10 Rainforest Creatures That Defy Imagination
Ecorazzi’s Rainforest Editorial Series is brought to you by Hello Green Tomorrow, the Avon Product Inc. campaign to plant a future and help end deforestation.
While the rainforest only covers an estimated 6% of land, it serves as a home to over half of the species of plants and animals on earth. We read about many species that inhabit the rainforest everyday like gorillas, orangutans and parrots but there are millions that most people have never even heard about. And many of those species are truly remarkable.
Check out this list of ten rainforest animals that defy imagination. Think we missed any of the strange, beautiful or bizarre? Leave your favorite rainforest creature in the comments.
1. Glass Frog
This little guy gets his name from his translucent abdomen. While this class of frogs is primarily lime green, their bellies, and on some even their backs, are see-through so that their heart, intestines and liver are visible through the thin clear skin. While hanging out in the forest, their unique skin gives them the useful ability to blend right into the leaves.
There are 134 species of glass frogs, all between 1.4 and 3 centimeters, and of that number, 60 are considered threatened. They can be found in rainforests in Central and South America.
2. The Pink Dolphin
The Pink Dolphin, also known as the Amazonian River Dolphin, is a fresh water creature that navigates its way through river systems in South America. Unlike its more commonly known relatives, the Pink Dolphin has a hump on its back instead of a fin, a lump on its head and the ability to turn its head from side to side. And did we mention it’s pink?
Depending on the clarity of the water, this species can range in color from a faint pink to a bright flamingo pink. The sun bleaches the pigmentation so the deepest colored dolphins can be found in murky waters where the sun can’t penetrate too far in.
3. Satanic Leaf Tailed Gecko
Based on its name you’d think its native habitat was in Dante’s inner most circle of hell, but this gecko is actually native to Madagascar. The devilish appearance with their crooked bodies, hard edges and veiny skin helps them blend into their surroundings. The small chunks that appear to be missing from their tails helps them mimic decaying leaves.
This species is very sensitive to change so any sort of disturbance in their natural habitat is a threat to them. Also, because of their fascinating appearance they are frequently traded and sold as pets.
4. Blue Bird of Paradise
This list could have easily been called 10 Birds of Paradise that Defy Imagination, but we have one represented. Each species seems to outdo the next with their fantastic plumage and mating rituals. The Blue Bird of Paradise, native to Papua New Guinea, is especially extraordinary with its bright blue feathers and two long elegant tail feathers. The males hang upside down and hold out their feathers to display for their potential female mates. The ladies might not be as ornate, but they are considered some of the choosiest birds in the world. These gals will only accept the most exceptionally feathered. How else do you think these males got this way?
Finally a giraffe you can see eye to eye with! Or is it a zebra? This rainforest dwelling mammal of Northern Zaire looks like someone Frankensteined a few different animals together to create one awesome creature. However, the Okapi is most closely related to the giraffe.
They have shorter necks and different coloration but they share the same long dark tongues. In fact, the Okapis tongues are so long that they can lick their own ears while grooming. They are also quite fast, and if they sense danger their five to six foot bodies can run up to around 37 miles per hour.
6. Bagheera kiplingi
A vegan spider? Well, almost. (Click here for another closeup photo) Let’s call the species a vegan who sometimes dips back into the world of insects if he’s desperate. This spider, native to Mexico and Costa Rica, is the only known plant eating arachnid out of 40,000 other species of spiders.
The Bagheera Kiplingi (named after the panther in author Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book) lives off of the buds from the acacia plant. These plants tend to be overrun with very aggressive ants. The spider is of the leaping variety so he hops from bud to bud nimbly avoiding the ants.
7. 24 Hour Ant
The Bullet Ant or the 24 Hour ant, as it’s known by locals, gets its name from the crippling pain one sting inflicts on its victims. The name Bullet Ant comes from the fact that the sting causes a pain that rivals that of getting shot. Why do the locals call it the 24 Hours Ant? Because if you get stung, you’re going to be in agony for one full day.
The 24 Hour Ant lives in the lowland rainforests from Nicaragua to Paraguay. We thought you might like to know that so you can be especially careful. Ouch.
The Colugo, also called the Flying Lemur even though it’s not a lemur, is native to rainforests across Asia. They are basically their own species and have a thin flap of skin that connects their hands to their toes and their toes to their tail allowing them to glide through the air. We’re not talking short hops either. They can make it 230 feet through the air while maintaining a reasonable altitude.
9. Honduran White Bat
The Honduran White Bat has white fur and a yellow nose and ears. They can be found in Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Costa Rica. These bats are only one to two inches in length and weigh less than an ounce each.
Unlike many bats that live in caves, this species creates its own house by cutting the leaves of the heliconia plant so that it hangs down like a tent. Groups of these white bats then cluster together. Due to their color and the sunlight bleeding through the green of the leaves, their fur takes on a green hue. This allows them to remain camouflaged.
10. Mata Mata
Much like the Satanic Leaf Tailed Gecko, these aquatic turtles are masters of disguise. Their flat heads, jagged skin and shells make them look like rocks or bark in the water. Even though they live in fresh water, these guys are lousy swimmers. They walk along the bottom and prefer to stay in shallow depths.
Unlike many turtles who keep their heads above the water, this species pokes its thorny snout (one of it’s many protuberances) just above the surface while keeping the rest of its body submerged. When catching its food, the turtle (who can’t chew) opens its mouth and sucks in its prey, swallowing it whole.
The Mata Mata lives in South America near the Orinoco and Amazon Rivers in Brazil and Venezuela.
Hello Green Tomorrow is the global commitment of Avon Products, Inc. to help end deforestation – a crisis that endangers the well-being of the planet and the survival of all living creatures. While the global mobilization and fundraising rolls on, Avon is focused on environmental stewardship throughout the business enterprise.