Animals

Tropical rainforests are home to half of all the plant and animal species on Earth. Scientists believe that there is such a great diversity of animals in tropical rainforests because they are one of the oldest ecosystems on earth. Some forests in Southeast Asia have been around for at least 100 million years, ever since dinosaurs roamed the earth. Animals in the tropical rainforest are specially adapted to live in this unique environment. Common characteristics found among mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians, include adaptations to living a life in the trees. One example is New World monkeys that have prehensile tails that curl around branches allowing the monkey to hold onto the tree with its tail! Other animals are brightly colored, sharply patterned, have loud vocalizations, and like to eat lots of fruit. Most of the animals in the tropical rainforest live in the canopy. There is so much food available up there that some animals never go down to explore the forest floor! Birds are important to rainforests because they like to eat seeds and fruit. Their droppings grow into new plants and help rainforests to survive. In turn, tropical rainforests are important to birds because they provide winter grounds as migratory destination. Parrots are not the only type bird you will see in the rainforest. In fact, about 27% of the bird species in the world live in tropical rainforests. Insects make up the largest single group of animals that live in tropical forests. They include bright beautiful butterflies, menacing mosquitoes, camouflaged stick insects, and colossal colonies of ants.

In temperate rainforests you’ll find a different set of amazing animals. Most of these animals live on, or near the forest floor where they are protected from the wind and rain from the trees above. Many birds and small mammals, like chipmunks, like to eat seeds that fall on the forest floor. Lots of insects that live in the temperate rainforest. Most of them live in tree bark, decomposing dead plant matter, or mossy areas. Birds and amphibians like to eat these insects. Some mammals in the temperate rainforest include deer, bobcats. Cougars and bobcats are the top predators in this biome.