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Facts About Amazon Rain Forest Animals

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According to the BBC website, 10 percent of Earth's known species are found in the Amazon rain forest. Spanning 3.5 million square miles, the Amazon rain forest has four layers: emergent, canopy, understory and forest floor. Each layer is uniquely diverse and abundant in its animal species.

Emergent Layer

The emergent layer of the Amazon rain forest includes the tallest treetops in the forest, extending 200 feet above the forest floor. This layer is where animals such as birds, bats, monkeys and insects are found. These animals depend on treetops to provide them with shelter, food and protection. For example, the toucan lives in hollow and decayed trees, while the blue morpho butterfly relies on decayed flowers and fruits for food.

Canopy Layer

The canopy layer of the Amazon rain forest forms a cover, or ceiling, over the forest floor. A variety of food exists in the canopy layer, which allows for an abundance of species of animals. The types of animals found in canopy layer include birds, frogs, snakes, sloths and monkeys. Gibbon monkeys thrive on the various fruits, plants and insects the rainforest canopy has to offer. Slow-moving sloths also enjoy the fruits and plants of the canopy, as well as the protection the canopy provides them with from predators like jaguars.

Understory Layer

Blocked by the canopy layer, the understory layer of the Amazon rain forest does not see much sunlight. Plants in this layer are adapted to grow larger leaves and to grow no more than 12 feet tall. Animals such as snakes, frogs, insects, jaguars and tapirs live in this layer. Tapirs are herbivores with prehensile trunks. They take advantage of the many types of land and aquatic plants in the understory, using their trunks to grab plant matter such as twigs, buds and fruits.

Forest Floor

Very little sunlight penetrates the trees and vegetation covering the Amazon rain forest floor. Minimal plant life grows due to the lack of sunlight, and most deceased life forms decay quickly due to the high humidity. Animals such as scorpions, iguanas and army ants are found living throughout the forest floor layer. Army ants are dangerous ants who eat almost anything, from other insects to large mammals. Iguanas eat insects but prefer to climb trees to have access to plant matter such as leaves and flowers.