The most abundant creatures in the rainforest are insects. To avoid predators, many of these insects have developed camouflage. One example is the Leafhopper which looks like thorns. Walking sticks, katydids, and moths resemble twigs, leaves, or bark. When the dead leaf camouflage that the butterfly uses does not work, they use a startling mechanism. Sometimes when a predator gets too close, the butterfly opens and flashes its bright color topped wings. Hopefully, this action startles the predator enough that the butterfly has time to escape.
Usually, poisonous animals and insects also display bright colors, to warn predators that they are deadly when eaten. The poison arrow frog has bright red, yellow, or blue colored skin that intimidates most animals. Heliconid butterflies have brightly colored wings and a bitter taste to remind birds not to eat them.
Predators also use camouflage so they can sneak up on their prey. The clouded leopard’s coat has black spots so it can hide in the shadows. The fer-de-lance snake is easily hidden in decaying leaves with its mottled, brown skin. The matamata, which resembles a turtle, can snatch up fish with its leaf-like shape and appearance.
Camouflaged animals are not always 100 percent safe from predators. Antbirds have an eye and an appetite for stationary, camouflaged, or hard to find insects. These birds follow army ant lines. They do not eat the ants, but use the ants to find their food. They just wait to see what insects move out of the army ants way. When a camouflaged insect moves it becomes visible to the bird and the bird eats it.
Many animals live in the treetops. Sloths, sun bears, giant squirrels, lemurs, tropical porcupines, spider monkeys, pangolins, sifakas, tarsiers, indris, gibbons, anteaters, and many more animals take advantage of life in the trees. Most of the rainforests food can be found here.
Leaves are an easy food to find in the treetops. However, leaves, which are made of cellulose, are hard to digest for some animals. Some animals, like the colobus monkey, sloth, and other leaf eaters, have developed compounds in their stomachs to help digest cellulose. Because cellulose still takes a long time to digest, plant eaters usually move slower than meat, insect, or fruit eaters.
Many animals also dine on fruits and nectar. Fruit is available for frugivores year round in the rainforest. Nectar, which is made mostly of sugar and water, provides energy for bats, hummingbirds, bees, and wasps. Hummingbirds also eat insects for protein.
Animals, like bush babies, lemurs, and pygmy marmosets, eat sap out of trees and gum from the chicle tree. They use their sharp teeth to peel off bark.
Predators in the tropical rainforest use force, skill, traps, and poisons to kill their prey. The jaguar has a muscular body, sharp teeth, and a powerful jaw, which it uses to crush the skulls of its prey. Scorpions, spiders, and some snakes use poisons to kill their prey. The orb-weaving spider in New Guinea weaves strong enough webs to catch birds. The boa constrictor can strangle even a human to death in its muscular coils. Giant anteaters have long, sticky, 24-inch (60 centimeter) barbed tongues to get termites out of narrow termite nests.
Decomposers do the dirty work in the tropical rainforest. Without decomposers, the forest floor would be piled high with fallen tree branches, leaves, and other organic litter that has not decomposed. Decomposers include earthworms, fungi, termites, and bacteria. With termites eating wood, and fungi, earthworms, bacteria, and protozoans working together to decompose other plant matter, within six weeks all rainforest litter will be decomposed. The decomposers in the tropical rainforest are faster than those in any other biome.
The rainforest biome is special because of the amount of life it holds. Half of all the worlds plants and animals live there. Trunks of trees are known to hold forty-three species of ants in the rainforest. Every day, scientists are finding new plants and animals in the tropical rainforest. Many believe that the rainforests diversity is because of its close location to the equator. It is common knowledge that the further a location gets from the equator, the less plant and animal species it contains. The tropical rainforest also receives the most solar energy in the world. This is because the equator is the closest point on the earth to the sun. Sun rays hit the equator straight on, rather than on an angle, because of the earth's curve, like in most places. The more solar energy a place has, the more photosynthesis and growth in plants occurs, allowing animals to have a continuous supply of food. The regularity in temperature is also an influence. Animals never have to adapt to the seasons. These animals were given the chance to adapt in ways that were not possible in any other biome. Water also makes the diversity possible.