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  • RREC March 2020

    Riverside Reptiles Education Center All About Rainforests: Welcome to the Jungle

    Rainforest Animals, Page �1

  • RREC March 2020

    Background for the teacher/parent: Rainforests are forests that experience a high level of rainfall. There are two types: temperate and tropical. Temperate rainforests lie in the temperate zones (between the tropics and the polar circles) of the globe. They are found in a few regions scattered around the world such as western North America, south-eastern Australia and New Zealand. Whereas, tropical rainforests lie in the tropics (around 28 degrees north or south of the equator). They are found in many areas near the equator such as Asia, Africa, Central America and the Pacific Islands. The Amazon rainforest is the largest tropical rainforest in the world; covers over 1.4 billion acres. Rainforests used to cover 14% of the Earth’s surface but unfortunately, due to deforestation and devastating fires, they now only cover around 6%.

    Scientists believe that there may be millions of plant and insect species living in rainforests that have yet to be discovered. Over 25% of natural medicines have been discovered in there. A wide variety of animals call rainforests home, including: birds, snakes, insects, jaguars, cougars, chameleons, turtles, frogs, and many more. A number of tribes in areas such as central Africa and Brazil still live in rainforests. They have no contact with the outside world.

    The words 'jungle' and 'rainforest' are sometimes used to mean the same thing but there are some differences. For example, jungles are overgrown with wild tangles of vegetation and dense forest, and are usually found surrounding rainforests. Rainforests have thick canopies of tall trees that block out light, while jungles allow more light in, making it easier for plants to grow. The extra light creates dense areas of plants and vegetation that can be difficult to navigate. Jungles are also home to a wide range of plants and animals. Over half of the world's species live in a jungle environment. They are usually in warm places with high rainfall.

    Rainforest Animals, Page �2

  • RREC March 2020

    Tropical rainforests are divided into 4 layers called the emergent, canopy, understory and the forest floor. Insects are found in every layer.

    1. The emergent layer has lots of tall trees that grow above the canopy. They can be up to 266 feet high.

    2. The canopy zone of the rainforest contains the upper parts of the trees, an area that reaches heights of 65 to 130 feet tall.

    3. The understory layer in the rainforest is under the leaves of the trees but above the ground. It is cool and dark here.

    4. The forest floor is almost totally in darkness from all the trees; in fact only 2% of the sunlight reaches through the canopy of trees above.

    Did you know?

    • Rainforests average more than 80 inches of rain in twelve months. In the U.S. our average yearly rainfall is 28 inches.

    • The word ‘jungle’ comes from a Sanskrit word meaning ‘uncultivated land’.

    • Lions have been given the nickname “The King of the Jungle”. However, they typically live in savannah and grassland.

    • In the South American rainforests, there are over 2,000 species of butterflies.

    • The Central African forests contain over 8,000 plant species.

    Rainforest Animals, Page �3

  • RREC March 2020

    Rainforest Animals, Page �4

  • RREC March 2020

    Additional Writing Prompt Topics:

    1. If you could live in any layer of the rainforest, which layer would you choose? Why? What makes this area so special? What might you see? How would you feel there? Use details.

    2. If you were given the choice to be any animal in the rainforest, what animal would you be? Why? What would you see, hear, taste, smell, and touch? How would you get around? How would you find food? Where would your shelter be?

    3. Pretend you are a scientist studying in the rainforest and you think that you just discovered a new species, what type of animal is it? Describe it? What name would you give it? Where did you find it? How do you know it is a new species?

    Book Pairings:

    A Color of his Own, Leo Lionni

    Don’t Let Them Disappear, by Chelsea Clinton 

    Sloths Don’t Run, by Tori McGee

    Slowly, Slowly, Slowly, Said the Sloth, Eric Carle

    The Great Kapok Tree, Lynne Cherry

    Tree of Wonder: The Many Marvelous Lives of a Rainforest Tree, by Kate Messner

    Rainforest Animals, Page �5