What Animals Live in the North American Rainforest?

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What Animals Live in the North American Rainforest?
Black bears are one of the top predators in North American temperate rainforests. (The Bear goes where the Bear wants to go image by Ian Shorr from Fotolia.com)

The rainforests in North America are of two types, temperate and tropical. The temperate rainforests consist predominantly of coniferous or broad-leafed trees, and are located along the Pacific coast from Kodiak Island in Canada to Northern California (the largest temperate rainforest zone on Earth), and in the Eastern United States, in the southern parts of the Appalachian Mountains. Mexico has tropical rainforest.

Primary Temperate Consumers

The University of Wisconsin defines primary consumers are those animals that provide the base of the non-vegetative food chain, getting their energy from eating plants. Thus, they are herbivorous, eating plants, seeds, and fruits, and they, in turn, provide food for other animals. They include small mammals such as rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels and rodents, larger plant grazers such as Sitka deer and elk, the largest species of deer in the world, as well as a large variety of insects and birds. Perhaps the most important primary consumer is the salmon, which migrates from the ocean into the rainforest rivers and streams to breed.

Secondary Temperate Consumers

Secondary consumers feed on primary consumers and, sometimes, are themselves eaten by animals further up the food chain. In the temperate rainforests of North America, secondary consumers comprise insects, amphibians and mollusks, including the banana slug---which, at up to 10 inches in length, is, according to Earlham College, the second largest slug in the world. This category also includes carnivorous mammals such as weasels and raccoons, and predatory birds such as the spotted owl and the bald eagle.

Tertiary Temperate Consumers

Tertiary consumers are those animals at the top of the food chain, which prey on those on the primary and secondary consumers. In the North American rainforests, the tertiary predators are, according to the World Builders website, wolves, cougars, lynx and bears, both black and grizzly. All prey primarily on deer and small mammals, although grizzly bears supplement their diet with migratory salmon that swim through their territories.

Primary Tropical Consumers

As in the temperate rainforest, the primary consumers of the tropical rainforest are predominantly insects, birds, fish and small mammals. These include the coypu, a rodent that resembles a cross between a rat and a beaver, and the white-tailed deer, a shy herbivorous animal about 3 feet tall.

Secondary Tropical Consumers

In the Mexican tropical rainforest, secondary consumers comprise mammals, birds and insects. Sloths are slow-metabolising creatures that eat plant life and insects but can be prey due to their slow movement. The harpy eagle is one consumer that preys on the sloth, while various spider species, including the tarantula, prey on smaller animals in the undergrowth.

Tertiary Tropical Consumers

Tertiary consumers in the Mexican rainforest are adapted to the denser vegetation that typifies the tropical rainforest, compared with the temperate. They tend to use ambush techniques and camouflage. The top reptile is the caiman, which can reach lengths of 7 feet, while one of the world's larger snakes, the boa constrictor, can weigh 27.2kg. The apex tertiary consumer is, however, the jaguar, which will attack even the largest snake.

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