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Learn about Rainforest Animals

Posted on 8th Feb 2011 | In Animals

 

Have you ever gone on a hiking trip in a forest?

A forest has a variety of plants and animals not seen in your usual neighborhood. However, a temperate rainforest is different from a tropical rainforest. A temperate rainforest serves as a habitat for plants and animals that can stand colder temperatures whereas a tropical one serves as a home for plants and animals that need warmer temperatures for survival.

What is a rainforest?

A rainforest is defined as a forest that experiences high rainfall. In meteorology, which is the study of weather, high rainfall is defined as 68 to 78 inches (1750-2000mm) of rainfall annually. Rainforests are homes to various organisms. It is said that rainforests contain about 40-75% of all living species of the world. If you want to know what the rainforest animals are and what they look like, download our Rainforest Animals Worksheet 1. This contains illustrations of various rainforest animals.

What is the difference between a tropical and a temperate rainforest?

A tropical rainforest is located in the tropics. You can look at the globe or a map of the earth to locate where the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn are. Countries, which are between these lines are called tropical countries and these have a lot of tropical rainforests. Tropical rainforests can be found in Myanmar, Indonesia, the Philippines, Congo, Central America, South America and some Pacific Islands.

A temperate rainforest is found in the temperate regions. Examples of locations of temperate rainforests include the British Columbia Coast, the coastal areas of Scotland, Ireland and Southern Norway, China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and Australia.

What are rainforest animals?

Rainforest animals are simply animals that inhabit the rainforest. Animals in rainforests include insects and arachnids (spiders), worms, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. A tropical rainforest can be divided into four main layers, which different kinds of animals inhabit.

  • Emergent Layer: This is the uppermost layer of the rainforest. It has very tall trees that have grown beyond the canopy. These trees are typically 45 to 55 meters tall. These trees have to be able to endure hot temperatures (since they are relatively closer to the sun) and resist strong winds (since there is nothing to shield them). Rainforest animals like bats, butterflies and eagles live in this layer.
  • Canopy Layer: This layer consists mostly of large trees that are about 30-45 meters tall. It is believed that this layer has the most number of species or has the most biodiversity. Because of its great biodiversity, it is of deep interest to scientists. The science of gaining access to the canopy layer using aerial technologies like airships is called “dendronautics”. Aside from the obvious advantage of having a constant supply of food from trees, animals prefer the canopy for shelter and for avoiding predators. There are various insects, reptiles, amphibians, birds and mammals that live in the canopy. One such bird is the toucan, which has a big but lightweight bill. It uses the bill to reach fruits that are located on small branches that cannot support the bird’s weight. Examples of mammals include the sloth and the lightweight monkeys.
  • Understory Layer: This is the layer beneath the canopy and above the forest floor. It also houses insects, birds, lizards, mammals and snakes. What is very distinct about this layer is that it has many predators. These predators include large cats like jaguars and leopards and large reptiles like boa constrictors, anaconda and alligators. This layer only receives 5% of sunlight. However, this amount of sunlight is enough to provide the requirements that seedlings need for growth.
  • Forest Floor: This layer is the bottom-most part. Because only a very small amount (2%) of sunlight penetrates this layer, it is clear of plants unless it is near a water source like a spring, a river or a swamp. Many decomposers like fungi and worms live in this layer.

What is the world’s greatest rainforest?

The Amazon rainforest is considered to be the greatest rainforest because of its size and biodiversity. This rainforest has an area of about 1.2 billion acres or 2.5 million square miles. Of the remaining rainforests on earth, the Amazon consists 54% in terms of total area. Some of the unique animals that live in the Amazon include the poison arrow frog, the black caiman (a crocodile), the piranha (a fish), the anaconda (the biggest snake in the whole world), the macaw (a colorful bird), the sloth (a mammal), the gorilla and the orangutan (apes) and many other animals.

If you want to start having some real fun with rainforest animals, download our rainforest animals coloring pages to bring them to life right at home!

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Elva O'Sullivan Ph.D is an educator and founder of ScienceWithMe.com She has created over 50 educational science products for the marketplace. To learn more about her and ScienceWithMe!® follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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