Throughout the world, forests are mainly made up of underbrush and a dense growth of trees, creating a wonderful natural living habitat for many wild animals. Forests generally cover a huge landmass making the area natural eco-systems for all its inhabitants.
Many wild animals live in forests around the world. This is our list of the top 9 animals living in forests:
- The Indian tiger
- The mountain gorilla
- The brown-throated three-toed sloth
- The jaguar
- The capybara
- The scarlet macaw
- The black howler monkey
- The green anaconda
- The flying fox
The inhabitants of a forest are remarkably diverse, from indigenous people groups to animals like reptiles, mammals, and birds. Each group has learned to co-exist and live together on the land and use what they need to survive. While there are dangerous animals living in a forest, there are some that are considered tame and even friendly.
Which Animals Live In Forests?
There are a variety of animals living in forests around the world. Many animals are indigenous to the country that they are living in; for example, tigers are only found in India. Common animals can be found in various forests, generally in the same country and with a similar eco-system; for example, a deer will live in many different forested areas scattered around the same country.
Here is a list of our favorite forest-dwelling animals:
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1. The Indian Tiger
As the name states, the tiger is a resident of India. This animal is one of the largest among the wild cats, with a weight of between 400 – 600 pounds (180-260kg) for an adult male and 220 – 350 pounds (100-160kg) for an adult female.
Found throughout most of India, this big cat enjoys a variety of habitats; they live in the tropical evergreen forests, deciduous forests, thorn forests, and jungle grass. They are territorial animals, with each male controlling his own territory.
Tiger males are solitary animals and only associate with female tigers during the breeding season, which is in winter and early summer, although they do often breed throughout the year.
The female tiger can give birth to a litter of between 1 -6 cubs, with 2 -3 being the norm. Cubs remain with their mother until about the age of 2, when they move on.
Did you know: A tiger’s skin also has stripes, not only their fur!
Tigers are meat eaters and hunt down their prey between dusk and dawn. They will hunt a variety of animals, small and big – they have been known to attack elephants and rhino calves! Cattle, pigs, deer, and even rodents like porcupine are a favorite food.
2. The Mountain Gorilla
The mountain gorilla is the biggest living primate on earth and the closest living relative of humans! Found in Central Africa, these gorillas live on the mountainsides in groups of about 30, with one dominant male leader per group.
A fully grown male mountain gorilla can weigh around 30stone (180kg) and measure over 5’55’feet (170cm) tall, while the female weighs around 28stone (113kgs) and is only about 5’feet (152cm) tall – the female is much shorter than the male.
A female will only give birth to a single baby once every four years. A baby gorilla will weigh about 3 – 4 pounds (2 – 3 kg) and will be looked after by its mother until the age of 3 or 4 when it is weaned. At around 7 – 10 years, the young gorilla will leave its family group in search of a mate.
Did you know: Just as humans have fingerprints unique to each person, gorillas have nose prints that are unique to each animal!
Mountain gorillas have been known to eat ants, bark, and snails, although most of their day is spent eating leaves and shoots, which is their staple diet.
3. The Brown Throated Three-Toed Sloth
This particular sloth can be found in the rainforests of southern Central America. They are solitary animals, and it is quite rare to see two adults together in the same tree, although they do protect their territories.
They feed on leaves, fruits, and other parts of the trees, where they spend most of their day hanging from branches or sitting in the forks of the trees. They use the branches of the trees for shelter and move around to avoid the heat of the sun or to stay warm in the cold.
Male sloths fight over females, with the winner earning the right to mate with the female. A single baby is born to the mother after a gestation period lasting 5 – 8 months. The baby remains with the mother for about ten months.
Did you know: The sloth moves so slowly that algae actually grows on its back!
The sloth only grows to between 17 and 31 inches (42 – 80cm) in total body length with a weight of 18.75 pounds (8kgs). The female cannot digest food if she is cold, and she might even starve to death if she is nursing a baby.
4. The Jaguar
The jaguar is known to be the third-largest cat in the world and can be found across much of Central America. It has unique red-brown and black colorings, which help to camouflage the cat when it is in its natural forest habitat.
Large male jaguars can weigh around 300 pounds (150kgs) with a height of 30 inches (76cm) at the shoulder. The female weighs around 210 pounds (96kgs) with a height of 30 inches(75cm).
Jaguars only mate during August and September of each year. Female jaguars give birth to one to four cubs which are born blind and helpless. The cubs stay with the female for two years, being protected from other predators and even from their own father!
Did you know: The jaguar is the biggest and most powerful cat in the western hemisphere!
Jaguars are meat-eaters and will feast on a variety of animals, including mammals, birds, turtles, and even alligators! They will prey on wild animals weighing up to 660 pounds(300kgs) and can exert a powerful bite to deliver the fatal blow. As they are a top-class predator, they are not generally hunted by other animals outside of their own species.
5. The Capybara
The Capybara can be found living in the forests of South America. They can often be found close to a water source as they are very capable swimmers and use the water to evade predators by hiding under the water. They are commonly referred to as water hogs as they spend their days swimming in swamps and water holes during the warm season.
Even though a Capybara is by nature a shy, tame creature, it looks intimidating due to its size. An adult male can weigh 175 pounds (80kg)! They are friendly, sociable creatures and enjoy being around other animals.
Most Capybaras live in groups of around 10 – 20 animals. The groups consist of males, females, and a few juveniles. There is only one dominant male in the group who watches over the others and barks like a dog to warn them of impending danger.
Did you know: the capybara is the world’s largest rodent and is a close relative of the guinea pig!
The Capybara is very selective when it comes to food! While they may eat one species of plants in the dry season, they may abandon that food source during the wet season and eat only grass. Typically, they feed on aquatic plants, grass, fruit, and tree-bark. After foraging for food during the day, they return to the same spot every night to rest.
6. The Scarlet Macaw
This bird is probably the most well know parrot living in the rain forest! With their striking vibrant red, yellow, and blue feathers, these birds soar through the tropical rainforest canopy, filling the air with loud screeches, feeding on nuts and unripened fruits! They are mainly vegans and eat seeds, leaves, and fruit, but they will eat the occasional insect.
This regal bird can grow to a height of 36 inches (96cm) with an average weight of about 3lbs (1.5kgs). The wingspan on this bird is roughly 3 feet (1 meter), making it one of the biggest parrots in the family! Males and females have similar plumage, making it difficult to distinguish between them.
They are an endangered species in much of Mexico and South America due to habitat loss. They live in groups or pairs, but they only have one partner for life. Scarlet Macaws stay together throughout the year, not only during the breeding season.
Did you know: A Scarlet Macaw can live for 50 years!
The female will incubate 2 -3 eggs for around 28 days. After the chicks hatch, both parents are responsible for feeding them from 4 to 15 times a day! Chicks leave the nest after 3 – 4 months but stay close to their parents for up to a year while learning how to survive in the forest.
7. The Black Howler Monkey
The reason why this monkey has this unflattering name is that it has earned it! These monkeys live high up in the tall trees in the rain forests and howl loudly to mark their territory. It has earned the title of “the loudest land animal in the world.”
These gentle monkeys nicknamed the “baboon” are amongst the biggest monkeys of all the New World monkeys – so named due to their side opening nostrils and lack of pads on their rumps. They are indigenous to South and Central America and don’t stray far from the forest, which provides their daily food consisting mainly of leaves and the occasional piece of fruit.
A mature male is bigger than a female, weighing 32.5 pounds (14.8 kg) with a height of 26 inches (65 cms). The female weighs around 16 pounds (7,3 kgs) with a height of about 20 inches (50 cms). Both the males of the species and the females of the species are covered with a thick coat, and each has a long tail which they use for grabbing onto trees and branches.
Did you know: Male howler monkeys are black, while the females are blond!
This monkey lives in groups of about 3 – 19 animals, consisting of 1 – 3 male monkeys for every 7 – 9 female monkeys in the group. During mating season, males and females from within the same group will pair off. A female will give birth to one baby at a time and only one a year. The baby is cared for by several females in the group until the baby is weaned at about 1.5 years of age. These howler monkeys live for 20 years!
8. The Green Anaconda
The green anaconda is one of the biggest and heaviest snakes in the world, weighing in at over 550 lbs (250kgs)! While no one is completely sure of their exact sizes in the wild, there have been discoveries of snakes measuring 30 ft (9 meters) long with a girth of 12 inches (30 cms).
They live in the rivers which meander through the tropical rainforest in South America and are native to streams, wetlands, marshes, and swamps in the area. They can move virtually unnoticed through the water, despite their size.
The larger the snake, the more eggs she will produce. After a gestation period of 6 -7 months, the baby snakes, as many as 20 – 40, are born alive and are self-sufficient from birth, receiving no help from either parent.
Did you know: The female is larger than the male and will eat the male if he is not up to par for breeding purposes!
The ideal food source for this large predator is anything that comes close to the water’s edge or anything that lives in the water. Smaller mammals, reptiles, fish, and birds are common prey, but if a larger deer comes close to the edge of the water, it can become dinner for this snake!
9. The Large Flying Fox
Contrary to its name, this animal is not a fox but rather a bat, one of the largest bat species in the world. Its home is the canopy layer of the rain forests, where it uses its keen eyesight to find food. Unlike other bats in the family, the flying fox does not have an echolocation system.
Both the male and female bats have long woolly hair covering their bodies. They have short wings with a rounded tip which allows them better maneuverability when flying through the canopy. Both males and females weigh around 1kg with a length of 32cm and can live up to 30 years.
Males mate with around ten females during the mating season each year. The female flying fox will give birth to a single pup each year. The females carry their young but leave them at the roost when they look for food. The pup is weaned by about three months and is then on its own.
Did you know: When it is resting, the flying fox hangs upside down with its wings wrapped up!
Flying foxes are sociable creatures who live in colonies of thousands. They eat at night with large flocks forming feeding groups who fly to mango and banana trees to eat. They do prefer flowers and nectar and will also eat coconuts and figs.
Why Are Forests A Great Environment For Animals?
Forests are generally protected by the Government of the country that they are in, providing a safe haven for all the creatures that live in them. The air is clean, the water is fresh, and there are wide-open spaces for the animals to roam without much interference from the outside world.
The landscapes are diverse enough to cater to the needs of all animals, great and small. From a cave for a bear to hibernate in during the winter months to a ledge or a tree for a bird to nest on, these conservation environments are helping to protect our wildlife and preserve them from extinction.
The landscape of a forest changes greatly from country to country and area to area. Some forests have fertile wetlands, others have huge, towering trees, while still others can be found in a desert oasis! This versatility allows natural habitats for all the animals living in them, each with their own needs.
Thousands of miles of clean rivers and streams provide a safe area for fish to spawn and healthy fish for predators to catch and eat. The forest offers an abundance of berries, nuts, and wild-growing vegetation, providing a wide variety of healthy food for the animals.
For the bigger predators, there is a wealth of smaller animals that they can hunt and feed on. Many forest areas have more than one predatory group of animals living in the area, which helps to control the population sizes naturally. Each group has its own territory, which will be defended at all costs!
Many animals living in forests across the world are endangered because of deforestation. This means that humans are moving into the areas previously occupied by wild animals and open lands.
Forests have become protected areas where all nature can live in peace without any threat of destruction from man.
Mankind has a global responsibility to take care of these animals and protect their habitat so that these interesting animals will be around for future generations to enjoy.