes about how they live. You can also find more info on Amazon herbivores in other articles like Amazon Mammals, Amazon Bugs, Amazon Insects and Amazon Parrots.

Three Toed Sloth

These are one of the most commonly sighed mammals in the Amazon Rainforest. While you’re boating in Amazon rivers, your guide is sure to draw you attention to sloths high up in the canopy. To give some more information than in the article on Amazon mammals or the Amazon canopy animals, sloths are very poor movers when down on the ground and hardly ever move from the canopy. They do come down to defecate (strange for a canopy animal) and are exceptionally poor when moving around on the ground. Sometimes they need to come down when there are no branches that lead to the next tree. When they do this, instead of clumsily walking on the floor inviting jaguar to come and eat them, they prefer to swim.


Photo by Judy Gallagher on Flickr

These prehistoric-looking birds were once thought to be a missing link. The nestling birds have a claw on each wing, which is used for piercing through the shell and scrambling through vegetation. They are not very good fliers and instead hop between branches when they move around. They digest food by fermentation and so understandably don’t move around very much.

Red Brocket Deer

Photo by Bernard Dpont on Flickr

Brocket deer are hunted by the Amazon Rainforest’s big carnivores like jaguar. These deer are particularly skittish and scared of people, as Amazon people also hunt the deer. From research in the Tamshiyacu Tahuayo Reserve of northern Peru, research shows that as long as other animals have stable populations, brocket deer are hunted sustainably.

Amazon Tapir

The South American Tapir (Tapirus terrestris) is one of the big three animals to see on a wildlife tour in the Amazon with the others being giant otter and jaguar. Tapir haven’t altered much over 35 million years, and to see one is like looking back in time. They prefer water-side habitats and spend much of their time in water, either traveling or simply submerged and avoiding predators.

Amazon Herbivores – Howler Monkey

One of the Amazon Rainforest’s canopy animals, howlers are often heard in the mornings by Amazon tourists but are rarely seen. They are thought to produce the loudest sound of any land living animal. The noise helps identify territories and may communicate social hierarchy. Hunting by people is regarded as the main threat to these primates with habitat loss a close second.

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