The wildlife found in Central and South America is immensely diverse.  The Amazon jungle alone is home to millions of different species of the most beautiful, exotic, and dangerous animals to walk the earth.  The Galápagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador is home to entire species found nowhere else on earth, and was the birthplace for Darwin's Origin Of The Species.  Listing all the animals of South America would be impossible, and new species are still discovered regularly, instead we will list the animals that pose a danger, or are otherwise interesting.

Reptiles And Amphibians

Alligators, crocodiles, and caymans can be found all over Central and South America, including the islands of the Caribbean. Anacondas, the worlds largest snake, is found from Colombia to the northern areas of Argentina, various species of Boa and Python are native across the entire region, as well as the islands.  While small children have been reported to be attacked as well as pets and even livestock, only the very largest anacondas pose a threat to a full grown man.  Of much greater danger to humans is the Lancehead and the Bushmaster.  Varieties of both snake can be found throughout the entire region including the carribean islands.  The Lancehead, also known as the Fer De Lance, is responsible for more snake related deaths in the Americas than any other group of venomous snakes.  The Bushmaster is every bit as prevalent, and much more aggressive, having the distinction of not only being the longest venomous snake in the Americas, but the longest viper in the world.  The Coral snake, found from Mexico to Brazil is a non-aggressive though highly venomous.  Tropical Rattlesnakes are found in every country in the region save for Ecuador and Chile, while Mexico and Central America are home to several species of Rattler.  Also worth mentioning as venomous species are the Jumping Viper and Eyelash Pit Viper.

The Poison Arrow Frog is not venomous, however it does excete an extremely potent poison from its skin.  The poison is so virulent that natives rub arrows and blowgun darts on their back to bring down their targets.  Some frogs can have up to 200 micrograms of poison, enough to kill 100 (or even more) adult humans.  In modern times, Cartel special forces will coat the blades of their knives with this poison.

Canines and Felines
Wolves are still found in remote areas of Mexico and Coyotes are abundant in Central America while most of South America is home to the Bush Dog.  A variety of Large Cats make their home in the region.  Cougars, Jaguars, and the smaller Ocelots and Margays roam Central and South America from Mexico to Argentina, and have are even found on the island of Trinidad.  Other species have more confined territories and are typically much smaller, like the Kodkod and Mountain Cats of the Andes mountains, and the Geoffroys Cats  of the Andes, Pampas and Gran Chaco landscapes.  Of all these animals, only Cougars and Jaguars pose any danger to man.

Fish and Aquatic Life
The most dangerous freshwater fish in the world, the Piranha, is found exlusively in amazonian waters.  Of lesser danger is the venomous Toadfish.  Unconfirmed reports of giant catfish up to 6 feet long attacking humans, especially children, persist.  More feared even than the Piranha, a school of which can pick a full grown cow clean to the bone in minutes, is the Candiru.  The candiru is a spiny little parasitic fish that has been known to enter the orifices of humans, particularly the urine tract.  They follow the flow of warm water from a urinating human bather or swimmer, and lodge themselves in the penis.  Skinny dipping in the amazonian rivers, and especially urinating while swimming in them is strongly warned against.  One it enters the urine tract its extended spines act as barbs, preventing it from being extracted.  The most common remedy is a mixture of plants known to natives.  There are reports of SAA interrogators forcing captives to sit submerged to the neck in barrels with Candiru fish, the suggestion of the threat is enough to make most talk.  In the oceans and gulf, the dangers increase, as sharks, including great whites, bulls, tigers, and hammerheads are prevalent.  Stingrays, Coneshells, Seabass, Barracudas, and jellies, including Man-O-Wars, can make swimming a dangerous venture indeed.

Insects and Arachnids
Mosquitos transmitting Malaria and other diseases are by far the most dangerous insect in the world, leeches, ticks, also spread disease, and the Kissing Bug is known to spread the potentially fatal Chagas Disease.  Of more immediate threat to humans are the numerous species of venomous Spiders, Scorpions, Wasps, and bees.  The most dangerous of which is the Banana, or Wandering Spider, found throughout Central And South America, it is a highly aggressive spider with venom potent enough to be fatal in humans, the bite is also reported as the most painful spider bite in the world due to the high levels of serotonin.  While not dangerously venomous, the Tarantula is a symbol of fear throughout the world, and its bite does transmit potentially dangerous bacteria.  Also of interest is the Goliath Birdeating Spider, the largest spider in the world.

Finally, the tiny ant is an extremely destructive and potentially fatal force.  Huge Bullet ants have an excruciating sting, possibly the most painful on the planet, ahead of even wasps and bees.  Of much more concern however are Army and Driver ants, who have been known to swarm over and kill humans.  Army ants occasionally go on the move, devouring everything in their path for miles.  In rare instances entire colonies of hundreds of millions set out on extended raids stripping the lands bare in their path.  Any animal luckless enough to be caught in a foraging swarm will be killed and devoured, in the space of hours they will reduced to nothing but polished bone. Sleeping or disabled humans have been killed in such a manner, and even if escape is managed, the bites will themselves be hideous, often leaving permanent scars.  Allergic reactions are also possible, and may prove as fatal as that of bee sting allergies.

Other Animals
Interesting not because of any danger or threat to life, other animals are of note due to their rarity or beauty.   Several species of Primate thrive in Central and South America, including Tammarin, Owl, Howler, Capuchin, Titi, Squirrel and Spider monkeys.  Some are prized by natives for their meats, other are prized by foreign interests for their intelligence and ease of training, Capuchins and Spider monkeys for instance are often used as Helper monkeys or just kept as pets. 

The many species of Parrot and Macaw, as well as other tropical fowl, are highly sought after and trappers and smugglers will earn a very comfortable living off the birds, which will be sold overseas for between 1 and 20 thousand dollars.

Written by Deric Bernier