The Amazonian manatee is found living in the freshwaters of the Amazon. It has thin, wrinkled skin, and is hairless except for whiskers around its mouth.
The manatee has flexible flippers that are used to help in motion, scratching, touching and even embracing other manatees. They also use their flippers for moving food into and cleaning the mouth. These do not have nails like other manatees are known to have. The manatee’s upper lip is a large bristly surface which is deeply divided. It can move each side of the lips while feeding. This manatee is also always replacing old and worn teeth with new teeth like elephants do.
The Amazonian Manatee doesn’t have blowholes, it has nostrils that close underwater. It can remain underwater for extended period of time. It breaks through the surface every five minutes of so for air.
Manatees move with the flooding of the Amazon Basin. When food is abundant they are found in the flooded forests and meadows during flood season. When the waters recede in the drier months of July and August, it’s thought that the manatee doesn’t eat, but relies on its fat stores to survive until floods and food are prevalent again. They wait in the deeper parts of lakes until the floods return in March.
The Amazonian along with the Florida manatees are the only known manatees to vocalize. They have been observed vocalizing alone and with others, especially between cows and their calves.
Manatees feed on aquatic macrophytes like aroid, grasses, bladderworts, hornworts, water lillies, and especially water hyacinths. The manatee consumes roughly 8% of its own body weight in food per day.
The Amazonian manatee gives birth between December and July. This allows the cow and her calf to hit the time of rising river levels. After the calf is born it stays with its mother for 12-18 months. In captivity manatees have lived up to 12 years. But it’s not certain how long they can live in the wild. Natural predators include jaguars, sharks, and crocodiles.