The Amazon rainforest has sometimes been described as the world's great reserve of animal life, with arguably the widest diversity of species found anywhere on the planet. It is home to birds, mammals, and reptiles of all shapes and sizes. Some of these are more or less familiar, like bears or ospreys. Others are infamous, such as the vampire bat, while some are simply strange, like the capaybara.
A wide variety of mammal species reside in the Amazon, most of them rodents or bats. Among them is the capaybara, which resembles a cross between a donkey and a rabbit and weighs about 200 lbs. There are 950 different species of bats alone, including the world's only true vampire bats. There are monkeys, giant anteaters, bears, tree sloths and tapirs. The rainforest is home to a number of great cats, such as jaguars and ocelots. The Amazon River provides a home for otters and one of the world's true rarities, freshwater dolphins.
A rainforest like the Amazon literally teems with snakes, iguanas and lizards. Of the snakes, some of the biggest are boa constrictors and anacondas. The best-known poisonous snake of the Amazon is the Bushmaster, or Surucucu. This 12 foot serpent is quick, agile, and has the deadliest poison of any snake in the region. There are also the American version of the crocodile, as well as similar species known as the caiman.
Jungles like the Amazon provide a habitat for many colorful birds. They cover a range of habitat and behavior, from hunters to nectar-gatherers, from those than live in rock outcroppings or nest on the ground to waterbirds. There are cormorants, ospreys, toucans, owls, macaws, parrots, eagles, and hummingbirds. Less well-known are the arcaris, with their huge beak, and hoatzins, with their peculiar crests. There are also nighthawks, harpyjas, and jacamars.