What Types of Animals & Plants Live in Australia's Tropical Rain Forests?
- The Australian continent is made up of several differing environments, from sandy beaches, mountainous regions, dry outback and lush rain forests. The rain forest, located mainly near Queensland, host many plant and animal species that call Australia's rain forest home. These species, many endangered due to human encroachment, create the rain forest's delicate ecosystem. In some cases, these plants and animals are found only on the Australian continent.
- Like most of the continent, marsupial species exist in the denseness of the rain forest's canopy, the exception being that these animals differ in some aspects from their well-known cousins. The much smaller red-legged pademelon and musky rat kangaroos are about the size of large rats and spend most of their time scavenging for berries and small insects on the rain forest floor. Slightly larger, the Lumholtz tree kangaroo sticks to forest treetops to avoid predators as it snacks on fruit. Carnivorous marsupials like bandicoots, giant uromys and the antechinus patrol the forest, looking for snakes, rodents and anything otherwise unlucky enough to encounter them. Several tropical birds and reptiles round out the animals that make up the rest of the population.
- As one would expect, many species of plants make up the actual forest. Dozens of fern species, trees and large-leaved elephant ears contribute to the green of the environment. Many animals depend on the fruit produced by plants like striped cucumber, chain fruits, figs and Cassowary plums as food sources. Colorful flowers are produced by plants like the hairy pittosporum, gardenias, and the pink evodia to attract pollinating insects. Coffee plants, an important exportation of the local economy, can be found throughout the rain forest.
- Thousands of insects and arachnids can be found on all levels of the rain forest, from the floor to the canopy. In addition to Australia's Native Bee, a species not found anywhere else in the world; other stinging insects like the paper wasp can be found making nests in the trees. Mound-builders like the tree ant and termites create their large nests near well-shaded areas. Large spiders species like the huntsman and orb spiders make their webs throughout the treetops while the aquatic giant water spider hangs around heavily watered areas in an effort to catch crickets, cicadas and katydids.