11 Amazing Rainforest Animals

From slithering anacondas to fluttering blue morpho butterflies, rainforests teem with life—in fact, these precious ecosystems are home to more than half the world’s species. The Rainforest Alliance works hard to protect rainforests and the biodiversity within through the sustainable management of standing forests in tropical climates, the restoration of degraded land surrounding forests, and the protection of waterways. Here are 11 amazing rainforest species we are helping to protect with our innovative approach to conservation:

1. Blue Morpho Butterfly

With its brilliant, iridescent blue wings, the blue morpho butterfly flutters through the rainforest canopy. The many “eyespots” on its brown underside trick predators into thinking the butterfly is a large predator.

Blue morpho butterfly (Morpho peleides)

Blue morpho butterfly (Morpho peleides)

Photo credit: Stacey Lashway

2. West Indian Manatee

The gentle giant of the ocean, the West Indian manatee can be found in the warm waters of the southern United States, the Caribbean, and the northeastern shores of Brazil. These manatees can weigh up to 1,000 pounds and grow to 10 feet in length.

West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus)

West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus)

Photo credit: iStock

3. Okapi

The striking okapi—the closest living relative of the giraffe—lives in the dense tropical Ituri Forest of Central Africa. A master of camouflage, its striped hindquarters and brown hide helps it “disappear” into the filtered light of the forest.

Okapi (Okapia johnstoni)

Okapi (Okapia johnstoni)

Photo credit: iStock

4. Brown-Throated Three-Toed Sloth

The slow-moving sloth, weighing only eight or nine pounds, lives exclusively in trees, feeding on leaves, twigs, and fruit. It moves so slowly that its fur takes on a green tinge from the algae that grows on it. It can take a month to digest a single meal.

Brown-Throated Three-Toed Sloth (Bradypus variegatus)

Brown-Throated Three-Toed Sloth (Bradypus variegatus)

Photo credit: iStock

5. Capybara

Bearing a strong resemblance to its guinea pig cousin, the capybara is the largest rodent on Earth, weighing in at more than 100 pounds and standing two feet tall. It lives in the dense vegetation that surrounds water, and frequently leaps in water bodies to hide from predators. It can hold its breath for up to five minutes.

Capybara (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris)

Capybara (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris)

Photo credit: iStock

6. Scarlet Macaw

One of the most iconic rainforest species, the scarlet macaw is a striking, large parrot with bright red plumage and brilliant blue and yellow wing feathers. Its powerful beak can open hard nuts and seeds. Scarlet macaws are one of the few species that mate for life.

Scarlet macaw (Ara macao)

Scarlet macaw (Ara macao)

Photo credit: Sergio Izquierdo -- sergioizquierdo.com

7. Poison Dart Frog

One of the most brightly colored animals on the planet, the poison dart frog uses its color to warn predators of the toxic venom the lies within its skin. Indigenous cultures often use this frog’s poison to coat the tip of blow darts used for hunting.

poison dart frog on bromeliad

Poison dart frog (Dendrobates; Epibpedobate; Phyllobates)

Photo credit: iStock

8. Black Howler Monkey

The black howler monkey earns its moniker with the loud howl it uses to mark territory. These vocalizations, which sound like a strong wind blowing through a tunnel, can be heard up to two miles away. These monkeys live high up in tall rainforest trees in groups of 4 to 19.

Black Howler Monkey (Alouatta pigra)

Black Howler Monkey (Alouatta pigra)

Photo credit: Sergio Izquierdo -- sergioizquierdo.com

9. Giant Anteater

The largest of all the anteaters, the giant anteater can be found in grasslands, swamps, and humid forests from southern Belize down to northern Argentina. Its long sticky tongue can shoot out 150 times a minute, allowing it to easily eat 30,000 insects in a day.

Giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla)

Giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla)

Photo credit: iStock

10. Green Anaconda

The storied green anaconda is one of the largest snakes in the world, reaching over 30 feet in length, 12 inches in diameter, and weighing over 550 pounds. Due to its size, it is quite cumbersome on land, but it is stealthy in the water.

Green anaconda swimming underwater

Green anaconda (Eunectes murinus)

Photo credit: iStock

11. Praying Mantid

The praying mantid is a master of camouflage, blending in and mimicking the foliage around it. It uses its sharp eyesight and powerful forelegs to catch and devour prey.

Praying mantid (Stagmomantis sp.)

Praying mantid (Stagmomantis sp.)

Photo credit: iStock

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Wildlife
macaw

As forests disappear, countless species are threatened with extinction.