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My name's Steve Backshall.
People call me Steve.
I'm on a mission to find the Deadly 60.
That's 60 deadly creatures from around the world.
And you're coming with me every step of the way.
We're in one of my favourite countries in the world, Brazil.
It's about here.
This is the Amazon rainforest.
It's by far the biggest jungle in the world,
and I think the most spectacular.
Twice the size of Europe
and home to more species of animal than anywhere else on the planet,
the Amazon is wildlife central.
I'm going to be exploring it with my trusty team -
on sound, Rich,
and Dudu, our expert guide.
The biggest rainforest on the planet,
this is home to some living giants.
even giant otters as long as I am tall.
Spiders are the world's finest insect killers,
but there are giant spiders here that can eat much larger animals.
They're mostly nocturnal, which means they're active at night,
so get your scaredy-cushions ready for a night-time adventure
through the biggest jungle on earth.
And as the sun sets, Dudu finds our first giant creepy-crawly.
Ooh, well spotted, Dudu.
If you were going to try and design a creature
that was really terrifying-looking and perfect for hunting at night,
you'd probably come up with one of these.
This is a whip spider.
The front legs are super, super long.
They become like antennae,
tapping around in front of the whip spider,
feeling his way and also feeling out for prey.
See if I can get it onto my hand.
See, they're very canny.
Look at that! Those front legs just tapping around all over the place.
-Not havin' any of it!
There he is. Uh!
Look at that.
Claws spread out, just waiting to give something a nasty pinch.
Are you sure he's harmless?
They're not venomous.
That's not the same thing.
Well, I would imagine that those barbed claws
could give you a nasty pinch.
Well, that's all right, then.
But if you were a cricket or another insect
that was unlucky enough to be wandering around out here,
then you would be mincemeat.
These things are phenomenal predators.
OK. Let's send him back.
There are very few creatures on our list
that look as scary as the whip spider.
But what I'm holding out for is the largest tree spider on earth.
It's the creature of many people's nightmares.
After searching for many hours, our patience is rewarded.
Wow! Oh my goodness!
Great spot, Dudu!
That's the proper tarantula.
It's a good size, actually.
You're more like it.
-It's flicking hairs at you, Steve.
-Yeah, I know, I saw.
'I just want to gently guide her down the tree towards us.'
Whoa! Right, OK.
I don't know if you could see that from there,
but that back leg going frantic, rubbing against his abdomen,
is kicking off very, very fine hairs
which are designed to get into the mouth and the nose
and the eyes and irritate anything which is trying to attack him.
It's a very, very effective deterrent for big spiders like this
and they actually use it more than they use their bite.
It's still there. Hasn't gone anywhere.
Come on, fella.
Look at that. Can you see that?
'Ideally, I'd like to get it in the hand,
'but it's essential that we read the spider's body language.'
-Go steady, Steve.
Ooh. He just struck at my snake stick.
That's not a good sign.
There's several things that you need to read
when you're trying to handle a wild tarantula,
as to whether you're going to get bitten or not
and he's giving me every single one of those bad signs.
He's flicking hairs, striking at the stick, lifting his front legs up.
If I try and get this spider into my hand,
I'm probably going to get bitten.
BUT spiders around here all have different personalities
and I'm guessing that we'll find one
that's much more accommodating than this lassie.
So we need a spider with a calmer temperament that's even bigger.
And round here, they get MUCH bigger.
There are amazing animals everywhere here,
from baby caimans to glorious butterflies.
Now, THAT is a big bush cricket.
The antennae go on forever!
Look at them, just tapping away on my hand.
Feeling me as he's wandering around.
Look at those. That is crazy.
'This really is a forest packed with monsters.'
But after all that searching, we still didn't find our spider,
so we're going to have another look in the morning.
For now, it's back to our hammocks
and dreams of spiders.
First light and an early start to our mission.
I'm already up, raring to go,
but the crew are going to need a little bit more encouragement.
Come on, you lot, we've got a monster spider to find!
Tarantulas do most of their hunting in the security
of specially dug burrows.
The bigger the entrance, the bigger the spider.
I've never seen a burrow this big before.
Oh, my life!
It's something really big.
Here it comes.
Absolutely dripping sweat here.
Look at the size of those fangs!
I've never seen anything this big before
and I've been catching tarantulas for well over a decade.
This is the largest tarantula in the world -
the Goliath bird-eating spider.
They're remarkably canny and cautious.
Getting her our into the open takes infinite patience and care.
Every member of the crew holds their breath.
Once she's out,
the machete provides a safe block
to keep her from disappearing into her burrow.
Well done, mate.
The burrow can be many metres deep.
If she ran now, we'd have to wait hours for another chance.
I'm going to be very gentle with her,
because this is a very old and very special spider.
This is definitely a female
and the females of this particular spider
can get to be 25, even 30 years old.
So she's ancient.
Come on, old girl. There you are.
Now we can get a sense of the size of you.
This spider's venom wouldn't kill me,
but you really don't want to get bitten by those gigantic fangs.
She does, however, have another form of defence
that I've got to be really careful of.
That kicking her leg against her abdomen,
sending hairs up into the air...
..if those get into your eyes or nose, the back of your throat,
it can be very irritating and itchy
and it's actually the spider's primary method
of getting rid of an attacker,
despite the fact that it has gigantic fangs.
She's got fangs that are about as long as a cheetah's claws
and a good deal sharper.
She could give me a really, really nasty bite,
so I just want to be ever so careful.
This is the Goliath bird-eating spider.
Goliath was a giant in the Bible
and this is a giant among spiders.
Now, although they certainly are capable of it,
birds don't actually form a large part of their diet.
Most of what they'll eat
are rats and mice,
lizards and crickets, invertebrates.
But really they will take almost anything
that's unlucky enough to wander past their burrow.
Look at the size of her!
And I can feel those hairs that she kicked up into the air
in the back of my throat and I want to cough,
but it's not really a good time to cough
with THAT on your hands.
As she relaxes, she decides to go for a wander,
and though it's still a little nervy,
I think I've earned this spider's trust.
They really are very, very impressive.
Look at that, as she comes over the top of my finger.
It's something that never ceases to amaze me.
This is an invertebrate - this animal doesn't have a backbone.
It's brain is absolutely tiny,
but every single one of these spiders has their own personality.
Some of them are incredibly easy to handle.
Others will bite almost instantly.
Some of them will wander over your hand quite happily.
Others of them, you really think that, you know, it's quite edgy,
and any second, they could sink their fangs into you.
This one here
is kind of in the middle.
She's been kicking hairs quite frantically
and I don't know...
I think I'm probably quite close to getting a bite,
which is why I'm sweating so much.
The Goliath bird-eating spider, one of the true giants of the Amazon
and an absolute cert for the Deadly 60.
The biggest spider in the world.
A monster that doesn't only eat
crickets and cockroaches
but mice, frogs, lizards,
and, yes, even birds.
The Goliath bird-eating spider.
This is a particularly spectacular piece of forest
with loads of cliff faces, waterfalls...
and caves. And the caves are the whole reason that we've come here.
We're heading into these deep, dark caves
because we're hoping to find a creature whose very name
is enough to send a shiver down your spine.
The vampire bat.
During the day, these true vampires hide from the light
in dark places like this, huddled together,
waiting for the night, when they're unleashed to hunt.
Caves like this one are full of harmful airborne diseases,
which explains why we're wearing these masks.
There's an awful lot of life in here.
Whip spider here.
Our first bat hangs alone on the cave wall.
This is a long-nosed bat.
Caves like this are a perfect place
for bats to spend the day.
The temperature in here is completely constant,
they're quite safe from predators,
but this one is just a bit cute.
Not a vampire.
But where there's one bat, there's sure to be many more.
Our next animal encounter is one you might not expect in a cave.
Look at that.
Ah! Come back.
Really trying to get a piece of me.
This is just a freshwater crab
that's been swept or moved into the cave.
It's not actually a specialist cave crab.
He'd give me quite a nasty pinch, actually.
I don't want to seem a complete wuss,
but quite possibly draw blood
and the animal we're looking for in here does more than enough of that.
This is undoubtedly the most famous bat in the world.
This is the only one that will actually suck the blood of mammals.
However, how it does it is so grotesque that I can understand
all the amazing vampire myths.
This creature, at night time, will fly out, through the forests
and try and find a warm-blooded animal that's sleeping.
Vampire bats are found through much of Latin America
and are universally feared and hated
and this unfortunate seal is about to find out why.
It'll land nearby, crawl over on its elbows,
which in itself is one of the most macabre things you've ever seen,
and then actually shave away a patch of fur or hair
of the animal it's going to feed on.
It then uses those incredible long teeth,
which are absolutely, disproportionately huge.
It then takes a bite...
..and starts to lap up the blood from their host animal.
'As we continue deeper into the cave on our vampire search,
'it's worth noting that Rich, our sound man,
-'is scared of the dark...'
-I don't want to go up there.
'..hates small spaces and, like so many people, is terrified of bats.
'This place is his living nightmare.'
-Is there enough room for all of us up there?
Watch out, Rich!
It's happened to you again, mate.
They know you're scared of them, that's why.
They can smell your fear.
'So while Rich shakes in terror,
'we might have accidentally found our first vampire bat.
'And a few hundred metres down the cave,
'we find signs that they're here in huge numbers.'
Look at this.
Can you see loads of hopping, jumping insects?
That's because all this brown ground is droppings
from the bats, which are living up there.
'But are they the infamous vampire bat
'that we've come here to look for?'
Going to see if I can get one down and get you a closer look at one.
Got that net for me, Dudu?
On the wing, they're impossible to tell apart.
I need to catch one.
Well, he's spooky, but he's not our vampire.
This is actually a leaf-nosed bat. Just check out those teeth!
You wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of a bite
from one of these bad boys.
We keep on looking, but have no luck.
So it's unfinished business as far as the vampire bat is concerned.
Feels nice to be outside after that horror.
We're coming to the end of our time in the Amazon rainforest.
Give me a hand to get up, please.
And so far, we've found 59 of our 60 animals.
I'm leaving the last spot on the list open to chance.
As dusk falls, we hear quacking tree frogs calling.
There's one quacking right in here.
One other group of Amazonian frog could easily make our list.
They have the world's strongest natural poisons.
These beautiful, jewelled frogs
secrete the toxins on their skins to protect themselves.
As you get close, they stop singing.
The poison dart frogs never made an appearance.
The Deadly 60 luck, though, is not done yet.
Oh, my goodness! That's amazing!
We so nearly walked straight past, but a closer look revealed
one of the world's most feared, most famous, most notorious insects.
Look at that.
Oh, my goodness! And they're carrying their larvae, look!
-You got to get out of there. They will eat you alive.
Legend has it that army ants can strip a human to the bone
in less than an hour.
This busy trail in front of me
is one of the genuine wonders of the rainforest.
These are army ants, and absolutely nothing gets in their way.
At the moment, it looks like every single one of them
is carrying a little grain of rice,
but the extraordinary, mind-blowing thing about this is that, actually,
what they're carrying are basically their babies.
Every single one of those little white lumps is an ant larva.
That is just remarkable.
Army ants are always on the move.
They actually construct bivouacs
made of their own bodies, clinging together using their legs.
When they transport themselves, they need to transport their young too,
and that's what's going on in front of me on now.
I just love the way that everyone here has a job.
You have this continuously running river of workers
and then standing there, like doormen outside a nightclub,
you've got the huge, great, big, burly soldiers
just standing there with their jaws agape,
just waiting for someone to cause trouble.
These are one of the deadliest animals in these forests.
They will take anything they can overpower, absolutely anything,
from the smallest insect up to lizards, small mammals, even birds.
And they can just wipe an area of forest clean,
so they have to continually keep on the move
to find a part of forest that has anything to feed them.
And, in fact, if a column of army ants goes into a village round here,
the villagers just leave.
They leave for a couple of days, let the ants go through
the walls, the roofs, the ceilings,
taking out all of the scorpions, the centipedes, the snakes
and eating them and leaving their village clean.
THESE guys are absolute machines.
This place, all the ants have been walking up to here
in a file no more than three of four ants wide
and they're starting to cluster together
and they're actually starting to build their bivouac in front of me.
This is one of the spectacles of the natural world.
The bivouac is made entirely of ants.
Millions of legs with special hooks link together
to make paths, bridges and even the lifts within the nest.
The bivouac functions like one enormous, living city
with one common goal -
providing shelter for hundreds of thousands of little ant cocoons.
The last time I tried to film army ants,
I was sat about a metre away from the colony and I was eaten alive.
The fact that none of us have been bitten now...
I've just got bitten!
You couldn't make it up.
And cue biting ant.
Now, what I was going to say is that
the ants haven't bitten me this time because they're busy moving house.
If they were feeding, I wouldn't be able to get anywhere near them.
In terms of being able to take on prey
that's many, many times their own size
and being able to eat just about anything, there's probably nothing
on our list that compares to the army ant.
They're absolutely unstoppable,
and I think they're a fitting end to the Deadly 60.
Alone, an ant has super strength, a painful bite and a venomous sting.
But an army of them,
a column of soldiers that can really clean up,
army ants are unstoppable
and undoubtedly on the Deadly 60.
That's it, we've done it.
60 deadly animals from six continents.
The adventure of a lifetime
and some of the most extraordinary creatures in the world.
From tiny ticks to huge hippos,
from turbo-charged critters to lethal beauties.
Every one of these animals...
..deserves its place on my Deadly 60 list.
Shark! Great white shark!
But that doesn't mean there aren't more animals out there left to find.
Oh, my life! I don't believe it!
The redback spider. The alligator snapping turtle.
The reticulated python.
Definitely going on my Deadly 60.
But do you know what?
We've not even scratched the surface.
There are so many more wild wonders left to find.
Join me next time for more deadly animal encounters.
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