Animals in the Tropical Rainforest Ecosystem

By Skip Davis; Updated April 24, 2017
Piranhas dwell in the rivers of the Amazon Rainforest.

The warm climate and wet environment that defines a tropical rainforest ecosystem serves as a suitable habitat for a good deal of wildlife. Many of the land-dwelling animals in rainforests are able to climb to high levels of the forest's trees. The waters in this region remain warm throughout the year, which accommodates a certain group of fish and reptile species. Some of the world's rainforests areas include Southeast Asia and South America's Amazon region.

Birds

Hyacinth macaws, or Anodorhynchus hyacinthus, are blue-feathered birds from the Parrot family, according to the Minnesota Zoo. When fully mature, these birds grow between 3 to 4 feet in length. Their native countries include Bolivia and Brazil. Most hyacinth macaws are found in the upper levels of trees in the swamps and rainforests.

Known for their colorful beaks, toucans, from the family Ramphastidae, are found in the rainforest areas of Central America and South America, the San Diego Zoo notes. The largest subspecies of this black-feathered bird is the toco toucan, which has a length of approximately 2 feet. Toucans' bills are used to intimidate predators and reach for food.

Mammals

Found in the rainforests of Southeast Asia, the Malayan sun bear, or Helarctos malayanus, has black hair except for its chest area, which features golden hair. Malayan sun bears are arboreal creatures, meaning they spend much of their time in trees. According to the Harapan Rainforest website, these bears are endangered due to habitat loss.

According to the Rainforest Alliance, capybaras, or Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris, are the largest rodents in the world. Adult capybaras can weigh over 100 pounds and grow up to 4 feet in length. This rodent is found in rainforests in Central American and South American countries, including Panama, Colombia and Brazil.

Reptiles

The African Slender-Snouted Crocodile, or Crocodylus cataphractus, dwells in the rainforest areas of western and central African countries such as Senegal, Tanzania and Zaire. Adult slender-snouted crocodiles grow as long as 13 feet. These crocodiles have long, slender jaws and spend most of their time swimming in rivers.

Among the largest snakes in the world are anacondas, from the genus Eunectes. Some anacondas grow over 37 feet long. Skin characteristics include green and brown scales with black spots. Anacondas are not venomous, but are constrictors. This means they squeeze their prey until they die and then feed on their victims.

Fish

Piranhas, from the family Characidae, are small fish, approximately 6 to 18 inches in length, but posses sharp teeth, according to the National Aquarium. These omnivorous fish prey on other wildlife species in the Amazon Rainforest, but they also consume vegetation and berries. Piranhas hunt for prey in groups, or shoals.

The largest catfish in the world, according to Animal Planet, is the piraiba, or Brachyplatystoma filamentosum. This catfish species grows up to 9 feet in length and weighs over 450 pounds. Piraibas are bottom dwellers in the Amazon River and scavenge on dead animals at the bottom of the river. A piraiba's mouth opens up 16 inches in diameter.

About the Author

Skip Davis has been writing professionally since 2005. His work has appeared in "Southern Literary Magazine," on various websites and in graphic panels at the Jackson Zoological Park in Jackson, Miss. Currently living in Southern California, Davis received his Bachelor of Arts in theater at Belhaven College.