The fauna of the Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden neighbors the Tijuca National Park, with a wide area of preserved forests. This closeness allows many animal species to enter the Botanical Garden and use it in many ways. There are many nests and species that are well established inside the arboretum or in the preserved areas that search for food at the Garden.
To meet the demands related to the fauna, it was created the Project on the Conservation of the Fauna of the Botanical Garden (PCF - acronym in Portuguese) acting in many ways towards the protection, the research, and the preservation of the fauna of the Botanical Garden. The PCF is responsible for the identification and measurement of the number of individuals and for research projects in ecology and animal behaviour while also orienting visitors and collaborators on how to interact with animals in a non-harmful way.
Help us to take care of the Garden's fauna
Do not feed the animals, with anything;
do not try to touch the animals and do not get close to them;
do not leave domestic animals in the garden or in its environs;
The insects that live on the Botanical Garden, or the ones that visit the Garden sometimes, can be understood through the collection of Young and adult insects collected at the plants of the arboretum- mainly those insects that cause some damage to the plants.
The main goal of the entomological collection at the Health Plant Laboratory is to study the occurrences of those species. The most studied insects are the ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae), soil and plant termites (Isoptera), borer beetles(Coleoptera) linked to the palm and mango trees, stingless bees, mosquitos and flies(Diptera) from projects in partnership with other scientific institutions. The collected specimens are compared to the scientific experiments to study existing insect communities in other green urban areas of the state of Rio de Janeiro, such as parks, city squares, and mangroves, with a focus on ants, termites and borer beetles.
At the Botanical Garden, we can also observe the insectivorous plants, popularly known as carnivores, which prey on the insects. They are capable of capturing and digest insects by means of juices secreted by special glands to obtain nitrogen, an essential element to life. Some of those plants only have a sticky secretion, without any movement, while others present special forms adequate to capture their prey. In the last case, the leaves (shapes as tubes or urns) play an active part to capture the insects. Nevertheless, none of them depends exclusively on the animals captured to feed themselves, since, as all the other plants they synthesize their own food by means of photosynthesis.
Many mammals live inside the arboretum, as it the case of the Ingram's squirrels (Sciurus ingrami), wooly opossums (Caluromys philander, Monodelphis americana), among others, which can only be seen at night, such as the big-eared opossums (Didelphis Aurita), porcupines (Coendou villosus) and crab-eating raccoons (Procyon cancrivorus).
There are also the visitor's favorite animals, such as the sloth (Bradypus variegatus), which can sometimes be seen at the arboretum, and the black capuchins (Sapajus nigritus), two species of the Atlantic Forest; Despite being extremely well-adapted to the Botanical Garden, the Capuchins are considered an endangered species according to IUCN's Red List in the VULNERABLE category. They are the only primates that had adapted and survived in the urban environment from the eight original species. There is also a tourist primate commonly seen by the visitors: the Marmoset (Callithrix jacchus and Callithrix penicillata), originally from the Northeast and the Center-East. They are considered to be invading species in Rio de Janeiro that have been gaining space thanks to their survival and reproduction skills. Since they are not from the region, they became highly efficient predators, contributing to the decrease in biodiversity and to the extinction of native species.
The mammals are better seen at night, when they leave their hiding places, but the most famous are the big-eared opossums (Didelphs aurita) marsupials that are well adaped to the urban environment and porcupines (Coendou espinosus), arboreal rodents, with special hair similar to spines, using the cities light posts and wires to cross from one tree to another.
Many mammals cannot be easily seen, such as the stealthy crab-eating raccoon (Procyon cancrivorus), the delicate lowland pacas (Cuniculus paca) and many other small (and a few bigger ones) animals from many species and families.
The bats that swarm around the tree alleys during the night, perform a tireless job of pollination and seed dispersion, which helps the flowers of the Botanical Garden and the entire city. The Bats of the Botanical Garden can be better seen during the nightly walks offered once each month to the visitors.
Some books and field guides were published on the ornithofauna of the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden. Among those works there are a description of the birds catalogued by the ornithologist Augusto Ruschi (1916-1986), with 138 species of 34 families between 1940 and 1980. Other titles have been published throughout the years, with new specimens for the bird watchers that visit the Botanical Gardens. One of the most complete is the "Aves do Jardim Botânico do Rio de Janeiro - Guia de campo" by Lena Trindade, Henrique Rajão and Plínio Senna.
Among the many species of the arboretum, we can mention roufous-collared sparrows (Zonotrichia capensis), great kiskadees (Pitangus sulphuratus), yellow-iored tody-flycatchers (Todirostrum poliocephalum), blue tanagers(Tangara sayaca, Tangara palmarum), green-headed tanagers (Tangara seledon, Tangara cyanocehala), golden-capped parakeets (Aratinga auricapillus, Aratinga jandaya), Maroon bellied parakeets (Pyrrura frontalis), egrets (Egretta thula, Ardea alba), hawks (Rupornis magnirostris, Pseudastur albicollis), among many others.
Some species visit occasionally, migrating or hiding during the winter, such as the saw-billed hermit (Ramphodon naevius), the sapphire-spangled emerald (Amazilia lactea), the Brazilian Ruby (Clutolaema rubricauda), the scale-throated hermit (Phaethornis eurynome) and the dusky-throated hermit (Phaethornis squalidus).
There are also those that are always seen and that are really popular, such as the rusty-margined guan (Penelope supeciliaris) and the channel-billed toucan (Ramphastos vitellinus), that was reintroduced in Rio de Janeiro during the 1960s, after almost being extinct.
There are three species of tortoises and turtles in the Botanical Garden, and the most famous of them live at the Turtle Lake. They are exotic animals of two species: red-eared slider and D'orbigny's slider l (Trachemys scripta – American and Trachemys dorbigni – Brazilian). Those animals, raised as pets, were abandoned by irresponsible people at the Botanical Garden for many years and now they are being taken care of and are controlled to avoid any harm to the environment and to secure their well-being. They can be seen daily under the sun close to the fountain at their lake.
The third species, from Brazil, is the South-American Snake-Necked Turtle, (Phrynops sp) that lives at the Friar Leandro Lake. It can sometimes be seen on the giant water lilies or swimming around.
Many lizards are also part of the Botanical Garden's fauna, among which there are the common lizard, Tropidurus torquatus, that likes to stay under the sun at the Karl Glasl Grotto and the tupinambis (Salvator merianae), that hide in regions of more dense vegetation. There is also some record of snakes,(Boa constrictor) and green snakes (Liophis sp), that do not present any harm to the visitors.
Some species of fish can be seen at the lakes of the Botanical Garden. There are exotic species such as the carps of the Japanese Garden, tambaquis and wolf fish of the Friar Leandro Lake and native species, such as the angelfish and the armored catfish of other bodies of water.
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