The natural vegetation of the tropical zone varies from the rain forest regions of the lower Maracaibo Basin to the grasslands of the llanos. In the areas of insufficient rainfall are found xerophytic plants, as well as mimosa. The subtropical zone, tierra templada, was originally almost covered by a luxuriant forest, but it is now the nation's principal agricultural region. In the temperate region, only a small portion of the total land area, wild vegetation is sparse and scrubby. In the páramo region, from about 2,740 to 4,880 m (9,000 to 16,000 ft) in elevation, vegetation becomes even thinner and barely affords an existence for the few sheep and cattle raised by the local Amerindian population. Above 3,050 m (10,000 ft), the only vegetation seen is the espeletia, similar to the century plant, which grows to a height of about 1.8–2.1 m (6–7 ft).
The wild animals of Venezuela are abundant because of their relative isolation from human disturbance. The forests are populated with tapirs, sloths, anteaters, and a variety of monkeys. In the mountains are puma, margay, vampire bats, and deer. Semiwild horses, donkeys, and cattle are found in the plains. The forests are rich in tropical birds such as the cacique, crested coquette, heron, umbrella bird, manakin, cock-of-the-rock, parrot, macaw, and aigrette. Aquatic fowl include the pelican, heron, flamingo, and a muscovy duck weighing up to 9.1 kg (20 lb). More than 32 species of eagles are found in Venezuela. There are numerous reptiles, including the rattlesnake, coral snake, bushmaster, anaconda, and boa. Crocodiles are found in the lowland rivers. Fish, shellfish, tortoises, and sand tortoises are also plentiful.