The Wildtales Inc.

What lives in the jungle waters?

Giant river turtle in Guyana

What lives in the Jungle waters? The Amazon Rainforest in Guyana is home to all manner of rare and exotic species. From jaguars to anacondas, a whole host of exciting creatures call this jungle terrain home. 

But what lurks beneath the water in the Amazon?

Well, it should go without saying that the River Amazon is a habitat for some fascinating (and potentially dangerous!) animal life – and these aren’t things you’re likely to see in Europe or the US. 

So, let’s take a look at five of the species that live in the waters of Guyana’s rainforest. 


The infamous piranha is pretty well known for being vicious, nasty and highly dangerous. Even just its name causes a feeling of fear in many of us. But is it as deadly as horror films would have us believe?

Not quite!

Scientists and researchers have carried out experiments to see just how deadly piranhas really are. They’ve had (very brave!) participants wade into piranha-infested waters carrying a piece of meat – and these people have been left unharmed by the piranhas. 

Now, we’re not suggesting you do this, as they could certainly still attack. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that they aren’t as dangerous as the media would suggest. With that said, it’s worth remembering that they do possess incredibly sharp teeth, and they could certainly do you some damage if they do decide to attack.

Overall, though, piranhas are pretty unlikely to be dangerous to people unless you’ve disturbed them. Our advice is to stay out of the rivers as much as possible during your time in the jungle. If you end up in the water, try to cause as little disturbance as possible. 


Easily confused with crocodiles, caimans have a distinctly evil look about them – they look like something you might find swimming in a Bond villain’s lair. 

Although they look like crocs, they’re actually more genetically similar to alligators. They’re a little smaller than gators, but they’re even more aggressive. Trust us when we tell you that you don’t want to be on the wrong end of a caiman attack!

They tend to cruise just below the water’s surface or relax at the river’s edge. If you encounter a caiman during a jungle expedition or survival trip, try to keep well clear of it. It’s more likely to attack or become aggressive if it feels threatened or disturbed by you.  


Now for something a bit cuter! Giant otters are definitely crowd-pleasers, as they’re very lovable and have a pretty charming demeanour. 

However, it’s important to remember that the giant otters you might see in Guyana are still wild animals. They may be cute, but they’re still constantly fighting to survive. Their friendly faces contain two rows of sharp, pointed teeth, and their fuzzy paws hide four sets of merciless claws. You’ll still want to keep your distance from these mammals. 

Giant otters are more afraid of you than you are of them, but they won’t hesitate to defend themselves or their young if they feel threatened. If you’re lucky enough to see any, take your photos from a sufficient distance so that they feel safe.


It’s pretty unlikely as you’ll catch a glimpse of this enormous fish, as they have unfortunately been over-fished and are quite rare in the Amazonian waters nowadays. 

But if there’s one swimming in the waters near you, you’ll have a pretty good chance of spotting it – these fish are huge! They regularly weigh more than 125 kilograms (about 275 pounds), and they can easily reach more than 2 metres (over 6 feet) in length. Before populations began to decline due to over-fishing, they were even bigger. 

Interestingly, arapaimas actually require air to breathe, so they regularly have to break the water’s surface to catch a breath. This makes them easy to identify; so do their red tails and enormous size. 

The good news is that these fish prefer to eat other fish species and crustaceans, so they’ll probably leave you alone (as long as you don’t go looking for a fight!). 


Giant river turtles, also known as Arrau turtles, are another pretty sizeable water-dweller of the Amazon. They can grow to more than 1 metre long (around 3 feet). They’re the biggest freshwater turtle in all of Latin America.

You’re most likely to see one of these lovely turtles if you keep your eye on the shores. This is where the females lay their eggs. However, they’ll most likely keep their distance if they see you, so it might be tough to spot them. 

Giant river turtles live only on plants, so they won’t be a risk to you if you do encounter them. However, they are a severely threatened population, so for their own sake, it’s best to try to keep your distance – plus, if you haven’t realised it by now, there are plenty of other potentially dangerous creatures in these waters, so we recommend staying out of the water altogether!


There’s so much fascinating life that lurks beneath the waters of Guyana’s many rivers. There are over 200 species of fish alone, so it would be impossible to list them all here. 

When you’re in Guyana, it’s essential to follow any guidelines or rules that are in place to protect these animals. If you visit the jungle, you’re entering their habitats, and it could have devastating effects on the ecosystem if you interfere with the natural environment. 

The good news is that we at the Wild Tales can provide you with the skills and knowledge you need to keep these animals – and yourself – safe from harm. We’ll teach you the essentials of jungle survival before dropping you in the heart of the rainforest to fend for yourself.

Think you’re up for the challenge? 

Fill in our contact form to find out more information or to book onto one of our Amazon adventures. To find out more about Guyana you can visit the GTA.

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