10. Toco toucan
Also known as Ramphastos toco, these birds thrive in southern and eastern Brazil. The toco toucans are scientifically classified in the Piciformes order, in the Ramphastos Genus. Toco toucans have a striking plumage and a predominantly black body but the throat and upper tail are white. There is a narrow blue ring around their eyes which is surrounded by an orange outer ring. The most outstanding feature is the huge yellow-orange bill. The bill is between 6.2 and 9.1 inches in length and is reddish-orange on the lower side and culmen. The tip and the base of the bill are black. The elongated beak makes it easy to pluck fruits and eat small reptiles. The total length of an adult is between 21.5 and 25.5 inches while the weight ranges from 500 grams to 876 grams. The female lays two eggs annually which are incubated by both sexes.
The anteater is classified scientifically in the Chordate phylum of the Pilosa order. The natural habitat is rain forests, savannas and dry tropical forests. Feeding on ants is enhanced by long curved foreclaws, the elongated snout and a thin tongue which can extend to reach ants. The surface of the tongue is covered with small hooks known as filiform papillae. The tiny hooks grab insects using saliva and swallowed by sideways movement of jaws. The body is protected by long, dense fur. Anteaters are territorial animals. Reproduction is usually polygynous after which one offspring is brought forth. Twins are rare. A unique feature of anteaters is a great sense of smell, high hearing ability and the absence of teeth.
8. Three-toed sloth
Three-toed sloths derived the name from the three fingers on their foot which distinguishes them from double toed sloths. The total body size is approximately 18 inches long and a weight of 3.5 to 4.5 kilograms. Three-toed sloths can be further subdivided into four species namely the pygmy, the Brown-throated, the maned and the pale-throated sloths. The unique characteristic is being arboreal but descends once a week to excrete. Camouflage is enhanced by greenish coloured fur. To hold tightly to trees and jump in between, the sloths have long curved claws. Mating can occur at any time of the year and a single offspring is brought forth after six months gestation period.
A piranha is a unique freshwater fish famous for robust jaws and sharp teeth. Piranha scientifically belongs to Chordata Phylum, of the Serrasalmidae family. Piranhas are 5 to 14 inches long. The unique characteristic is the strong biting ability due to the dentition of a single row of teeth on each jaw. The teeth interlock making piranhas have the strongest biting ability among bony fish. Some species like the Pygocentrus nattereri are ferocious predators since they hunt in schools. Piranhas are also omnivorous. Theodore Roosevelt, an American President visited Brazil in 1913 and witnessed the viciousness of the Piranha along the Amazon river. Starved piranhas ate up a cow to the skeleton. Reproduction is by laying of eggs in holes.
The capybara is a mammal found in Brazil and the largest rodent species alive. Capybara is a member of genus Hydrochoerus of the Cordate phylum. The main habitat is dense forests and savannas near water bodies because of their semi-aquatic nature. A Capybara is barrel-shaped with a short head. The upper side of the body is covered with thick reddish-brown fur while the lower part has yellowish-brown fur. An adult can be 3.48 to 4.40 feet long and 20 to 24 inches tall. The weight can be up to 66 kilograms though females are usually heavier than females especially in Brazil where the heaviest capybara in the wild was at 91 kilograms. The gestation period is 130 to 150 days after which a litter of up to eight can be brought forth.
Armadillos are mammals in the Xenarthra superorder, in the Phylum Chordata. They are housed in a leathery shell that armour the entire body except for the underside. The unique armour is made up of plates from the dermal bone with overlapping scutes. Their short legs make it possible to run very fast. An adult has an average length of 30 inches including the tail and can gain weight of up to 54 kilograms. Their sharp claws enable Armadillos to become prolific diggers. Diet consists of insects. The gestation period is between 60 and 120 days depending on species. A litter of up to 8 can be born.
4. Yacara caiman
Yacara caiman is scientifically classified in Reptilia class in the Crocodilia order. An adult Yacara caiman is between 6.6 and 8.2 feet long and can have a bodyweight of up to 58 kilograms in males and 23 kilograms in females. Diet consists of small fish, reptiles and smaller mammals. Yacara caiman is prey for anaconda and jaguar. Habitat is mainly in water but will occasionally come to land for sunshine and reproduction. It is estimated that there are over 10 million Yacare caimans in Brazil making the country home to the highest number of a single crocodilian species in the world. In Brazil, they inhabit the southwest and central regions.
3. Poison dart frog
As the name suggests most of the species have toxicity which makes them aposematic. They secrete toxic lipophilic alkaloids through their skin. The alkaloids are chemical defence toxins that protect them from predators. A Poison dart frog is between 0.59 and 2.4 inches long though in some ecosystems can be longer. Dart frogs are aposematic creatures with the bright colouration that make them unpalatable to predators. Reproduction is by laying eggs which hatch to tadpoles which eventually metamorphoses to adults. The natural habitat in Brazil is tropical and subtropical regions, lowland forests, freshwater marshes and swamps.
2. Golden lion tamarin
Golden lion tamarin is a species found in southeastern Brazil. The name is derived from the bright reddish-orange pelage and long hair that covers the face and ears. The beautiful lion-like mane makes them distinctively unique from other primates. The face is usually dark and hairless. An adult can be 10.3 inches in height and weigh up to 620 grams. They have tegulae meaning their nails are claw-like hence assist them to cling to tree trunks. In Brazil, most tamarins are confined in the tropical rain forest in southeastern Region. The omnivorous animals have a monogamous mating pattern. The gestation period is four months. Golden Lion Tamarins give birth to twins though triplets and quadruplets can be born.
A jaguar is classified among the largest cat species that thrive in the wild in Brazil. They resemble a leopard but are slightly bigger and sturdier. Jaguars live on land but enjoy swimming. The carnivores have a tawny yellow coat which has spots with the ventral areas being white. Camouflage is enhanced by the rosettes on the fur. Their weight and size vary considerably but increases as one moves south. On average an adult will weigh 96 kilograms, be 6.1 feet long and 30 inches in height. As an apex predator, the jaguar is at the top of the food chain hence not preyed on by any other animal. The gestation period is 93 and 105 days after which up to 4 blind cubs can be born. They gain sight two weeks after birth and live with the mother until they gain their own territory. In Brazil, jaguars can be found in Xingu National Park, Amazon basin and northern Cerrado.
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