We often read and hear about jungles in books in movies, but what do we actually know about them? Well, they’re full of vines, trees, man-eating beasts, and scary-looking bugs that, at the very sight, can induce horrible, reoccurring nightmares.
Jungles are best-known for their thick forests, diverse plant life, and tremendous amounts of rainfall every year. Jungles are also the reigning champions of biodiversity among all ecosystems on the planet – between an estimated 3 and 50 million species – so it’s not surprising that we can’t name even half of them off the top of our heads.
This list will talk about [n] types of animals that thrive in jungles. A word of caution to the readers, there are some spiders on our list so if you suffer from arachnophobia, you might want to skip items 2 and 5 from our list.
1. Assassin Bug
Invertebrates such as insects, worms, and spiders make up most of the animal life living on the jungle floor. One bug, known as the Assassin Bug, is closely related to the herbivorous shield bug, but Assassin Bugs have gotten a taste for flesh and they love it. They mostly consume bees and ants but are also known to munch on the caterpillar every now and then. Assassin Bugs get their name from creeping around their prey unknowingly and stabbing them with their long mouthparts. They might look harmless but these little fellows can be extremely intimidating to other similar-sized bugs.
If you are afflicted with arachnophobia then it’s safe to say that no jungles on Earth are safe. Tarantula – the hairy-legged arachnid with piercing-dark eyes – are especially common in jungles in South America and Asia, though they can be found practically anywhere in the world. They may look intimidating to humans, but in reality, these little guys are quite harmless and rarely bite and human passersby. The largest species of tarantula, the Goliath Tarantula, can have a leg span of up to a foot long! As scary as it might sound, Goliath Tarantulas are a delicacy in certain parts of the world.
Capybaras are the largest rodent-species on the planet. They can grow up to 4 feet long and weigh in at more than 140 pounds. For an animal closely related to rats and chipmunks, capybaras aren’t what you’d expect: they’re semi-aquatic creatures with webbed feet, thrive in wetlands like swamps and marshes, and are extremely docile. It’s a shame that these cute, submissive animals are hunted by jaguars and eagles.
4. Satanic Leaf Tailed Gecko
This species of gecko gets its name from two iconic features: the growths on its head that look like horns and its leaf-shaped tail. This animal is a master of disguise since its leaf-like tail allows it to blend in branches and trees. This is super-helpful since they are hunted by almost all carnivorous birds and mammals living in jungles. This gecko lives exclusively in the jungles on the island of Madagascar.
5. Jumping Spiders
Just when you thought spiders couldn’t get any creepier… There are more than 500 known-species of jumping spiders. As their name suggests, jumping spiders can jump. However, if you wander through a jungle, you’re most likely not going to encounter any species of jumping spiders since they thrive on the jungle canopy, jumping from branch to branch, tree to tree using a system of silky webs. However, if a jumping spider approaches you, you have nothing to worry about – they’re curious animals that investigate whatever new piece of information (or snack) is presented to them.
Okapis, also known as forest giraffes, look like a cross between a cow, giraffe, and zebra. This mammal is found exclusively in the jungles of Central Africa. The surprising thing is that it’s closely related to giraffes but not zebras, making their striped legs something of a curiosity. These adorable animals won’t stomp on you if you approach it, but it’s most likely going to high-tail it out of there. Okapis are extremely timid animals so it’s no wonder that this animal wasn’t discovered until 1900.
7. Glass Frog
The glass frog gets its name from the transparent skin and flesh. If you look closely at a glass frog, you can actually see its internal organs. Gross, yes, but also very interesting. This frog species is native to Central and South America, but as of late, their numbers have been steadily declining thanks to deforestation. Their transparent skin is believed to be a trait of evolution which allows grass frogs from being easily spotted by hunters.
8. Amazon Pink River Dolphin
This freshwater dolphin is most famous for its pink skin, though they come is a wide spectrum of pink and grey shades. Unlike other dolphin species, pink river dolphins prefer being in small groups of between 2 and 4 individuals. Despite their preference of working and living with only a small group of friends, they’re also extremely outgoing animals that often interact with people. They’re also the fuel for many of South America’s legends, the most important one being that harming a pink dolphin, let alone killing one, is bad luck. This is what has helped to protect the species all these years.
9. Jesus Lizard
The Jesus Lizard gets its name from its ability to skitter across the surface of water. It uses this miraculous ability to find a meal and prevent from becoming one. They can’t walk on water indefinitely; they can run across water for up to 40 feet before sinking. Good thing these lizards can swim. They can be found in Central and Northern America, basking in the sun, hunting for food, or just perching on tree branches.
The axolotl has received a lot of attention lately for their cute appearance, slow movements, and curious behavior. Their cute features are due to their being stuck in metamorphosis between adolescence and adulthood for perpetuity. Because of this, they have features from both of these stages of life, making them cute-looking adult salamanders. One unique thing about this species is that in extremely rare cases, an axolotl can decide to abandon the water and live life on land by getting rid of its gills and growing lungs.