In my story, there is a civilization living in the Amazon rainforest. They need some time of mount that is adapted to the forest. I don't think horses can survive by themselves in there, so I was thinking, can moose/elk survive in the Amazon rainforest?

They would have been transported by ship there, but would they be able to survive? If not, is there an adaptation I need to make to the moose/elk? Maybe an artificially select species?

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    $\begingroup$ Hi Onix, I changed around some tags and you should check them and make sure they work for you. I took out evolution because your question isn't about them evolving but rather if they can survive as a foreign species transported there. $\endgroup$
    – Cyn
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 15:57
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    $\begingroup$ @Cyn I put evolution because I do think that some artificial selection would take part in helping the species surviving there, but thinking about it I do agree that it's best if evolution is removed. Thank you! $\endgroup$
    – Onix
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 16:00
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    $\begingroup$ Please note that we strongly encourage users to wait at least 24 hours before accepting an answer, as doing so may discourage other, better answers from being posted. $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ I feel like I need to ask what your civilization is using these mounts for. Generally the thicker the terrain, the less useful mounted travel actually is, because you're spending more effort making pathways the mounts can travel through than you're gaining back by not Just Walking. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 17:14

4 Answers 4


No, but plenty of their relatives can

A moose or elk would die in the high heat and with limited resistance to insects and such. They simply aren't designed for the rainforest. However, there are plenty of animals large enough to mount that are native to a rainforest, and a rainforest alone.

These animals are not domesticated, so there is one difficulty. In addition, there are several animals that don't live strictly in rainforests, but are domesticated:

Finally, since you mention the Amazon specifically, there are more appropriate animals that are large enough to mount that you could assume were domesticated there. The list of potential mounts gets much larger if you include recently extinct megafauna of South America:

For the extinct species, it is worth pointing out that if they left fossils in the Amazon, there is basically no way the bones would have survived to the present day; the rainforest being perhaps the worst possible environment for bone preservation.

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    $\begingroup$ Shout out for the Glyptodon! Glyptodons rule! $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 1:51
  • $\begingroup$ Moose/elks aren't domesticated up here where they are native either, so that's not a big difference. $\endgroup$
    – pipe
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 8:27
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    $\begingroup$ afaik there is good evidence that Mooses southern range is limited by en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dermacentor_albipictus, essentially their way of controlling insects/arachnids is to live where its too cold for them $\endgroup$
    – jk.
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 11:51
  • $\begingroup$ Peat bogs are probably worse for bone preservation - but it certainly isn't a good environment. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 12:44

Actual brazillian here.

The reason why you won't find any mountable animals in the amazon rain forest is because it's kinda like a more green, lush version of Australia, in the aspect that half of the biomass is out to kill you in horrible ways.

It is a [redacted] to go through the jungle, on foot or otherwise. And the river waters can be classified in three types:

  • Populated by piranhas;
  • Populated by black caimans, which eat piranhas (besides cattle and humans);
  • Too polluted to allow for piranhas or caimans.

Before western civilization started messing up the ecosystem, indigenous populations would make the water closer to their villages swimming safe by ingenuous application of poison vine essences, which paralyze the piranhas.

Back on land you have 20-cm wide tarantulas whose venom will give you a three-days long constant erection. That would be funny if it weren't for the risk of penile gangrene. Then there are vampire bats, which can carry rabies.

We also have jaguars. They hunt alligators underwater, and they mimic birds and monkeys to lure and eat them on tree canopies. There are reports of jaguars being able to mimic the cries of human babies. Jaguars are loathed by farmers because when they get out of the jungles and into farmlands, they sneak into fences by night to kill cattle.

The icing on the cake are the anacondas. They are sneaky as hell, swim faster than you, and unlike rap music anacondas they will want some even if you've got no buns. They are not picky and will eat cattle and humans. If you raise elks in the rain forest, they will become anaconda food faster than you can say "god [redacted]!".

When people do raise cattle in the north of Brazil, it's always one of these three situations:

  • Cattle raised on farmlands - lands that are no longer forest;
  • Cattle that is confined to very tight fences and allowed to walk only where it's deemed to be safe, usually raised by small, poor families. The poor critters usually live in areas smaller than an acre;
  • Then there is the third type. We have an expression, "boi de piranha"... It translates roughly to "the ox that belongs to the piranhas". These are raised for the sole purpose of making river crossing safer. When you wish to cross piranha infested waters, you send the critter first and wait until the feeding frenzy stops before you go. Usually the piranhas get full and sated with the ox and leave you alone. This is about the only use you will have for an elk this side of the equator.
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    $\begingroup$ I have a vision of a movie where there is one anglo dude who is referred to as "boi de piranha" by his fellow soldiers. He thinks it is because he is a badass piranha boi. That is not why. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 19:11
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    $\begingroup$ Love the level of detail (though I'll love it from a distance, thank you). Glad to see an answer from someone who's actually lived in the area. $\endgroup$
    – Cyn
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 20:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Cyn to be honest I live quite far from it. Me talking about it is like a texan talking about Alaska. But I've been there once. Also there are gruesome images of people eaten by anacondas if you google for them. The rain forest is not for the faint of heart. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 21:17
  • $\begingroup$ I live in California and I know more about Texas (which I've visited at least) and probably even more about Alaska (which I've never been to) than most Europeans, Asians, etc. There are some places that have a lot of mythology surrounding them. You're close enough to the Amazon not to fall for it. $\endgroup$
    – Cyn
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 21:40
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    $\begingroup$ I love this answer. I am originally from Colombia, but spent 4 years living in the Amazon jungle in Peru. I tell people, in total honesty, that when you step into the Amazon, you can feel the jungle licking its lips. I came within millimeters of buying a farm (i.e. pushing up daisies) at least four times. One of my coworkers had the scars from where an anaconda had bitten into her arm (spanned most of her forearm) in preparation to wrap her, crush her and eat her. It was a miracle she survived. The whole thing about the native living in harmony with the jungle is total <redacted>. $\endgroup$
    – user11864
    Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 16:44

In my story, there is a civilization living in the Amazon rainforest. They need some time of mount that is adapted to the forest.

There are Buffalos in the Amazon (in the Brazilian state of Pará) and they can be used to mount:

enter image description here

They live primarily near farmlands (in the Amazon region), but they have been adapted to live in the same climate as the forest.

[...] but would they be able to survive? If not, is there an adaptation I need to make to the moose/elk?

I don't know about a moose/elk, but a Buffalo would be able to survive, if it is domesticated. In addition, although not in the rainforest properly, but close, there is the Marsh deer.

They would have been transported by ship there [...] I don't think horses can survive by themselves in there

There are wild horses in the Amazon:

Forged under the hot climate of that region and struggling against all the threats that have come to them over the past two centuries, the Lavaliers are rustic animals that, according to Embrapa researchers, have developed unique characteristics worthy of study.

A striking feature of the planters is strength and speed . Yes, in addition to being very resilient, they are also excellent sprinters, they can maintain average speed of 60 kilometers per hour for 30 minutes.

The original horses came from Europe, but they have developed unique traits to be able to survive near the jungle.

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    $\begingroup$ Please don't circumvent the reputation system by posting comments as answers. It sucks for newbies, I know, but it's there for a reason. $\endgroup$
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 17:35
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    $\begingroup$ Despite this guy's remark on commenting, this seems like an actual valid answer. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 18:10
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    $\begingroup$ I agree...it's sparse but it's enough to count as an answer. Plus the awesome picture. $\endgroup$
    – Cyn
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 20:14
  • $\begingroup$ BTW nice answer but that picture is from closer to the farmlands and very, very far from the deep jungle. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 21:24
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    $\begingroup$ @AgapwIesu I'm brazilian and I know that "there is much more than the Amazon rainforest in Brazil". The links about Buffalos and wild horses refer to the Brazilian State of Pará which is part of the Amazon rainforest, even though the Island of Marajó (where the Buffalos are) is not deep in the jungle. It is part of the Amazon. As to the Marsh deer, as I said, they live in another Brazilian region called "Pantanal" which is (as I said) "not in the rainforest". $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 25, 2019 at 19:21

Putting climate and disease environment aside, because kingledion covered them, there is the issue of antlers and rainforest growth. Rainforests don't have an open understory the way mature conifer or oak woodlands do, as such anything that grows a large rack of antlers is seriously maladapted to moving around and feeding in the environment. There is evidence of several moose/elk species dying out because when their environment became forested because of this very issue, most notably the Irish Elk.


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