Because the Pantanal is flooded for a significant period of the year, it attracts mammals that are well adapted for living in and around water. For example, both "lontra" (river otters) and "ariranha" (giant river otters) can be seen in the area. Otters are part of the family Mustelidae and are closely related to skunks and badgers. They are extremely strong swimmers, using their muscular tails to propel themselves, and their webbed feet for steering.
Other species such as "capivara" (capybara) can be spotted in large herds swimming in lakes or browsing along-side the shore. Capybaras are the world's largest rodent, and although they seem to be aquatic mammals, water is primarily used as a refuge for them and most normal activity takes place on land.
IN PHOTOS: View photo galleries of animals in Brazil
Jeff's quest to see an "anta" (tapir) could actually be fulfilled on this trip, as both the Pantanal and the Cerrado host healthy tapir populations. Tapirs are hoofed mammals closely related to zebras and rhinoceroses. There are four species of tapirs: Malayan, Baird's, Brazilian, and Mountain. Baird's, Brazilian and Mountain tapirs are all found in South America with the Brazilian tapir found in the Pantanal and Cerrado.
The Pantanal has several deer populations including "veado catingueiro" (gray brocket deer), "veado mateiro" (red brocket deer), "cervo do Pantanal" (marsh deer) and "veado campeiro" (pampas deer) - all of which we stand a good chance of seeing while traveling the region.
More difficult to see will be the edentates – animals in the taxonomic order of Edentata, which means "toothless." This is a misnomer however, as the endangered "tatu-canastra" (giant armadillo) can have as many as 100 teeth – more than any other mammal. Other edentates found in the Pantanal or Cerrado include "tatu-peba" (six-banded armadillo), "tatu-galinha" (nine-banded armadillo), "tamandua bandeira" (giant anteater), and "tamandua-mirim" (collared – or lesser – anteater).
Armadillos are covered in protective bands and plates made of a double layer of horn and bone. The plates are surrounded and connected by flexible skin making the body armor malleable until the animal dies.
Anteaters are insectivores, using their foreclaws to rip open ant and termite nests and capturing the prey with their long sticky tongues. Anteaters also carry their young on their backs or flanks for up to a year after the baby is born. Typically most armadillos and the giant anteater are diurnal and live on the ground, however, the giant armadillo and other anteaters are nocturnal.
Primates in this part of Brazil are not common, but there are "bugio ruivo" (black howler monkeys) and "macaco prego" (capuchins) in the Pantanal, which if not seen, can sometimes still be heard. Both Howlers and Capuchins are New World monkeys. Capuchins are also called Ring-tail monkeys because their slightly prehensile tail is often coiled at the tip.
Howlers are the largest of all the New World monkeys, and all nine species are known for their loud, persistent calls. Their vocalizations can be heard up to 5 km away through the jungle or across lakes.
Peccaries are not uncommon to see in the Pantanal or Cerrado. These pig-like mammals have a bristly mane of stiff, long hair, and emit a musky secretion from their dorsal gland when excited. There are two species of peccaries found here: "cateto" (collared peccary) and "queixada" (white-lipped peccary).
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