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Zoom Rainforests
Rainforest Animals
Goliath Birdwing


Rainforests are tremendously rich in animal life. Rainforests are populated with insects (like butterflies and beetles), arachnids (like spiders and ticks), worms, reptiles (like snakes and lizards), amphibians (like frogs and toads), birds (like parrots and toucans) and mammals (like sloths and jaguars).

Different animals live in different strata of the rainforest. For example, birds live in the canopy (upper leaves of the trees) and in the emergents (the tops of the tallest trees). Large animals (like jaguars) generally live on the forest floor, but others (like howler monkeys and sloths) are arboreal (living in trees). Insects are found almost everywhere.

Many species of rainforest animals are endangered and many other have gone extinct as the number of acres of rainforests on Earth decreases.

Food webAs in any food web, there are more plant-eaters than meat-eaters (and many more plants than plant-eaters). There are also more small animals than large animals. Insects are the most numerous animals in rainforests.

Although there is intense competition between animals, there is also an interdependence. When one species goes extinct, it can affect an entire chain of other species and have unpredictable consequences.


Protection from Predators
Animals are always in danger of being eaten and have developed many methods of protecting themselves from hungry animals.


A Sampling of Rainforest Animals


ALLIGATOR

Alligators are large reptiles. Primitive alligators evolved during the late Triassic period.

AMPHIBIAN

Amphibians (meaning "double life") are vertebrate animals that live in the water during their early life (breathing through gills), but usually live on land as adults (and breathe with lungs). There are three groups (orders) of amphibians: newts and salamanders; frogs and toads; and caecilians.

Anaconda

The biggest snake in the world.


ANT

Ants are social insects.


APES

Apes are primates that anatomically resemble humans. They include the gorilla, chimpanzee, bonobo, orangutan, gibbon and siamang.


ASSASSIN BUG

Assassin bugs are insects that eat other insects.


BAT

A bat is a flying mammal.


BINTURONG

A dark, furry mammal from rainforests of southeast Asia.

BIRDS

Many birds live in the canopy of rainforests. Birds have feathers and wings. Birds may be the descendants of theropod dinosaurs.


BONOBO

Bonobos are closely related to chimpanzees. They are very intelligent, peaceful primates.
butterfly

BUTTERFLIES

Butterflies are flying insects with two pairs of wings, a proboscis, and clubbed antennae. They belong to the Order Lepidoptera and the Family Rhopalocera. Many butterflies thrive in tropical rainforests.


CAIMAN

The caiman (Caiman crocodilus) is a widely distributed, medium-sized crocodilian. It is about 6.5-8 ft (2-2.5 m) long. The caiman is widely distributed in Central America and northern South America, ranging from southern Mexico to Peru and Brazil. The caiman is the most widely distributed of the New World crocodilians; it is found in almost all of the lowland wetlands and riverine habitats in its range. It prefers still, fresh water. Juveniles are yellow with black spots and bands; adults are a dull olive green with a whitish belly. These carnivores eat fish (including piranha), amphibians, reptiles and water birds, using their 72-78 teeth. Females lay about 22 eggs in late summer in soil-and-vegetation nests.

CAPYBARA

The capybara is the world's largest rodent. It has no tail and partially-webbed feet. It lives on river banks.


CASSOWARY

A huge, flightless bird from Australian rainforests. It has a helmet-like crest on its head.
tiger swallowtail larva

CATERPILLAR

A caterpillar is the larval stage of butterflies and moths. Caterpillars eat almost constantly and molt many times as they grow.


CHIMPANZEE

Chimpanzees are very intelligent mammals (primates).


CHLAMYDOSAURUS

Chlamydosaurus (meaning "caped lizard") is a rare, modern-day frilled lizard native to New Guinea and North Australia. Its frill is a 7-14 inch (18-34 cm) flap of skin that completely circles its head. It opens this brightly-colored frill to frighten enemies. Adults are over 8 inches (20 cm) long. These climbing lizards live in trees in humid forests and eat cicadas, ants, spiders and smaller lizards. It can run quadrupedally (on all four legs) and bipedally (with the front legs off the ground). Adult females lay 8 to 14 eggs per clutch in spring and summer. Classification: Class Reptilia, Order: Squamata, Family: Agamidae, Genus Chlamydosaurus, Species kingii (named by Gray in 1825).


CROCODILIAN

Crocodilians are the order of archosaurs that includes alligators, crocodiles, gavials, etc. They evolved during the late Triassic period and are a type of reptile.


CUCKOO

The cuckoo is a bird whose call sounds like its name. Many cuckoos live in rainforest canopies throughout the world.

DRAGONFLY

Dragonflies are primitive, flying insects that can hover in the air. They evolved during the Mississippian Period, about 360-325 mya. Huge dragonflies with wingspans up to 27.5 inches (70 cm) existed during the Mesozoic Era (when the dinosaurs lived).

EMERALD TREE BOA

The emerald tree boa, Corallus caninus, is a green snake with white bands. It grows to be up to 7.25 feet (2.2m) long. It lives in trees and shrubs near water (like swamps and marshes in rain forests) in the lower Amazon basin (in Brazil) and in Guyana and Suriname. This snake catches food with its long teeth then squeezes it. It eats birds and rodents. This snake is nocturnal (it is most active at night) and bears live young.


FRILLED LIZARD

Chlamydosaurus (meaning "caped lizard") is a rare, modern-day frilled lizard native to New Guinea and North Australia. Its frill is a 7-14 inch (18-34 cm) flap of skin that completely circles its head. It opens this brightly-colored frill to frighten enemies. Adults are over 8 inches (20 cm) long. These climbing lizards live in trees in humid forests and eat cicadas, ants, spiders and smaller lizards. It can run quadrupedally (on all four legs) and bipedally (with the front legs off the ground). Adult females lay 8 to 14 eggs per clutch in spring and summer. Classification: Class Reptilia, Order: Squamata, Family: Agamidae, Genus Chlamydosaurus, Species kingii (named by Gray in 1825).


FROG

Frogs are amphibians. They start out as gilled, swimming tadpoles, but grow to be air-breathing adults.


GIBBON

Gibbons are rare, small, slender, long-armed, tree-dwelling apes from Asia.
Goliath Birdwing

GOLIATH BIRDWING BUTTERFLY

The Goliath Birdwing (Ornithoptera goliath) is the second-largest butterfly in the world. This brightly-colored butterfly is poisonous and has a wingspan up to 11 inches (28 cm) wide. It has black, yellow and green wings and a yellow and black body. This butterfly in found in tropical forests in Indonesia. Family Papilionidae.


GORILLA

Gorillas are large primates from Africa. They are in danger of extinction.


GREATER APES

The great apes (family Pongidae) include the gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, and orangutans.


GREEN IGUANA

Plant-eating lizards from moist habitats.


HOWLER MONKEY

The loudest monkey and the largest New World monkey.

HUMAN BEING

A human being is a mammal (a type of primate).

INSECTS

Insects have an exoskeleton, a three-part body, and six legs. They evolved during the Silurian Period, 438 to 408 mya, long before dinosaurs existed. Insects are the most numerous animals in rainforests.


JAGUAR

The jaguar is a large, spotted wild cat from South and Central America.


JULIA

The Julia is a yellow-orange tropical butterfly from the Americas, about 3-4 inches wide. It belongs to the group of Heliconians, tropical butterflies that have a bad taste and smell, and a large head. The eggs are round. The pupa is angular. The Julia feeds on passion flowers (Passiflora). Julias are found from South and Central America to the southern USA.


KEEL BILLED TOUCAN

A rainforest bird with a huge, colorful beak.


LESSER APES

The lesser apes (family Hylobatidae) include the gibbon and siamang.


MAMMAL

Mammals are warm-blooded animals with hair. They nourish their young with milk. Mammals evolved during the Triassic period. Many mammals live in rainforests, including gorillas, sloths, jaguars, and people.


MONARCH BUTTERFLY

The Monarch (Danaus plexippus) is a common poisonous butterfly found worldwide. It eats milkweed in its larval stage and lays eggs on the poisonous milkweed plant. Monarchs have a wingspan of 3 3/8 - 4 7/8 inches (8.6 - 12.4 cm).


MONKEY

There are two types of monkeys: Old World monkeys from Asia and Africa, and New World monkeys from the Americas.
Blue Morpho Butterfly

Morpho Butterfly

The Blue Morpho is a brilliant blue butterfly from rainforests of South and Central America.


MOTH

Moths are winged insects that belong to the Order Lepidoptera. Moths have feathered antennae (not clubbed antennae, like butterflies), a frenulum or jugum, and are generally dull colored. There are over 100,000 moth species alive today.


MOUSE

Mice are tiny mammals with long tails.


OCELOT

Ocelots are wild cats from the Americas.


ORANGUTAN

Orangutans are large, tree-dwelling apes from southeast Asia.


OWL

Owls are nocturnal birds with large eyes and very good eyesight. Some owls live in rainforests.


Piranha

Piranhas are meat-eating, freshwater fish that are native to eastern South America.

PRIMATE

Primates are mammals that include monkeys, apes, lemurs (prosimians), and people. All primates have 5 fingers on each hand and 5 toes on each foot. They have color vision.


QUEEN ALEXANDRA'S BIRDWING

Queen Alexandra's Birdwing is the biggest butterfly in the world, with a wingspan up to 1 ft (30 cm) wide. The female is brown with cream spots and larger than the male. The male is brown with blue and green markings; it has a bright yellow abdomen. The caterpillar is black with red tentacles, and with a cream-colored spot in the middle of its body. This rare butterfly is found in the lowland forests of northern Papua New Guinea (east of the Owen Stanley Mountains).

QUETZAL

A quetzal is a beautiful rain forest bird with very long tail feathers.


Red-Eyed Tree Frog

A rainforest frog with bright red eyes.


Red-Eyed Tree Frog
Label Me! Printout

Label the red-eyed tree frog diagram on this printout.
Answers

REPTILE

Reptiles (meaning"to creep") are a group of animals that have scales (or modified scales), breathe air, and usually lay eggs. The term reptile is loosely defined in everyday English to mean scaly, cold-blooded, egg-laying animals. In cladistics (a way of classifying life forms), the reptiles are more strictly defined as: all the descendants of the most recent common ancestor of the turtles, lepidosaurs (lizards, snakes, tuataras), and archosaurs (crocodilians, dinosaurs, and birds). The maintenance of body temperature (cold- vs. warm-blooded) is not a factor in this classification, but skull and egg structure are.


RAT

A rat is a rodent with a long tail.


SATURN BUTTERFLY

The Saturn Butterfly (Zeuxidia amethystus) has a wingspan of about 3.9-4.3 inches (10-11cm) and lives in the shady forest understory. The female is paler than the male (above). The Saturn Butterfly is found in Malaysia, Borneo, the Philippines, Burma, and Sumatra. It was named by Butler in 1865. Classification: Family Nymphalidae (Subfamily Morphinae).


SERVAL

A long-legged African wild cat.


SIAMANG

The siamang is a rare, black, long-armed ape, a type of gibbon.

SKIPPER

Skippers (family Hesperiidae) are drab-colored, moth-like butterflies that are distinguished by the hook at the end of their antennae (instead of a club, like other butterflies have). These antennae are also farther apart at the base than other butterflies. There are about 2,000 different species of Skippers. They fly in a darting fashion (hence their name) and hold their wings in a moth-like fashion when at rest. The Australian Skipper also has a humeral lobe (a frenulum-like projection on its hind wing which holds the forewings and hind wings together during flight).


SLOTH

The sloth is a slow-moving mammal that lives in trees. Sloths spend most of their lives hanging upside-down from tree branches; they eat, sleep, mate, and give birth upside-down in the trees. They hold onto tree branches with strong, curved claws that are on each of their four feet. These plant-eaters are more active at night; they eat leaves, tender young shoots, and fruit. Sloths have a thick brown (and slightly-greenish) fur coat and are about the size of a cat (roughly 2 feet = 61 cm long). Their coloration and their slow actions make them almost disappear in the forest canopy. Some sloths have colonies of green algae encrusting their fur, both adding to the camouflage effect and providing some nutrients to the sloths, who lick the algae. These mostly-quiet mammals live in the tropical rainforests of South and Central America. Sloths may live 10-20 years in the wild. Sloths are hunted by jaguars, eagles, and man. Classification: Class Mammalia, Order Xenarthra, Family Bradypodidae and Megalonychidae.


SNAKE

A snake is a reptile with no legs. Its skin is scaly. There are many snakes in rainforests.
tiger swallowtail

SWALLOWTAIL BUTTERFLY

Swallowtail butterflies (family Papilionidae) are strong fliers with three fully developed pairs of legs. Many swallowtails have distinctive tailed wings (hence the family name). They lay spherical eggs. These butterflies are found from the tropics to more temperate regions.


TARSIER

Tarsiers are small mammals with enormous eyes.


TIGER

Tigers are large, fierce Asian cats that have stripes. They live mostly in forests in India, Sumatra, Indochina, and Siberia. Tigers are threatened with extinction due to loss of habitat.


TOAD

Toads are amphibians with poison glands. They usually have warty skin.


TOUCAN

A rainforest bird with a huge, colorful beak.

Toucan

(Simple version)
A rainforest bird with a huge, colorful beak.


TURTLE

Turtles have a protective shell on their body. They are anapsids, having no extra holes in the sides of their heads. Turtles evolved during the late Triassic period, roughly 220 million years ago, about the same time the dinosaurs and mammals evolved. Proganochelys is the oldest known turtle.

XENOPS

The Xenops is a rainforest bird from the Americas.



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