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40 Rainforest Animals

Tropical rainforest animals make up a huge number of the world’s many species—up to half, according to some scientists. If you count insects (they’re animals too!), over 100,000 species live in the Amazon rainforest alone. So many animals live in the rainforest, in fact, that scientists haven’t come close to counting them all. Instead, they make educated guesses based on small studies, and their estimates are big—up to 50 million species total!


Jaguar resting on a tree in rainforest

Mammals, including some very well-known creatures, live in tropical rainforests all over the world. The Amazon basin holds over 400 species of mammals, and so does the Congo River Basin in Africa. The tropical rainforests of Asia, which range from India and Sri Lanka to the islands of Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia, hold hundreds of mammal species as well. 

Mammals that live in the rainforest include:

  • Jaguars
  • Sloths
  • Okapi
  • Gorillas
  • Capybara
  • Elephants
  • Orangutans
  • Tigers
  • Chimpanzees
  • Monkeys
  • Anteaters
  • Antelope
  • Bonobos
  • Leopards
  • Kangaroos
  • Lemurs
  • Ocelots
  • Rhinoceroses
  • Pangolins

Although mammals are among the more well-studied groups of rainforest animals, scientists are still discovering new species!


Blue poison dart frog on leaf

Scientists estimate more than 10% of the world’s amphibians live in tropical rainforests. Most of them are frogs, although toads and caecilians (legless, wormlike amphibians) live in tropical rainforests too. And there are a lot of those frogs! Some of them have poisonous skin to protect them, some are so big they can eat small mammals or birds, and some use dazzling displays of color to confuse predators. Rainforest frogs tend to prefer life on the forest floor or in the trees, where they are close to sources of water that can keep their skin moist.

The world’s rainforest amphibians include:

  • Poison dart frogs
  • Glass frogs
  • Golden poison frogs
  • Red-eyed tree frogs
  • Goliath frogs
  • Giant cane toads
  • Aquatic caecilians (sometimes called rubber eels)
  • Amazon milk frogs
  • White-lipped tree frogs


A toucan in a rainforest

Squawking, raucous, brightly colored, and beautiful, birds can be found in all four layers of tropical rainforests. There are over 1,000 species in the Amazon alone! They soar through the emergent layer, nest in the canopy layer, feed on fruit and insects in the understory layer, and hunt for insects on the forest floor.

Because of the rainforest’s dense foliage, it can be difficult to spot birds there even if they have bright feathers. Birdwatchers tend to hear a bird first and then work hard to see it. Scientists must use platforms, catwalks, and observation towers to get a glimpse of birds they’d never spot from the ground—and when they do, it’s memorable. Some of the world’s most strikingly beautiful birds live in the rainforest, including:

  • Toucans
  • Harpy eagles
  • Macaws
  • Parrots
  • Tanagers
  • Hummingbirds
  • Parakeets
  • Hoatzins
  • Cassowaries
  • Crowned eagles
  • Cockatoos
  • Birds of paradise

Learn More

The animals of the tropical rainforest also include well-known reptiles like the anaconda and chameleon, as well as a whole host of arthropods (insects) like tarantulas and leaf-cutter ants. There’s even one ant species in South America that tastes like lemons!

Did you know that not all the rainforests in the world are tropical? There are temperate rainforests in Asia, Africa, Europe, Oceania, North America, and South America that have cooler weather than tropical ones do—and lots more animals to discover!

To celebrate the incredible animals that live in the tropical rainforest, try our Macaw Paper Plate Rainforest Craft, printable Amazon animals activities, and rainforest activities for kids!