Tag Archive: rainforests


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class Actinopterygii, (ray-finned fishes)
Order Characiformes (Characins)
Family Characidae (Characins)

Genus/species: Ctenobrycon spilurus

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS:  The Silver Tetra has large eyes (for murky water), and is deep bodied, laterally compressed, disc shaped, silvery color with black spot on caudal peduncle. There is a variable amount of red in the fins under the fish.

Length 8 cm (3 in)



DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: South America: Orinoco River basin. Found in areas of calm freshwater water.

DIET IN THE WILD: They are voracious omnivores feeding mainlyon zooplankton but also plants, worms, insects and crustaceans.


CONSERVATION: IUCN Redlist; not evaluated.


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Flooded Amazon Anaconda Exhibit 2018

Ref. A Docent & Guide View of the Steinhart Aquarium Species

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Fishbase: www.fishbase.org/summary/speciessummary.php?id=10629

Encyclopedia of life  eol.org/pages/206551/maps

IUCN Red list: www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/search

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes)
Order: Perciformes (Perch-likes)
Family: Cichlidae (Cichlids)

Genus/species: Satanoperca leucosticta

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: S. leucosticta has a streamlined body shape which is greenish-yellow to yellow-brown color. The head area from the mouth to the back of the gill plates are covered in numerous small whitish or iridescent bluish spots, often with a reddish background.

 Length up to 15 cm (6 inches)


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Found in South America: Essequibo River in Guyana and Nickerie River in Suriname.

DIET IN THE WILD: Eartheater name derived from this fish’s almost constant digging in the sand for prey (insects, crustaceans). It scoops up sand swallows the food and ejects waste out of its gills.

REPRODUCTION: Fish in this genus are mouth brooders. The parents take turns brooding and spit the fry into the partner’s mouth when their shift is over.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Redlist; Not Evaluated.

REMARKS: Genus name translates as “eartheater.” This common name applies to many species. A small, but popular food fish. 


California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium Flooded Amazon Anaconda Exhibit 2016

Ron’s WordPress shortlink  http://wp.me/p1DZ4b-1o1

Fishbase search.yahoo.com/search?ei=utf-8&fr=aaplw&p=www.f…

Encyclopedia of life   eol.org/pages/206551/maps


Mongabay.com fish.mongabay.com/species/Satanoperca_leucosticta.html

Cichlid forum: www.cichlid-forum.com/articles/sat_cf_leucosticta_amazonr…

Cichlids. https://www.flickr.com/photos/cas_docents/7674722288/in/album-72157608395881837/

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Dendrobatidae

Genus/species: Oophaga (formerly Dendrobates) pumilio

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Despite the common name, coloration is reportedly highly variable among locations with up to 30 color morphs . Individuals may be ripe-strawberry red, brilliant blue, deep green or brown. The limbs are marbled dark blue and black. Body is slim, snout is rounded, the eyes large. The long, slender forelimbs end in finger and toe tips expanded into adhesive discs. Length to 2.5 cm (1 inch).

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama. Primarily terrestrial in tropical rain forest leaf litter and decaying vegetation.

DIET IN THE WILD: Hunts diurnally, primarily upon ants and oribatid mites.

PREDATION: Night ground snakes are immune to the toxins of O. pumilio. Tadpoles are often consumed because their poison glands are underdeveloped.  They are in danger of an aggressive fungus – Chytrid Fungus – that is killing off frog populations around the globe.

REPRODUCTION: The male protects and keeps their eggs moist until they hatch. Then the female carries the tadpoles to a water filled bromeliad where the young feed on unfertilized eggs (oophagy).

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red List: Least Concern (LC)
population numbers are currently high despite illegal capture for the pet trade and habitat loss.

REMARKS: Alkaloids in the skin glands of poison frogs serve as a chemical defense against predation, and most come from the oribatid mites. In captivity, with a non-native food source, they lose their toxicity.



California Academy of Sciences Docent Rainforest Training Manual 2014

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Animal Diversity Web animaldiversity.org/accounts/Oophaga_pumilio/

IUCN Red List  www.iucnredlist.org/details/55196/0

Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/330984/details

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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Nymphalidae (Brush-footed Butterflies)

Genus/species: Caligo memnon

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: There is a bluish-gray hue to the uppermost portion of the hindwing with a cream-colored patch on forewing. The wing underside surface is brown and tan with many lines and two large eye spots.

C. memnon is a very large butterfly with a wingspan up to 12.5 cm (5 inches)

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Mexico south to Amazonia in rainforests and secondary forests.

DIET IN THE WILD: Adults feed on rotting fruit, sipping liquids through their proboscis.

REPRODUCTION: The larvae of C. memnon go through five instar stages before the pupa (chrysalis) is formed. Adults emerge after 20 days of the pupal stage.

PREDATORS: Fly at dusk to avoid avian predators. Also eaten by small lizards.

REMARKS: Giant owls not always applauded by human cohabitants. Larvae are large and voracious, and one individual can consume an entire banana leaf more than 3 feet long!

Common name derived from the large “eye-spots” on the underside of wings, thought to be deterrents to bird predators.


California Academy of Sciences Docent Rainforest Training Manual 2014

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Insecta   insecta.pro/taxonomy/15030


Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute biogeodb.stri.si.edu/bocas_database/search/quick/open/?se…

Encyclopedia of Life eol.org/pages/137994/details

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda (insects, arachnids, and crustaceans)
Class: Insecta
Order: Blattodea (cockroaches and the termites)
Family: Blaberidae (giant cockroaches)

Genus/species: Blaberus giganteus 

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: They have three pairs of legs, and two pairs of wings, the forewings being light brown in colour. Largest neotropical cockroach by weight. A giant cockroach has a flattened, oval body, about 9 cm (3.5 inches) long and 4 cm (1.5 inches) wide. Females are slightly larger than males. They commonly run along the ground, although the adults have wings that are rarely if ever used for flight. They have long, very slender antennae and two sensory organs, called cerci, at the tip of the abdomen.

Blaberus giganteus 3445478500_7a02fcb067_b

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Central and South America. They prefer dark, damp locations such as caves, rock crevices, tree hollows, and spaces under loose tree bark.

Blaberus giganteus 3775296951_fd8e873273_b

DIET IN THE WILD: Cockroaches are omnivores and detritivores. Common diet includes bat guano, rotting wood, fruit, seeds, decomposing vegetation, dead insects, and other animals. They help recycle decaying matter on the ground into useful nutrients for plants. 

REPRODUCTION: Females emit a pheromone that induces males to mate. Male courtship rituals include raising wings at right angles to abdomen and making trembling movements with abdomen. After mating, the female B. giganteus will be pregnant for life producing eggs which turn into nymphs which later become adults.

Blaberus giganteus 3779077163_a2d1b493c7_b-2

MORTALITY/LONGEVITY: They can live about 20 months as adults.

PREDATORS:  Army ants kill and eat nymphs.

CONSERVATION:  IUCN: Not Listed; CITES: Not Listed  

Cockroaches dates back over 200-300 million years, and are very adaptable and resilient animals.

REMARKS:  The leg bristles and antennae are used for seeing and feeling, in their dark habitat, while their flat bodies enable them to hide in crevices and underneath rocks. Cockroaches do not have lungs to breathe, but instead they take air in through spiracles, which are tiny holes on the sides of their bodies, and are used to send oxygen to other parts of the body. This allows the cockroach to survive for a period of time without its head, until it dies of infection, starvation or dehydration. When threatened, the giant cockroach is able to produce a foul smell to ward off predators. 

Location: Rainforest Costa Rica CR04 


Toronto Zoo http://www.torontozoo.com/ExploretheZoo/AnimalDetails.asp?pg=445

Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/1075061/details

Sreng, L. 1993. Cockroach Mating Behaviours, Sex-Pheromones, and Abdominal Glands (Dictyoptera, Blaberidae). Journal of Insect Behaviour. 6: 715-735.

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Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata (scaled reptiles, all lizards and snakes)
Family: Gekkonidae (Geckos)

Genus/species: Phelsuma standingi

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Base color is usually light gray or brown with darker fine reticulations. If inactive, the coloration of this day gecko is often duller, giving it an overall grey appearance. When cool it takes on darker colors to help absorb light and heat and when hot it turns pale. Hatchlings have a yellowish-green head and typical light bands and bars on their backs. Large for a gecko, to 30 cm (11.75 inches) in length.


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: They have a limited range within southwest Madagascar, preferring dry thorn forests and arid to semi-arid regions where vegetation consists of thorny succulent plants and baobab trees.    

DIET IN THE WILD: Diurnal; feeds on insects, fruit, nectar and possibly other lizards. 




REPRODUCTION: Established adult pairs will tolerate juveniles until they reach sexual maturity. Eggs are most often laid in pairs that are “glued” to each other. As in many reptile species, sex of newborns is temperature dependent.

LONGEVITY: Captivity to 12 years, wild 5 years.

PREDATORS: Snakes and birds of prey.

CONSERVATION: IUCN Red list: Vulnerable (VU) 

Populations numbers are thought to have declined in the 1990s due to heavy collecting for the pet trade.

Color of Life: Madagascar geckos are often either green or brownish, providing concealment in the rainforest.


California Academy of Sciences Docent Rainforest Training Manual 2014

ARKive  www.arkive.org/banded-day-gecko/phelsuma-standingi/

Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/791137/details

IUCN Red List  www.iucnredlist.org/details/16947/0

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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Family: Boidae (Boas; non-venomous, constricting snakes)

Genus/species: Sanzinia madagascariensis


GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Endemic throughout the island of Madagascar, excluding the very southwest corner. Occurs in 2 color variations; those in the eastern part of the range are green to grayish-green, while in some parts of the western range they are yellow, orange, and brown. The green variety is somewhat smaller than the western form. Max length: about 2 m or 6 ft. Females are larger than males.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Endemic throughout the island of Madagascar, excluding the very southwest corner. Live in a variety of forest habitats, ranging from lowland tropical forests, to humid upland forests, to dry forests.

DIET IN THE WILD: It is a nocturnal snake, feeding on small mammals (including bats!) and birds, seeking them out using the heat-sensitive pits around its mouth that enable it to hunt for warm-blooded prey in complete darkness. Prey are constricted by the powerful coils of the boa which tighten as the prey struggles, restricting the blood flow to the heart and ultimately causing circulatory failure. Not venomous.

REPRODUCTION: Like all boas, females give birth to live young.Reach maturity at 3 years old, giving usually gives birth to fewer than 12  living young, which are red-colored to deter predators.

CONSERVATION:  IUCN Red List; Least Concern (LC)   Appendix I of CITES. Habitat loss through deforestation for agriculture and human settlement has restricted these boas mostly to protected areas of Madagascar. 

LOCATION: Rainforest  Madagascar MA06


Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/795591/details

ARKive http://www.arkive.org/madagascar-tree-boa/sanzinia-madagascariensis/

California Academy of Sciences Docent Training Manual on Rainforests 2014

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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Amphibia
Order: Anura
Family: Microhylidae

Genus /species: Scaphriophryne gottlebei


GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: Roundish, with a distinctive white, red, green and black pattern on the back and a grey belly. Adapted for both the underground and climbing lifestyles,S. gottlebei has horny tubercles on the underside of the hind feet for burrowing, and claws on the forefeet for clinging to vertical canyon walls. Length 20mm (7/8 inches) to 30mm (1.2 inches).

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Madagascar in open rocky dry forest and canyons amongst stone crevices. Despite its webbed hind feet, the painted burrowing frog is a poor swimmer. S. gottlebei is thought to climb only to escape drowning in flash flood water by finding small holes to rest in within the canyon walls of its habitat.


REPRODUCTION: Tadpoles mature in rocky pools eating detritus.



Madagascar rainforest


Encyclopedia of Life  eol.org/pages/1019833/details

IUCN Red List www.iucnredlist.org/details/57998/0

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Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Arachnida
Order: Araneae
Suborder: Araneomorphae (fangs slope towards each other in a pinching action)
Family: Nephilidae

Genus/species: Nephila madagascariensis


GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS: They have striped legs specialized for weaving (where their tips point inward, rather than outward as is the case with many wandering spiders). In females, the dorsal side of the abdomen has bright yellow markings surrounded by a light gray border. The rest of the body and legs are black with patches of brown. 4.8 – 5.1 cm (1.5 – 2 in) in females, not including leg span, with males being usually 2/3 smaller (less than 2.5 cm, 1 in). Named for yellow threads of their web shine like gold in sunlight not the color of the spider.

DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Various species of orb weaving spiders are widely distributed. They exist in the southern United States, Central and South America, Southeast Asia, and the South Pacific. Nephila madagascariensis madagascariensis is found on the island of Madagascar and certain parts of Southern Africa. 

Spinning web below

Golden Orb16121279421_89d739a11a_o

DIET IN THE WILD: Eat insects that get caught in their webs, primarily flying insects. They kill their prey with a venomous bite. While painful, a bite from this spider would not seriously hurt humans.

Golden Orb Weaver

LONGEVITY:: Females usually live about a year, and males about 6 mos.

REMARKS: Golden orb spiders weave large, strong webs out of golden-colored silk which can be as big as 2 m across. The silk strands are reputed to be five times stronger than steel and three times more elastic than Kevlar.
The oldest surviving genus of spiders, with a fossilized specimen known from 165 million years ago.

Rainforest, Madagascar


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California Academy of Sciences: Madagascar Golden Orb Spider exhibit 2014

 iNaturalist www.inaturalist.org/taxa/49758-Nephila

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Hexapoda
Class: Insecta
Order Orthoptera (grasshoppers, locusts, crickets, katydids, and their relatives)
Family: Tettigoniidae

Genus/species: Copiphora rhinoceros

GENERAL CHARACTERISTICS OF KATYDIDS: They are usually green and have a thick body, usually taller than it is wide, and long thin legs. The head has chewing mouthparts and long thin antennae that reach back at least to the abdomen of the insect. The front wings have special structures that can be rubbed together to make sounds. They hear these sounds with flat patches on their legs that act as ears.

Tettigoniids may be distinguished from grasshoppers by the length of their filamentous antennae, which may exceed their own body length, while grasshoppers’ antennae are always relatively short and thickened.

C. rhinoceros uses the horn like projection on their head for protection from hungry bats.


DISTRIBUTION/HABITAT: Central, North and South America. Found in the forest canopy.

DIET IN THE WILD: They use their powerful jaws to subdue prey such as small invertebrates and consume plant material.

REMARKS Use sound to communicate across distances. Sometimes nearby males will all call together, trying to attract females. They also use their antennae to touch and smell each other.

Copiphora rhinoceros15949749665_c2933568be_k



Encyclopedia of life  eol.org/pages/972/details

Animal Diversity Web animaldiversity.org/accounts/Copiphora_rhinoceros/classif…

California Academy of Sciences Exhibit. San Francisco CA

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