But thrilling to see from the ship on an Amazon river vacation
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Black Caiman: You thought alligators were mean? Meet the black caiman, its more aggressive cousin, and the largest predator in the Amazon. These amphibious, modern-day dinosaurs can reach lengths up to 15 feet, and yet remain almost totally invisible in the water. Let’s all keep our hands and arms inside the cruise ship, shall we?
Green Anaconda: The largest snake in the world, green anacondas can grow to more than 29 feet, weigh some 550 pounds, and measure 12 inches in diameter. They dine on animals as large as wild pigs and deer – sometimes even caimans. And while they may seem less than lithe on land, these snakes are extremely stealthy and sleek in the water.
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Piranha: This iconic Amazonian predator exists in 25 different species – but the red-bellied piranha has the strongest jaws and razor-sharp teeth. These pack hunters are known as insatiable killers, eating in frenzied attacks. Luckily, they happen to be scavengers as opposed to aggressive hunters – so no need to worry! Right?
Jaguar: If you’re lucky enough to see a jaguar on your Amazon river cruise, you’re likely to think it looks cuddly and sweet. But think again, because the largest cat in the Western Hemisphere is one fierce predator. Their Native American name means “he who kills with one leap,” a pretty accurate description considering jaguars ambush prey even in the water and from trees. Their powerful jaws can crack open turtle shells, and they can take down caimans and anacondas.
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Poison Dart Frog: No – these frogs won’t actually eat you. But they still deserve a mention, thanks to their skin, which secretes a poison capable of killing humans. Not all of the 100-plus species are dangerous to humans, but the golden poison frog is considered the most toxic vertebrate on Earth, with enough poison to kill 10 grown men. No touchy!
To sum up: you don’t want to take a swim in the Amazon. But experiencing all its wonders on an Amazon River cruise – from the safety of your luxury cruise ship – is an entirely different story!