One of the joys of Rustic travel is getting to see adorable, interesting, and sometimes odd animals that aren’t in your hometown. The rainforests of the world may be the best place to do this since they are packed with creatures – if you can find them. Some rainforest animals are much easier to spot than others. Here are just a few of the animals you may see while traveling with Rustic.
Toucans are loud, and their “singing” sounds more like a croaking frog. Some species also can make other noises, including barking and growling.
Because of their larger bills, toucans aren’t very graceful when flying, but they have no trouble making friends. They hang out together in groups, though it’s believed they are monogamous in their relationships.
Though toucans are widespread, not all of them are safe. In Peru, coca growers took over the yellow-browed toucanet’s range, so this bird is on the endangered list.
Howler Monkeys – Latin America
When it comes to noise, Howler monkeys will certainly do a good job competing with the birds. They are in fact considered the loudest land animal, so you may hear them while in Costa Rica or Peru. The mammals use their howling to help map out their territory, so different groups can get in howling matches.
Luckily for local villagers, these monkeys sleep a lot so they can digest the leaves they eat and survive the heat. Like toucans, they are also quite sociable and live in groups of ten to 15 monkeys.
Howler monkeys have a very strong sense of smell and can detect fruits and nuts from long distances. Fruit is the main source of food for spider monkeys that also live in the rainforests of Latin America. They can sometimes be seen swinging swiftly through the treetops. Students may run into them while traveling in the Heart of Jungle program on the Osa Peninsula.
Students also may see the smaller squirrel monkey or Capuchin monkeys that can jump up to nine feet and are known to be quite trainable.
Macaque Monkeys – Asia
Thousands of miles away in the rainforests and towns of Thailand, visitors often encounter Macaque monkeys, which spend much more time on the ground. Their bold behavior can be a nuisance since they are known to steal food and other items.
A lesser known monkey may be a little more elusive. Spectacled or dusky leaf langurs live in the Khao Sok National Forest that students visit during the Marine and Rainforest Conservation program. These monkeys prefer tall trees and look like they are wearing glasses or spectacles (hence the name). Their babies are orange when they are born, making for an unusual family photo.
Blue Morpho Butterfly
Speaking of bright colors, one of the brightest and most beautiful butterflies can be found in the rainforest of Costa Rica. The Blue Morpho butterfly is among the largest butterflies in the world with a wing span that can range from five to eight inches.
The butterflies are iridescent blue on the backs of their wings, but the underside is dull brown with eyespots. This can make it look like they are appearing and disappearing when flying.
This butterfly has a lifespan of only about 115 days, so their beauty is fleeting.
Who can resist a sloth – one of the stars of the animated movie Zootopia. These slow-moving creatures in Central and South America survive because they are so slow. Their multi-chambered stomach takes two weeks to digest a meal, and that makes it possible for sloths to eat greenery other animals can’t.
Their slowness also means they only have to descend from the treetops about once a week to relieve themselves. That helps keep them safe from predators on the ground. Sloths also can rotate their heads like owls so they can be on the lookout for all the activities around them.
These creatures may not win any beauty awards but they are among the interesting animals that are found in both the Amazon and in Thailand’s rainforest. These animals range in size but tend to be about six and half feet long. They use the flehmen response to detect smells, which is a posture that involves raising their snouts and showing their teeth.
They need this ability to fill their bellies. Tapirs eat a lot – around 85 pounds of vegetation a day.
If you join the Seven Wonders of Australia program, you may learn that not all kangaroos look like you may expect. In Australia’s Daintree rainforest there are musky rat-kangaroos. As the name suggests, they have a musky odor and have some rat-like features like their tails.
These creatures hop on all four limbs and are active during the daytime. However, they are shy and quick, so they’re hard to spot. These animals are the smallest member of the kangaroo family and spend much of their time alone, though they may feed in groups of two or three.
Elephants in the wild have large ranges, often walking on average more than three miles each day. Asian elephants are listed as endangered as they have faced threats from poachers. Students participating in the Southeast Asian Adventurer program get to care for elephants during their trip, walking with them through farmland and jungle forest.
These animals are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many more that can be viewed during student outings. Among the programs to consider for rainforest adventures are:
For all of Rustic’s 2022 programs, please visit our program page.
Mary is the Lead Editor at Rustic Pathways. She has been a writer and editor for nearly 20 years. Prior to covering student travel, Mary created content for the music education company J.W. Pepper & Son. She also was a writer and producer at CNN International and a communications director for a social service agency and a K-12 private school.