WHICH ANIMALS LIVE IN RAINFORESTS?
Rainforest Animal Species
Which animals live in rainforests?
Even though tropical rain forests cover less than 6 percent of the earth’s surface, scientists estimate that at least half of all animal species in the world live there. In fact, there are so many millions of species of rain forest animals–mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and insects–that scientists have not been able to count them all. Thousands of rainforest species, especially insects, have yet to be discovered. So, it will undoubtedly take many decades for science to completely answer the question of “which animals live in rainforests.”
See A Map Of The World’s Tropical Rain Forests
Read More About Rainforest Primates: Monkeys, Apes And Lemurs
Of course, science is already familiar with a lot of rainforest animals and birds. Tropical rain forests are areas covered by dense, tall trees near the earth’s equator that receive 50 or more inches of rain per year. Which animals live in rainforests depends on which part of the world the rainforest is located in. Tropical rain forests are found in Central America and the northern half of South America, across Equatorial Africa, and on either side of the equator from southern Asia down through the islands of the South Pacific to the northernmost part of Australia.
Animals of the various tropical rainforests around the world evolved thousands of miles from one another, and are therefore different from continent to continent and even from forest to forest. However, because all rainforest habitats are similar in many ways, many of the species in them are also similar to species from far away. For instance, all rainforests boast breathtaking numbers of bird species, and the bird species of most tropical rainforests include parrots. Among the many Central and South American rain forest parrots are the many species of huge macaws; African rainforests are home to parrots including the African grey, which is famous for its ability to mimic sounds, including human speech. Cockatoos and cockatiels live in Asian, South Pacific Island and Australian rainforests.
Which animals live in rainforests? Usually there is a species or two of large cat serving as the top predator. In the tropical rainforests of Central and South America, that ecological niche is occupied by the jaguar and the cougar. African rainforests are ruled by leopards. In Southern Asian rainforests, tigers and leopards are the apex predators.
Most tropical rainforest habitats are home to a number of primate species, from the myriad monkeys (spider monkeys and howler monkeys, for example) of Central and South America to the monkeys, baboons and great apes (chimpanzees, bonobos and gorillas) of Africa to the monkeys and apes (gibbons and orangutans) of Southern Asia.
Among rain forest reptiles, the pythons of Africa and Asia have their New World counterpart in the anaconda of the Amazon jungle. Poisonous snakes abound in all tropical rain forests–bushmasters and coral snakes in South and Central America and cobras in Africa and Asia, to name just a handful–and you’ll always find a few crocodilians, from the alligators and caimans of the Americas to the many crocodile species of Africa and Asia.
It should be clear by now that “which animals live in rainforests?” is not an easy question to answer. But it is a fascinating question, as well as one that will keep probably biologists busy for the next hundred years.