What grows in Chile and which animals live here?
Chile extends over 39 degrees of latitude from north to south. From dry desert to snow-capped mountains, there is a wide variety of landscapes. Only certain plants can grow in the individual regions and only certain animals live there. There are 36 national parks in Chile to protect nature.
The animals in Chile
The animals of Chile have adapted to their habitat like the plants. A typical animal of the salt lakes in the Atacama Desert is the flamingo. Thousands of them live here, mainly Andean flamingos and James flamingos. The Chilean flamingo lives further south. To get more information on Chile and South America, check localbusinessexplorer.
Degus and chinchillas
Shrub rats (degus) inhabit almost the whole country and are found nowhere else (except in a small area of Argentina). The degus live in burrows, like rabbits with us. There are four types. Of these, the common degu is also known as a pet. Another domestic animal native to the Andes is the chinchilla. Of the two subspecies, the long-tailed chinchilla is endemic to Chile. Because of its soft fur, it has been heavily hunted and is therefore almost extinct in the wild.
The chiloe opossum
The Chiloé opossum also only lives in Chile and on the border with Argentina. It is named after the Chilean island of Chiloé, where it also occurs. It is a marsupial, so the young are born in the pouch and grow up there. When they are big enough, they come out and cling to the mother’s back at night while she hunts for insects and larvae.
In the Andes you can find the two national animals of Chile: the Andean condor and the Andean deer. The Andean condor is a scavenger and one of the largest birds in the world. The Andean deer is also called Huemul and occurs in two species, both of which live in Chile: the northern Andean deer in the north, the southern Andean deer further south. The Darwin rhea, a ratite, is also widespread.
New World camels and predators
Llamas and guanacos, the camels of South America, also live in the Andes. Predators in the mountains are the puma, the Andean cat, the Andean jackal and the Chilean forest cat. It lives in southern Chile and its population is threatened. A small species of deer is the southern pudu.
The long Chilean coast has its own fauna. Two species of penguins live here: Humboldt penguins and Magellanic penguins. Humboldt penguins are also found in the north of the Pacific coast. Even as far as Peru! Magellanic penguins can be found in the south. The distribution area overlaps in the south of Chile, so both species are found there. Rockhopper penguins, golden crested penguins and other species can also be found on Tierra del Fuego and in the Antarctic.
On the coast
The pelican is one of the water birds of Chile. A distinction is made between the brown pelican and the chile pelican. Both like to dive and this is what sets them apart from other species. Their droppings, like that of guanocormorants and guanot boobies, were a popular fertilizer. From 1850 guano made up a significant part of exports. With the invention of artificial fertilizer in 1908, exports then decreased sharply. Fortunately, because the birds were endangered because the workers not only collected the guano, but also took the eggs and killed birds to eat. Maned seals are another coastal animal in Chile.
Dolphins, whales and many fish swim around the coast. The abundance of fish is a result of the cold and oxygen-rich Humboldt Current. A lot of plankton is transported in it. This serves as nutrients for the fish and then further in the food chain for the water birds and large marine mammals.
Humboldt or Magellan penguin?
The two most common penguin species in Chile look very similar. They can still be easily distinguished: the Magellanic penguin has a black stripe on the neck and one across the chest, the Humboldt penguin only has one stripe!
What is growing there?
Almost nothing grows in the Atacama Desert in the north of the country – it is simply too dry. Towards the coast or mountains there are cacti and small bushes. Heavy rains occur every few years, triggered by El Niño. Then suddenly the desert blooms like in the photo on the left.
Grasses and trees
Further south the desert turns into dry grass steppe. Trees that are adapted to the drought are the Algarrobo (Prosopis chilensis), the Chañar or the Peruvian pepper tree.
Andean cushion Yareta
In the Andes you can find the Yareta, which is also called the Andean cushion. It forms hilly cushions, is evergreen and grows very slowly. Large plants can be 3000 years old! It is used as medicine by the Indians. Andean people also use the plant as fuel (since no trees grow here), so it is highly endangered.
The Boldo shrub, which is native to Chile, is also used as a medicinal plant. The leaves are used to make tea, which helps relieve stomach ache. Cloud forests grow on the slopes of the Andes and the coastal mountains. There are tree ferns on their trees.
The honey palm likes it warm
In the center of the country, the climate is similar to that of the Mediterranean, for example the honey palm grows here. It can be up to 30 meters high. Their juice is sweet and can be used to make palm sugar or palm honey. To do this, however, you have to fell them. Because that happened too often, it is now endangered and protected. The soap bark tree (Quillaja), whose bark can be used to make soap, and the Puya chilensis plant also grow here where it is warm.
The south of Chile is cool and rainy. Pine, cypress and, above all, beech trees are typical trees. The forest that grows here and is evergreen is called the Valdivian Rainforest. Here you can also find the Chilean araucaria. You can also eat the seeds from the cones. For the natives in this area they were an important food to survive the winter.
The Chilean wax bell
The Chilean wax bell also grows on the southern coast. It is the national flower of Chile. It only grows here, so nowhere else in the world. It is a climbing plant with lianas. Its flowers are bright red, pink or white and hang down.