Teaching Students About Rainforest Animals

What are Rainforest Animals?

Rainforest animals are creatures that have adapted to live in the rainforest. Rainforests have a unique and extreme climate, so animals in the rainforest have specially adapted to live there. It is estimated that over 50% of the animal species in the world live in rainforests.

Rainforest animals usually inhabit one of the four layers of the rainforest:

  • The emergent layer includes trees that reach the highest of all the trees in the rainforest. Animals that inhabit this layer are a collection of species of insects, bats, and birds.
  • A canopy is made of trees that reach heights of 30-46 meters. The animals in this layer include parrots, monkeys, slots, orangutans, and lemurs. Most of these rainforest animals will never need to leave this rainforest layer.
  • The understory is the layer of the rainforest that stretches between the canopy and the rainforest floor. This layer is home to many insects, snakes, and some mammals.
  • The Rainforest floor only receives about 1-2% of sunlight, which doesn’t allow many plants to grow here. This layer is also home to a variety of insects, but also some large animals. These include jaguars, elephants, tapirs, tigers, bears, armadillos, gorillas, and okapis.

10 Animals that Live in the Rainforest

While it would be impossible to list all the rainforest animals, here’s a rainforest animals list that includes some of the mammals, reptiles, and insects you’re likely to find in the world’s rainforests:


The majestic jaguar is one of the most well-known animals in the rainforest. It’s the largest of all cats in the Americas and the third-largest cat in the world. Jaguars are solitary animals that live and hunt alone. They inhabit the rainforest floor, stalking quietly through the undergrowth using their padded paws. They’re great climbers and can be found in the surrounding trees where they hunt or rest. Unlike other big cats, they enjoy being around water.


The tiger is the largest species of cat in the world. It is an apex predator and mainly feeds on large prey. In the rainforest, it prefers to eat deer, boars, monkeys, and birds. Tigers can live for up to 30 years. They are very solitary creatures, especially as they get older. They also can swim effectively, allowing them to hunt aquatic prey such as alligators and caiman. All tiger species are critically endangered due to human development, hunting, and expansion. It’s estimated that less than 4000 tigers are left in the wild today.

Scarlet Macaw

The scarlet macaw is one of the many species of rainforest parrots. They are known for their multicolored plumage, predominantly red, yellow, and blue. Macaws are intelligent, social birds that often gather in flocks of ten or more. They thrive in the rainforest’s tropical, humid atmosphere, occupying the forest’s emergent and canopy layers. Their diet consists of seeds, nuts, and insects. Sometimes they also eat clay or soft soil from riverbanks. They can live up to 40-50 years old.


Slots are incredibly slow-moving creatures. How slow exactly, do you ask? The average speed of a sloth is approximately 2-4 meters per minute. They spend up to 90% of their time hanging upside down from the tree branches in the rainforest canopy layer. A little-known fact is that they’re accomplished swimmers and can swim about 3-4 times faster than they move on land. They mainly eat leaves, but some species eat fruit, insects, and small lizards. Much like their movement, their digestion is prolonged. It can take up to a month for a sloth to digest a single leaf. Their plant-based diet is mainly responsible for their slow movement, as it’s low energy and creates a slow metabolism.


Orangutans are large, orange-colored primates, one of the most iconic rainforest habitat animals. They are brilliant and have learned how to use tools. They are famous for their ability to climb and swing through the trees. However, they spend most of their lives on the treetops rather than the jungle floor. They’re also one of the largest primates, standing at 1.5 meters tall. Their long arms make them span over 2 meters from fingertip to fingertip. Unfortunately, like many large primates, orangutans are critically endangered due to habitat loss. As more rainforests are cut down for farming and human expansion, orangutan populations continue to decrease.


These fascinating creatures are one of the largest primates on the planet. They are known for walking around on their knuckles, incredible strength, and similarity to humans. Adult gorillas can weigh up to 300 kilograms and measure 6 feet in height. Gorillas are found in the rainforests of Central Africa. They live in groups which are called troops. These troops typically consist of one adult male, several females, and their offspring. Gorillas are very social creatures with a high level of intelligence. They can use tools, communicate with vocalizations and, even in rare instances, learn sign language. Unfortunately, like many rainforest habitat animals, gorillas are endangered due to human expansion and poaching.


The chimpanzee is one of the most social primates. Living in large communities of anywhere between 20 and 150 members, each chimpanzee has a different role and position within its group. They also have fantastic communication abilities. Chimpanzees use facial expressions, postures, and sounds to communicate with community members. They’re also brilliant and can remember things, use tools and share knowledge between generations. With their high intelligence and social nature, chimpanzees rely on cooperation to live, hunt, and protect each other from predators. Chimpanzees are an endangered species. They are popular exotic pets and are frequently poached for sale on the black market. Also, like other rainforest habitat animals, they are constantly at risk due to habitat loss due to human expansion.

Emerald Tree Boa

This non-venomous snake is found in the Amazon rainforest. These emerald-green snakes inhabit the canopy and the understudy of the rainforest. They only descend to the ground to climb a different tree. These snakes can move swiftly from tree to tree. They can often be coiled around branches with their heads resting in the middle of the coil. They usually sleep on branches overhanging bodies of water. Emerald tree boas are predatory animals and mainly feed on small mammals.


The capybara is the largest rodent on earth. Standing up to two feet tall and weighing as much as 70 kilograms, this curious critter is one of the fascinating creatures of the rainforest. Capybaras are fantastic swimmers and can hold their breath for up to five minutes. They use this unique ability to hide from predators such as jaguars, pumas, and caiman. Capybaras have teeth that grow constantly. To ensure they don’t get too long, capybaras frequently graze to wear them down. They are also very social animals, living in groups of up to 20 capybaras at a time. However, their social nature is not limited to their species. Capybaras are known to coexist peacefully with a variety of different species. They even let birds sit on their backs to eat insects in their fur.

Red Panda

The red panda is a mammal that lives in rainforests and temperate forests. The red panda is a nocturnal species and is most active under darkness. Like other pandas, the red pandas’ favorite food is bamboo. It eats up to 5 kilograms of bamboo each day. However, bamboo is very low in nutrients, so the red panda spends most of the day eating to stay alive. The red panda is an endangered species as a result of human expansion. Much of their habitat is being lost each year due to farming and the development of settlements.

Red-Eyed Tree Frog

The Red-Eyed Tree Frog is one of the many frogs and other amphibians living in the rainforest. These frogs are known for their huge, bright red eyes. Scientists believe this feature is a way to startle predators, giving the frogs enough time to escape. These distinctive frogs inhabit the canopy layer of the rainforest, often hiding inside bromeliad plants. They usually attach themselves to the underside of leaves, resting during the day, where they hide while hunting to ambush their prey with their long sticky tongues. They mainly eat insects such as moths, crickets, flies, and grasshoppers.

Why are there so many animals that live in the rainforest?

Although they cover just a tiny part of the Earth, approximately 2% of rainforests have the world’s most diverse species. In addition, more than half of the animals in the world live in rainforests. But why do these creatures love the rainforests so much?

Here are three important reasons:

    • Mild Climate

The rainforests are located in areas with tropical and temperate climates, meaning that the weather is hot all year round, and it also rains a lot. So basically, animals won’t ever have to deal with low temperatures. They can also avoid scorching temperatures because the vegetation is dense and excellent in some rainforest layers.

    • Plenty of food

Because it rains a lot, and it’s also sunny all the time, the plants grow freely. That means there are many things to eat for the herbivore. Since the rainforest gathers millions of animals, there is also a lot of food for the carnivores and omnivores.

    • Four Layers

All four layers of the rainforests offer different life conditions to these fantastic creatures. As a result, animals have more chances to find a suitable part of the rainforest to consider it home and take advantage of it.

Rainforest Animals Facts for Kids

  • The black Howler Monkeys make sounds that can be heard from 5 kilometers away
  • Slots can carry algae, cockroaches, and beetles in their fur
  • Both the male and female of potoo, the strange-looking birds, take turns incubating the egg before it hatches
  • The sloth moves at an average speed of approximately two to four meters per minute
  • Surprisingly, slots can swim about three to four times faster than moving on land.
  • Jaguars have no thread from any natural predators except for humans. Many are hunted for their fur.
  • More than 60% of the living creatures on earth are at home in the rainforests
  • The rainforest gathers millions of types of insects. They live freely because the temperature is never too low to affect them.
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