Animals of the Rainforest

Frosch auf einem Blatt im Regenwald (c) Brian GratwickeTropical rainforests can be found spread across east, central, and west Africa.  The forests have developed along the equator where constantly rain is falling. Over millions of years the rain has created a rich green realm that is home to an abundance of animal and plant life. Most of the remaining forests are found in the Congo river basin. Some of the tallest trees are growing here like the Kapok tree. Half of the animal species in the world live here. There are many millions of species like mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects.

The various Floors of the Rainforest

Regenwald in Kenia (c) Chris73

Like a tall building the rainforest consists of various floors such as the emergent, upper canopy, understory, and forest floor. Trees and plants are so densely packed that rain falling on the canopy can take as long as 10 minutes to reach the ground. What kind of animals live on which floor in the rainforest? The smallest und biggest animals! Among the smallest are insects, mice and rats. The branches below are habitated by snakes, apes and lizards. In the upper canopy birds have built their nests. On the very top the most beautiful butterflies live. Who do you think is the king in the tropical rain forest? Is it the chimpanzee, the frog or the snake? It is the insect, the smallest animal. There are in fact so many species of insects, that scientists have not been able to count them all!

Driver Ants


The driver ant is not your friend. Indeed, these insects, also called army ants, are one of the African rainforest's most aggressive life forms. It is feared by pythons and people alike. During the rainy season, armies of driver ants move in columns of up to 20 million across rainforest floors. The tiny insects have an enormous apetite and are pretty fast. They run at the rate of 20 meters an hour in search of prey: millipedes, spiders, beetles, but also anything that gets in their way, including reptiles and small mammals. Their favorite digest: termits. The driver ants attack the termites and bring the dead insects back to the colony for a meal. Soldier ants protect the column by standing to one side with their jaws open. A driver ant's jaws are so strong that some forest inhabitants use them to close wounds.

Apes, Gorillas and Bushbabies

Schimpansenmutter mit KindChimpanzees orchestrate the rainforest's melody. Pretty fast they move back and forth through the different hights of the trees. Almost always they move in the range between 3 and 6 meters. In this range they have escape routes. They defend their territory by their calls.  Chimpanzees are about 90 centimeters tall. But they are the most intelligent species among the primates. They have a well developed social system. They care for one another. They are very curious, and they use tool skilfully to get what they want.

Gorillas would abolish Smart Phones if they could

Gorilla (c) Raul654

Gorillas can be found in rainsforests stretching from Cameroon to Congo and Rwanda. The mountain  gorilla is an endangered animal. It lives in the mountain forests of Rwanda and on the shores of lake Kivu. Poaching and hunting have decreased the gorilla populations. There are not more than 400 gorillas left. So we have to protect them. Gorillas can grow to be as tall as 1.70 meters. They can climb trees, but are usually found on the ground. Most of the day gorillas spend on the ground, searching for leaves, stalks and plant shoots. Only at night the female jump up the trees, while the male stay on the ground, protecting the females. 

Was Tarzan raised by black Colobus Monkeys?

You remember the story about Tarzan, the guy who was raised by  monkeys and could jump from tree to tree wihtout touching the ground? His friends must have been the black colobus monkeys who are renowned for their jumping skills. They can be found throughout the rainforests between southwest Cameroon and the Congo River. They live in the forest's high canopies. Their name, colobus, derives from their lack of thumbs. Unfortunately the artists of the rainforest are Africa's ten most endangered monkeys.

Bushbabies, the Ancestors of the Apes

Galago oder Buschbaby (c) Hans HillewaertBushbabies are small primates that live in the savannas and forests of Africa. They get their name from their strange call, which sounds like a human baby crying. Bushbabies most often, live in tree hollows that provide shelter. They are active at night, so they have sensitive ears and large eyes to find their prey in the darkness. Their hearing is so excellent, that they can hear every move of an insect. Besides insects they like to eat fruit and the juices from trees. They can move quickly, leaping from branch to branch. Slow-moving lorises and pottos are related to bushbabies and creep around the forest in search of food such as fruit and other animals that are slow enough to be caught. Along with lemurs, bushbabies belong to the Old World monkeys.

The colorful Mandrills like to be loud

MandrillMandrills are the largest and most colorful of the Old World monkeys. They have thick ridges along the nose that are purple and blue, red lips and nose, and a golden beard. It almost looks like they’re not real! They live in the rainforests of west Africa and central Africa. An adult male mandrill that has the brightest and most distinctive colors on his face seems to be most attractive to females. The bright colors show up again on the mandrill’s rear end! Why? Well, those colors impress the ladies. And, they help mandrills to follow each other in thick forests. Adult females have duller colors and longer muzzles. They are also much smaller, about half the size of the adult males. They are endangoured by hunting. Because they are very loud, they can easily be found.

Did you know? Most monkeys have tails. Apes do not.

Forest Elephants

Waldelefanten im Kongobecken

African forest elephants are smaller than their cousins on the savanna. Their role in the rainforest environment is no less important, however. Trampling through the forest, elephants form trails that can be used by people or other animals. Scavenging for tree bark and vines to eat, they pull down smaller trees and branches, which lets in sunlight for the forest floor. Their love of fruit and other vegetation makes them a very efficient means of spreading seeds throughout the forest. Their relatively small bodies and ears and their softly padded feet appear to be made for moving through thick vegetation easily and quietly.

Pygmy Hippopotamus

Flusspferde im Luangwatai

The pygmy hippopotamus lives exclusively in the lowland and wet forests between Sierra Leone and CÙte d'Ivoire's Bandama River. At 5 feet-long and roughly 418 lbs., it is the smallest hippopotamus species. Unlike its larger cousins, the pygmy hippo is far less given to spending time submerged in water. A confirmed loner, it prefers to spend time alone or in small groups.

Leopards and Wildcats

Leopard auf einem Baum Clouded Leopards are only found in rainforests, scrub and mangrove swamps. It is smaller than the normal leopard and weighs 33 to 50 pounds. It has a tawny or tan coat with cloud shapes, thus the name "clouded leopard."They are solitary creatures that only spend time with others when they are mating or raising young. They are also nocturnal and spend their nights hunting instead of sleeping. Leopards spend a lot of their time in trees. Their spotted coat camouflages them, making them blend in with the leaves of the tree. They will often drag their prey into trees to keep it from being taken by other animals

Schwarzer Leopard oder Black PantherBlack panthers are leopards, the only difference is their dark color. This doesn't mean they have no spots, they're just harder to see.  Leopards are clever nighthunters. But if they are hungry they will also hunt during the day. Leopards don't need much water. They survive from the moisture they get from eating their prey. They they have something to say, they don't roar like other big cats, the bark!


Chameleons can hide everywhere in the rainforest, because they are able to adapt their color to the color of their surrounding.  


Chamäleon im Regenwald (c) Anne97432

Zweihornchamäleon (c) Lutz Schuettler 

They are some of the oldest animals on our planet. They have a good sight, but hear very bad. They have a rare ability: The can move their eyes independently from one another. Chameleons can climb high but love the swamps. Why? It is the insects! One more thing about them is special: they hunt with their tongue.

Snakes love the Rainforests

In the rainforests of Africa, the many species of cobras are among the most common, and most fea red, of venomous snakes. Africa’s rain forests, also contain a few species of highly venomous snakes called mambas—there is a black mamba, and a green mamba. The green mamba spends  most of its time in trees. Another, quite dangerous rain forest snake is the Gaboon viper.  It can become 1.5 to 1.75 meters long and is the world’s largest and heaviest viper. The Gaboon viper has the longest fangs, about 5 centimeters, which are used for injecting venom into another creature

Grüne Mamba im Regenwald von GAbun (c) David Monniaux

Schwarze Mamba (c) Bill LoveGabunviper (c) Patrick Jean

On the right you can see the green mamba, in the middle is her dark sister, the black mamba, on the right the Gabon viper is on her way to catch somthing for diner.

Frogs of the Rainforests like to be different

Rainforest frogs are the most diverse of all amphibians. They vary in color and a lot in size. Tropical rainforests contain such a high amount of different frogs because of the warm, wet environment. Frogs have highly permeable skin and require moisture so they don’t dry out.

Frösche im Regenwald (c) bio potsdamAfrikanischer Krallenfrosch (c) MuseoftheViolets

The more colorful a frog is, the more poison is in his body. The color signals predators, to prey on other frogs, because they taste bitter. Besides the fact, that they are not a healthy diet. The giant is the goliath frog that lives in the rainforest of Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. Goliath frogs grow to an impressive 32 cm with a weight of 3.3 kg. Tropical rainforest frogs are meat eaters, eating most things they can fit in their mouths. And they all lay eggs. Tree frogs have grooved disks on the tips of their fingers and toes so they can stick onto leaves.


African grey Parrot

The most talkative of the world's parrots, the African grey parrot lives in parts of equatorial Africa stretching from CÙte d'Ivoire to western Kenya and northern Angola, Congo and Tanzania. Some researchers believe that the bird gets its verbal ability from its rainforest habitat: Animals must learn how to articulate sounds distinctly and loudly to communicate through the dense vegetation. More than just a good mimic, the African grey parrot has also been found to be able to identify objects by name, color and shape. Trade in African grey parrots, one of the most popular pet birds, has been illegal since 1981.


Nashornvogel (c) Aaron Logan

Hornbills are a family of birds found in tropical Africa. They have a long, down-curved bill which is frequently brightly-coloured and sometimes has a casque on the upper mandible. The large bill assists in fighting, preening, and constructing the nest, as well as catching prey. A feature unique to the hornbills is the casque, that runs along the upper mandible. In some species it is barely perceptible and appears to serve no function. Hornbills are feeding on fruit and small animals. They are monogamous breeders nesting in natural cavities in trees and cliffs.

Butterflies, the Inhabitants on Top of the Trees


butterflyrainforestafricaThe most colorful inhabitants of the rainforests are the butterflies. They live on top of the trees, where they find the most beautiful flowers. Their scent is irresistable to the butterflies of the rainforest.