Tropical rainforests occur on land masses in or near the equatorial regions of the world. Both the warm climate and the prodigious rainfall contribute to a diversity of plant life in the form of trees, shrubs, vines and herbaceous or non-woody plants. Animal life--whether in the tropics or in other regions--is, of course, directly dependent upon plants. Many animals in the tropical rainforests are herbivores, meaning they feed directly on plants. Others are carnivores and feed upon the herbivores. Although many are unfortunately threatened or endangered and reduced in number, there remains a large diversity of animals in the world's tropical rainforests.
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The jaguar, one of the world's big cats, is native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. A unique characteristic of the jaguar among cats is its bite. The jaguar, a carnivore like all cats, has a habit of biting into the skull of its larger prey, a deer for example, and penetrating into the animal's brain with its large canine teeth to make the kill.
Peccaries, although in a different family from pigs, are related to them and are pig-like in appearance. They occur in the Central and South American tropical rainforests. Peccaries are omnivores or generalists when it comes to their eating habits although they tend to prefer plant materials like fruits and roots rather than animal food sources.
The spider monkey is a small primate native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. It has what biologists call a prehensile tail, which means it can grasp tree branches with its tail practically as well as with its hands and feet. The spider monkey is an adroit climber and uses this ability to reach fruits and other foods, like birds' eggs, high in the treetops and to escape predators.
The lowland tropical rainforests of Africa are home to a much larger primate than the little spider monkey of Central and South America. The gorilla, in comparison to the spider monkey, is a larger, stockier animal. Also, the gorilla is not a tree-dweller and does not have a tail. Gorillas spend their time on the ground and walk on all fours, using the knuckles of the hands for walking.
African Fish Eagle
In the tropical rainforests of Africa a large bird, the African fish eagle, hunts its quarry from above and dives down to the water for it. As the name indicates, the African fish eagle preys on fish. This powerful, white-headed bird hunts the waterways of the Congo's tropical rainforests. It catches a fish in its talons and carries it to a nearby a perch to eat.
Anacondas are large snakes native to the tropical rainforests of South America. The so-called green anaconda is purported to be the largest snake species in the world in terms of its overall size and weight. Anacondas are in the boa family and are constrictors. Constricting snakes kill their prey by wrapping their bodies around the prey animal and squeezing more and more tightly until the animal can no longer breathe. The anaconda's prey includes peccaries and deer.
Poison Dart Frog
The poison dart frog is not one animal but a whole family with more than 100 species native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. These frogs are spectacular in their vivid colours and colour patterns. Their striking colouration is directly related to the toxins in their skin. The colours serve as warnings to would-be predators, thereby sparing the frogs from becoming a meal.
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