Introduction to Amazonian Manatee
The Amazonian Manatee is a common sight around the Amazon Basin. They are often referred to as the sea cow in this region. This is the smallest of the manatee species. As is the case with others manatee species, the females are a bit larger than the males. The average size is just over 9 feet in length and anywhere from 790 to 1,200 pounds.
Amazonian Manatee Description
The color of this species of manatee can be brownish or gray. The skin is thick and wrinkled. They don’t have as much hair as other species but they do have significant whiskers around the mouth. They have teeth that are large and flat. They continue to be replaced as needed for their entire lives. The new teeth will come in at the back and then move the others forward. They have wide eyes and ear canals that are behind the eyes. They have very good vision and hearing as well as smell. They are able to smell using the taste buds on their tongue.
The body is streamlined to allow them the ability to move around in the water with ease. They have a paddle like tail that allows them to easily move through the water. They have nails on the flippers that aid them when they are moving along the bottom of the water. They also have a short but round snout that allows them to smell very well. They instinctively close the nostrils when they are under the water.
Amazonian Manatee Distribution
The freshwater locations around the Amazon Basin is home to the Amazonian Manatee. They live in areas of Venezuela, Columbia, Peru, Brazil, Guyana, and Ecuador. They tend to live in water that is very murky from the mud so that can make it hard to see them. As a result, it is also very difficult to get a definite number about how many of them remain in the wild.
They tend to live in bodies of water that have connections to larger rivers so that they can always find enough vegetation. They move around often in order to find food, for mating, and to stay safe. They may move into larger rivers during the dry season – not for food but so that they don’t get stuck in the mud and not be able to move.
Amazonian Manatee Behavior
Like all species, the Amazonian Manatee is very social. They tend to spend a great deal of their time using verbal communication with each other or touching their bodies to each other. They live in small groups but they can gather in much larger groups. They have also been seen playing games and having fun with each other. A great deal of their time is spent looking for food, eating, and sleeping.
They are very gentle by nature and don’t see to give humans too much of a problem. However, they can be very curious and that can get them into trouble. For example, they may go very close to humans to rub against them due to their ongoing need for touch. This can result in disease risk for them. They also tend to get too close to boats or fishing nets out of curiosity.
Amazonian Manatee Feeding
They are herbivores and have access to a wide variety of types of plants. They can consume from 8 % to 10% of their body weight per day. They tend to eat much more during the wet season and that allows them to store up fat that they can survive on during that dry season when it is time for a change in the cycle.
This species of manatee seems to have a slower metabolism than the others. This works in their favor as they are able to go for long periods of time without food if they need to. The wet and dry cycles in the Amazon play a huge role in their survival. Yet they are highly adaptable which works in their favor when combined with such a habitat.
Amazonian Manatee Reproduction
Males are from 5 to 6 years of age when they mate. The females are much younger, with the average age being around 3 years old. Mating can occur any time of the year, and tends to do so as long as there is enough food and low stress. There are mating herds that form with a male and several females. The females are free to leave that herd and may mate with more than one male. It is about 1 year later when a young calf is born.
The young are very well cared for by their mothers, and will nurse up to 18 months. Small amounts of plants will be introduced at a young age and steadily increased with time. The females tend to only mate once every 3 years unless they have lost their young.