13 Scary Animals And Bugs From The Amazon

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Vote up the most terrifying critters and creepy-crawlies from the region.

All jungles can be dark and spooky, but the Amazon might just be the darkest and spookiest jungle of all. Many animals of the Amazon hold "world's biggest" titles, whether that refers to size or how deadly they can be. The Amazon itself is massive; it represents over half of the rainforests left on Earth. Its lush greenery spreads across Brazil, Peru, and Colombia – and all the creepy insects and prowling predators spread right along with it.

And it's not just the trees or the underbrush that house these frightening creatures. Amazon River animals can be scary as well. The massive river and its tributaries house vicious black caimans and slithering anacondas, as well as surprisingly frightening creatures like giant otters. They make look cuddly, but they're shockingly effective killers.

You probably know about some of the nice animals that live in the Amazon, but what about the Amazon animals that could possibly kill you? South American species definitely don't mess around.

Photo: MarcusObal / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

  • Brazilian Wandering Spiders
    Photo: Techuser / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0

    Brazilian wandering spiders have one of the deadliest venoms in the world. Their bite can cause a human to lose muscle control, become paralyzed, and suffer from severe pain. Inflammation of the lungs and throat can also cause breathing problems. What's more, you might not even see them before they strike – since these spiders prefer moist, damp places, they tend to hide in crevices or under rocks on the jungle floor.

    To say these spiders are scary is an understatement. Since they can be transported by hiding in people's clothing and can sometimes be discovered in crates of bananas, they aren't just the Amazon's problem.

    1,055 votes
  • 2
    850 VOTES

    Bullet Ants

    Bullet Ants
    Photo: Geoff Gallice / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

    The bullet ant has the world's most painful sting. When it bites you, it injects venom that causes horrible affects to the victim for at least 12 hours and up to an entire day. Entomologist Dr. Justin Schmidt has made it his life's work to experience the bites of as many insects as possible, and has found the bullet ant to be the most painful by far: "The pain is so immediate and intense that it shuts down all illusions of life as normal. Imagine sticking a finger in a 240 volt electrical socket.”

    Plus, bullet ants are huge. They're the largest in the world at almost one inch long. They are carnivores and will eat other small insects, and also pick fights with other ant colonies.

    850 votes
  • 3
    969 VOTES

    Killer Fungi

    Killer Fungi
    Photo: Bernard DUPONT / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0

    The Amazon has almost every other deadly thing you can think of, so why not fungus? While new species are being discovered every year, at least one form of fungus has been observed to take over ants, use their bodies as hosts to spread spores while the victims slowly die, and then use the carcasses to grow some more.

    The fungus attaches itself to an ant as it walks on the rainforest floor. Then, it releases specialized chemicals that control the ant's behavior, effectively turning it into a zombie. The fungus forces the ant to crawl up into a tree and latch on before it dies so the reborn fungus will be in a suitable environment to thrive. Now that's some scary spore.

    969 votes
  • 4
    727 VOTES

    Pit Vipers

    Pit Vipers
    Photo: Mark Mannetti / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Pit vipers get their name from the heat sensors located on their heads between their eyes and nostrils. These bizarre holes detect changes in temperature, and the vipers use this information to track prey. The pit viper family includes many different kinds of snakes, such as water moccasins or rattlesnakes, but they all share one trait: venom. And pit viper venom is special; rather than attacking the victim's respiratory system, it destroys red blood cells.

    There are several kinds of pit vipers found in the Amazon, including terciopelos and bushmaster snakes. Terciopelos seem to be the most common culprits when people get bitten. Bushmaster snakes, on the other hand, are less frequently seen – although they can grow up to eight feet long.

    727 votes
  • 5
    620 VOTES

    Assassin Bugs

    Assassin Bugs
    Photo: JJ Harrison / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Assassin bugs live up to their frightening name. Although they live all over the world, the ones that have made the Amazon their home have adapted to survive in its unique environment. These bugs use long proboscises to puncture the flesh of their prey, pump in liquid toxins to dissolve their organs, and then suck up the melted insides.

    Assassin bugs have also been observed to smear sticky sap on their legs in order to catch and hold onto their prey more efficiently. They may also use camouflage techniques, covering themselves with leaves and dirt to blend into the rainforest floor. Some ingenious assassin bugs will even use the carcasses of their prey as a shield, hiding their presence from both sight and smell.

    620 votes
  • 6
    673 VOTES
    Photo: Charlesjsharp / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

    The jaguar is the largest of all the cats found in South America. Due to the activities of hunters and ranchers, they are now only found in remote parts of the continent, including the Amazon. Recognizable by their distinctive black-on-orange spots, jaguars were revered by indigenous peoples. Like all cats, they are carnivores and dine on both large animals like tapirs and smaller animals like turtles. Jaguars are not afraid of the water and are very good swimmers, making fish and caimans a menu option as well. They have been known to hide in trees and attack from an animal's blind spot, killing them with their powerful jaws.

    These big cats are solitary creatures and live alone; they will actually mark their territory with urine to keep other jaguars from paying them a visit. Jaguars even like to eat in private, dragging their kill back into the trees and waiting for their next victim.

    673 votes