20 amazing animals of Venezuelan Llanos

The Llanos of Venezuela are home to a rich variety of wildlife, including pumas, caimans, capybaras, turtles, piranhas, exotic birds, and deer.

20 amazing animals of Venezuelan Llanos

Venezuelan Llanos

The Llanos of Venezuela is a vast region of plains that harbors remarkable biodiversity. Home to numerous emblematic species, the Llanos are known for their diverse fauna adapted to both aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Prominent animals include the jaguar, tapir, capybara, and river dolphin. It is also a habitat for birds such as the scarlet ibis, jabiru, and hoatzin, many of which are endemic to the region, meaning they are found nowhere else in the world. Reptiles like anacondas and caimans, as well as amphibians like poison dart frogs, also inhabit the Llanos. The region shelters endangered species such as the Orinoco crocodile. The Llanos of Venezuela are a natural treasure that requires protection to preserve its unique biological wealth.

Red Scarlet Macaw

The Scarlet Macaw, also known as Ara macao, is one of the most iconic birds of the American tropics. With its vibrant plumage of intense reds, blues, and yellows, this macaw is a stunning visual spectacle. It inhabits tropical and subtropical forests, and is known for its intelligence and sociability, forming strong bonds with its lifelong mate. Scarlet Macaws primarily feed on fruits and seeds, thereby contributing to seed dispersal in the ecosystem. The Scarlet Macaw is a living testament to the beauty and biodiversity of our tropical forests.

Scarlet Macaws flying in pairs
Agami heron is so photogenic

Agami Heron

The Agami Heron, scientifically known as Agamia agami, is a beautiful aquatic bird that stands out for its unique and striking plumage, with a predominantly greenish-blue body, dark blue wings, and a head with a blue and red crest. This heron is an expert at camouflaging among the riparian vegetation while searching for fish, frogs, and crustaceans in calm streams and rivers. The diet of the Agami Heron includes fish, frogs, and crustaceans, which it captures with great skill thanks to its patience and keen eyesight. It also occasionally feeds on insects and small mammals.

 

Hoatzin

The Hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin) is a known in Colombia as the “Stinky Bird” thanks to the characteristic odor it has in that country (many people believe that its smell is like cow manure). Its physique is similar to that of a chicken, with a small head, a short beak, and a crest on its head that makes it unmistakable.    Despite being a bird, its musculature is very reduced, so it cannot fly long distances. At our Orinoco Queen Lodge camp, they are our neighbors, and you can always see them flapping their large wings and crawling among the tree branches. 

Guyana Tours
Hoatzins are easy to be seen in the Llanos
Llanos side-necked turtle in a river bank

Llanos side-necked turtle

The Llanos side-necked turtle, scientifically known as Podocnemis vogli, is an aquatic turtle species that inhabits the floodplains of Venezuela and Colombia. It is distinguished by its unique way of hiding its head sideways under the shell. This turtle has a dark brown shell and a yellow plastron. Its diet is omnivorous, consisting of aquatic plants, fruits, insects, and small fish. It prefers slow-moving bodies of water such as lagoons and calm rivers.

Three toed Sloth

The remarkable Three-toed Sloth, It’s a cute, furry mammal that lives in trees all throughout Central and South America. They’re called three-toed sloths because of their three claws on each limb, and did you know there are four different species of them? Two of those species even live in the Amazon rainforest! The brown-throated sloth (Bradypus variegatus) is the most widely distributed three-toed sloth, found in places like Honduras, Central America, the entire Amazon rainforest, and even the eastern coast of Brazil in the Atlantic rainforest.

One of the most amazing animals of South America
They can be courious animals sometimes

Giant River Otter

The amazing Giant River Otter (Pteronura brasiliensis),  It’s also known as the river wolf and is a unique member of the weasel family that’s found only in South America. It’s the largest otter in the world, measuring up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) in length! You can spot them in the Amazon, Orinoco, and La Plata river systems. With a sleek body and webbed feet, they are excellent swimmers and can adapt to both land and freshwater environments.

Capybara

The capybara, the world’s largest rodent, is native to South America and can weigh up to 80 kg (175 pounds). Despite its intimidating size, these creatures are mostly shy and gentle. They are typically found near swamps and water holes, seeking refuge from the midday heat. Capybaras are excellent swimmers, with their eyes and ears positioned high on their heads, allowing them to easily see and hear while swimming. They also have webbing between their fingers and toes, which helps them paddle. In situations where they feel threatened, capybaras can hold their breath and remain underwater for several minutes.

The capybara (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris) is a semi-aquatic creature that resembles a large guinea pig.
The giant anteater is the largest of the living anteater species and can eat up to 30,000 ants a day!

Giant Anteater

The giant anteater’s (Myrmecophaga tridactyla)  sticky tongue, which can reach lengths of up to 50cm, allows it to catch ants and termites. This species is protected from ant bites by its thick skin and long hairs. Its long claws are used for opening termite nests, and it walks on its wrists to protect them. Despite being practically blind, giant anteaters find their prey through their strong sense of smell. To conserve energy, they have low metabolic rates and body temperatures as low as 33°C. The pygmy sloth is one of the giant anteater’s closest relatives, sharing a common ancestor over 55 million years ago.

Orinoco Crocodile

The Orinoco crocodile (Crocodylus intermedius), a critically endangered species found in the Orinoco River Basin of Colombia and Venezuela, is known for its large size, with adult males reaching up to 6 meters (20 feet) in length. Its snout shape enables it to crush the shells of turtles and crabs, among other prey. The species is also famous for its bellowing vocalizations, which are used to establish territory and attract mates over long distances. Orinoco crocodiles can live up to 70 years in the wild and are considered sacred by some indigenous communities in the region due to their believed spiritual powers. However, with only a few thousand individuals remaining in the wild, the species is under significant threat.

Spectacular male Orinoco Crocodile in the Venezuelan Llanos
Spectacle Caiman in the Llanos

Spectacled Caiman

The spectacled caiman (Caiman crocodilus), is probably one of the most well-known and famous animals in the Orinoco river. They are distributed throughout much of South America, Central America, and North America. Their body, with an olive green and sometimes opaque yellow hue, can reach up to two meters in length (sometimes less) and weigh around 30-40 kilograms.  They are carnivorous, solitary, shy, and not very friendly. During the day, they can spend hours motionless in the sun, but we have found many of them in our campsite during the darkness of the night in certain seasons. Would you like to observe them? You will surely see them on our excursion.

Green Iguana

One of the most common reptiles in the Orinoco are the well-known iguanas. They are a species of arboreal (tree-dwelling) scaled lizard, with a green color and cold-blooded nature. It’s very common to see them perched among the branches, basking in the sun or resting among the leaves. Thanks to their color, they can easily blend in, and their large crest between the neck and back makes them easily identifiable from other animals. They are oviparous and herbivorous, feeding solely on leaves, flowers, and some fruits. If you want to photograph them, avoid making sudden movements as they are extremely timid and can move very quickly.

Green iguana (Iguana iguana)
Red Hower Monkey and baby

Red Howler Monkey

The Red Howler Monkey (Alouatta seniculus) is one of the most common species in the Orinoco basin. His vocalization is the strongest in the entire animal kingdom, his howls can be heard from over 5 kilometers away. And he hopes that a group of howler monkeys doesn’t encounter another group, as both groups can start howling for over an hour until one of them gets tired (he begs it doesn’t happen during your rest time). Males can use their loud volume as a defense, warning of danger, or for seeking a mate.

Jabiru Stork

The Jabiru stork, also known as Jabiru mycteria, is an impressive wading bird found in Central and South America. It is the largest stork on the continent, reaching heights of up to 1.4 meters and a wingspan of 2.8 meters. Its plumage is white, with a black head and neck, and a distinctive red pouch at the base of its neck. It feeds on fish, amphibians, and small reptiles, capturing them with its strong bill in shallow waters. It prefers to inhabit wetlands and freshwater areas. During the breeding season, it constructs large nests of branches in tall trees.

Jabiru stork is the tallest bird in Venezuela
Angel Falls Andes Llanos
Anaconda in the mud

Anaconda

The Green Anaconda (Eunectes murinus) is one of the largest and heaviest snakes in the world, reaching lengths of up to 7 meters and weighing over 80 kilograms. It is endemic to the Los Llanos region of Venezuela and the Orinoco in South America, where it inhabits rivers, lakes, and swamps. The anaconda primarily feeds on aquatic animals such as fish, caimans, some mammals, and water birds. You can easily spot it on our tour to Los Llanos, especially between the months of December to May. 

Pink river Dolphin

The Amazon river dolphin (Inia geoffrensis), also known as the pink river dolphin, is the largest species of river dolphin in South America, with males reaching up to 2.5 meters in length and weighing 185 kg. They are sexually dimorphic, with males being larger and having a more prominent pink coloration. They have a wide-ranging diet, consuming up to 53 different species of fish, as well as river turtles, aquatic frogs, and freshwater crabs. They are threatened by hunting, loss of habitat, and accidental entanglement in fishing lines.

Interesting facts about The Guianas you must know
PInk River Dolphin is not easy to photograph!
Jaguar
Jaguars are rare and quite stunning

Jaguar

The Jaguar (Panthera Onca)  is the largest cat species in the Americas and the third largest in the world, with a body length of up to 1.85 meters and a weight of up to 158 kg. Its coat is distinctively marked with pale yellow to tan colored fur covered by spots and rosettes, and some individuals have a black coat. The jaguar’s powerful bite allows it to pierce the carapaces of turtles and tortoises, and to deliver a fatal blow to the brain of mammalian prey. It plays an important role as a keystone species in stabilizing ecosystems and regulating prey populations. The jaguar is threatened by habitat loss, poaching, and human-wildlife conflict, and is listed as Near Threatened by the IUCN.

Red Scarlet ibis

The Red Scarlet Ibis, or Eudocimus ruber, is a beautiful bird renowned for its bright and striking red plumage, making it easily recognizable in mangroves and wetlands where it feeds on crustaceans, insects, and small fish. These birds often form large colonies during the breeding season, constructing nests in trees or shrubs. They are known for their graceful and elegant flight, creating a stunning spectacle when they gather in numerous flocks over the aquatic landscapes of their natural habitat.

Amazing colors!
Crab eating racoon in the bush

Crab-eating raccoon

The Crab-eating raccoon, scientifically known as Procyon cancrivorus, is an omnivorous mammal. Its name reflects its diet, which includes crustaceans like crabs, along with fruits, insects, and small vertebrates. It is distinguished by its grayish-black fur and a characteristic white facial mask around its eyes. This intelligent animal is agile both on land and in water, capable of swimming and climbing adeptly. It inhabits a variety of habitats, from tropical forests to mangroves and urban areas. Its adaptability and curiosity make it a notable resident of the ecosystems where it lives.

Great Potoo

The Great Potoo (Nyctibius grandis) , a bird native to South and Central America, is a master of disguise and has a unique vocalization that sounds like an angry fox gargling a Jägerbomb. It spends most of its time perched upright on branches, blending in with its surroundings due to its mottled feathers during the day. At night, it has a prime position to catch insects, such as beetles and moths. Despite its unsettling calls, the great potoo is not considered a threatened species, and it can be found widely distributed throughout Central and South America, including in the Orinoco River Basin.

Sleepy Potoo on a branch
Boas are fascinating

Boa Constrictor

The red-tailed boa, also known as the boa constrictor, is a large and heavy-bodied snake found in tropical South America, including the Orinoco basin. This non-venomous species is commonly bred and kept in captivity due to its distinctive color pattern and variability. Boa constrictors ambush prey, including rats, birds, monkeys, and wild pigs, and swallow them whole. These snakes can survive for weeks without eating after a large meal and continue to grow throughout their lifespan of 20-30 years. Female boas give birth to around 60 offspring at a time, which are born with innate hunting and survival instincts. As they grow, their preferred prey size also increases.

White Tailed deer

The white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is a native cervid species of America. It is characterized by its reddish-brown coat in summer and grayish coat in winter, with a distinctive white tail that it raises when alerted. These graceful herbivores are known for their large ears and branched antlers in adult males, used during the mating season. They prefer diverse habitats, from dense forests to open prairies, where they primarily feed on grasses, leaves, and shoots. Their agility and jumping ability enable them to move swiftly in their natural environment, contributing to their adaptability and success as a species.

White tailed deer and snowy egret