There are four main parts of a Rainforest, also called ‘strata’ which means ‘layers’. They are:
1. Emergent Layer - consist of the tops of the tallest trees, which are much higher than the average canopy height (ranging up to 270 feet or 81 m). It houses many birds, butterflies, small monkeys, bats, snakes and insects.
2. Canopy Layer - most trees in the forest grow to this height (about 65 to 130 feet or 20 to 40 m tall) and much of the rain is stopped by the thick foliage. The canopy is full of life: insects, arachnids, many birds, mammals (like the howler monkey which is the second-loudest animal in the world, and the orangutan), reptiles, and others. Plants in the canopy include thick, snake-like vines and epiphytes ("air plants") like mosses, lichens, and orchids.
3. Understory Layer - is a dark, cool environment that is under the leaves but over the ground. It has so little light that plant growth is limited. Animals in the understory include insects, arachnids, frogs, snakes, lizards, and small mammals that live on and in tree bark. Some birds live and nest within tree recesses and eat the abundant insects.
4. Forest Floor - dark, damp, full of many dead leaves, twigs and dead plants. The forest floor is dark due to the trees above stopping the sunlight from entering the forest (it is estimated that only 2% of the sunlight actually reaches the floor). It is teeming with animal life, especially insects and arachnids (like tarantulas). The largest animals in the rainforest generally live here, including jaguars in South America, gorillas and leopards in Africa and tapirs and tigers and elephants in Asia.