The Amazon has been called lots of names including the lungs of the Earth and is believed to host at least 10% of species on Earth. That is why the Amazon is the most diverse ecosystem on Earth where trillions of animals and plants have found a home and coexisted for centuries. Living in the Amazon means you have to adapt to the harsh environment to stay alive, so, if you can’t build up the strongest poison, at least learn to bite the hardest, run the fastest or choke your prey to death like the anaconda. While extensive media coverage has brought the green anaconda to the top of the list of the most feared animals in the Amazon, these 10 are not any friendlier to encounter.
Bull sharks are considered the most dangerous shark species to humans because they are extremely territorial and they defend their space aggressively. They account for more human shark attacks than great whites. These sharks are comfortable living in both salty and fresh waters and have been seen swimming 2500 miles up the Amazon River away from the coast. They also inhabit Lake Nicaragua among other freshwater rivers and lakes in Central and South America, so if you were planning to take a swim in the Amazon River; better think again.
The Golden Poisoned Dart Frog
Frogs are rarely ranked as the most dangerous amphibians in the world but the poison packed by these little frogs earn them a top spot on this list. A single frog carries enough poison to kill 10 grown men, so you can guess what will happen if your lips or any exposed part of your body comes into contact with these shiny amphibians. People poach them to sell in the illegal pet markets while some indigenous tribes still harvest their poison to use in making poisoned darts.
The Wandering Spider
There are 8 species of these spiders and some people call them the Brazilian banana spider because they tend to live between bunches of bananas. The bulk of the population resides in the Amazon though and they are not very friendly. They are also the most poisonous spider species known to man and the Guinness World Records also identify them as the most poisonous spiders on Earth. A bite from one will cause excruciating pain followed by difficulty breathing and probably paralysis and then death if left untreated.
Many people look at these schooling species of fish as nothing more than vampires that will nibble you to oblivion if you find yourself in their infested waters. They live in both still and running waters of the amazon basin and most of their food comes from the fins they nobble off other fish. They also eat small mammals and other fish, mostly those that are dead or dying. They won’t go aggressively against a human being but if you fell into a pool full of starving piranhas, you only need about 400 of them to nibble you into nothing. They don’t actively hunt or go after alive human beings or large animals though.
Jaguars are actually an endangered species thanks to the encroachment of human activity into their habitat. Jaguars are not your docile kitties that will sit back and let a human being disturb the peace of its home. Jaguars can easily attack and kill a human and although attacks in the world are rare, when they happen, they are almost always fatal. Jaguars don’t actively hunt human beings though; they hunt smaller mammals and reptiles and even go after the black Caimans which are the amazon’s version of the crocodile.
The most feared of these are the South American rattlesnakes which are among the most poisonous snakes species in the whole world. Pit vipers are poisonous snakes that have an extra sensory organ between each nostril and each eye that act as a radar that help them to accurately aim their strikes at warm-blooded animals. While the anaconda is the most famous snake in the amazon, rattlesnakes, boa constrictors, bushmasters and other vipers of the amazon are a bigger danger because they can kill with a single strike and it is almost impossible to predict where you will meet the next one.
On the Schmidt Pain Index, a bullet ant sting is rated as 4+ with 4 being the highest value on the scale which gives you an idea of how excruciating that sting can be. They are one of the largest ants in the world and they stock a poison-laced with a neurotoxin whose waves of pain are also accompanied by paralysis, hallucinations and other symptoms that can keep you in bed for days. Their sting has been described as the equivalent of being shot with a bullet.
Bullet ants can be found on the forest floor and trees in most areas of the Amazon, and while they are not very aggressive, they won’t hesitate to paralyze you if you get too close to their nests. They are also called the 24-hour ants for unknown reasons but it could also be the period of time you will survive if stung by a large group of these ants.
You know they love blood but they are the one thing most likely to kill you if they bite you deep inside the Amazon. Their bites are not painful, you will hardly realize that you have been bitten by a vampire bat because they have to keep it painless so that they can drink your blood before you notice it. Vampire bats carry lots of dangerous pathogens though and they are very likely to give you rabies which is likely to be fatal if you don’t get treated within a short time. However, vampire bats are rarely aggressive against humans and they may even be friendly but you don’t want their teeth near your skin.
The Black Caiman
Caimans are the cousins of the North American alligators and their reputation is not any less different from that of their North American relatives. They are relatively smaller than alligators but they can still grow to be as long as 13ft. Their powerful jaws are well equipped to rip through flesh and bone, so if you set your foot in a caiman’s nest, you are likely to walk away without it. The sad thing about caimans is that they are not good at ripping through flesh so they prefer to drown their prey before swallowing it whole which is bad news.
While caimans and anacondas are huge and scary, they are no match for electric eels. These snake-like creatures are actually a family of knife fish more closely related to catfish than eels. Their bodies have three main organs full of electricity-generating cells called electrocytes. A fully grown eel can release up to 860 volts of electricity, enough to knock out a horse cold. They leap from the water onto their prey, pressing the chin against the intruder to deliver maximum pain. They have been recorded knocking out caimans in seconds and if a human being found themselves in their path, they could be stunned and be caused to drown.