There are various types of rainforests, including cooler, temperate rainforests and tropical rainforests. Both have very green, very dense vegetation, and rain is common. However, it rains just 100 inches in temperate forests compared with 80-400 inches in tropical ones. They contain more than half of the world's animals, as well as one-fifth of the world's water, and they produce more than one-third of the world's oxygen. Despite this diversity and the medicinal opportunities offered by the plants in these forests, they now cover only 6 percent of the earth, down from 14 percent. Regardless, these forests are rich havens for wildlife, birds and other creatures.
These large, elusive creatures weigh anywhere between 150 and 300 pounds and some can grow to more than 8 feet long. These are the most powerful cats in the Western hemisphere, and they are known for being fierce, able to kill their prey with one pounce. Jaguars eat upward of 80 different animals, fish and birds, and rarely attack humans. Unfortunately, they do kill cattle and sheep and so are often under attack by ranchers. This, along with habitat loss and hunting for pelts that are coveted worldwide, has led to a significant reduction in their population. They are now considered endangered. Luckily, most countries where they roam have implemented prohibitions on selling these furs.
Poison Arrow Frog
No bigger than a man's thumbnail, the tiny poison arrow frog can be found throughout the Central and South American rainforests. These little guys produce enough poison to kill 100 humans, and were used for centuries by indigenous people to poison the tips of arrows used for hunting (hence the name). They secrete poison through their skin, so barefoot hikers beware! However, they are not that difficult to spot because they sport bright green, red and blue patterns, a trait specifically intended to warn away would-be predators. Subsequently they have few predators.
Musky Rat Kangaroo
A marsupial native to Australia's rainforests, these critters are the smallest of kangaroos, the size of a rabbit. With five toes on its hind feet and powerful hind legs, a musky rat kangaroo hops like a rabbit through the forest and is able to climb over fallen branches and trees, and it is able to dig burrows to escape predators. It lives in the rainforest's wettest areas, by creeks and rivers, and it is diurnal. Its diet consists of fruit, leaves and some insects.