Amazon Ox Manatee (Trichechus inunguis)
Order: Sirenia, Family: Trichechidae
The Amazon Basin of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana and Peru.
The Amazon ox manatee is gray and bears a white patch on its chest or several white markings on its chest and abdomen. Its body is covered with fine hairs and its upper and lower lips are covered with thick bristles. It has two mammary glands near its armpits.
I. GEOGRAPHIC RANGE
II. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS
- The Amazon Basin of Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana and Peru.
III. FOOD HABITS
- The Amazon ox manatee is gray and bears a white patch on its chest or several white markings on its chest and abdomen. Its body is covered with fine hairs and its upper and lower lips are covered with thick bristles. It has two mammary glands near its armpits.
- The largest manatee recorded was a male 2.8 m in length.
- The Amazon ox manatee feeds upon aquatic vegetation such as grasses, water lettuce and water hyacinths. It is also known to eat floating palm fruits. Captives are capable of eating 9 to 15 kg of leafy vegetables per day.
- These manatees breed throughout the year and gestate for approximately one year. Usually one young is born. An individual thought to be a newborn measured 739 mm in length. The mother and calf have a long-lasting bond. The mother may carry the young on her back or clasped to her side. The lifespan of this animal is unknown, but individuals have lived past twelve and a half years in captivity.
- The Amazon ox manatee is a gregarious animal and was once known to occur in large herds. However, as a result of severe over-hunting, groups seen today contain no more than 4 to 8 individuals.
- This animal is both nocturnal and diurnal and lives its life almost entirely underwater. Only its nostrils protrude from the surface of the water as this animal searches river and lake bottoms for lush vegetation.
- Amazon ox manatees can eat up to eight percent of their body weight in aquatic vegetation in one day. Most feeding occurs during the wet season, when the manatees graze upon new plants in seasonally flooded backwaters. When the animals return to the main watercourses during the dry season, they may not eat for weeks.
- Jaguars, sharks and crocodiles prey upon Amazon ox manatees.
VII. ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE FOR HUMANS
- Amaxon ox manatees inhabit the dense vegetation in black water lakes, oxbows and lagoons.
Manatees are a source of food for many native peoples.
IX. OTHER COMMENTS
- The Amazon ox manatee is listed as "endangered" CITES and the U.S. Endangered Species Act and "vulnerable" by the IUCN.
- They have been hunted by Amazonian Indians with nets and harpoons for centuries. In the 1930s and 1940s thousands were killed for their hides, which were used to make water hoses and machine belts.
- The earliest known fossils of the genus Trichechus are from Pleistocene deposits in the eastern United States and Argentina.