West African Forest

Tropical forest on the edge of a lake.
VENUE: West African Forest

THIS PLACE IS HOT, HOT, HOT!

In this tropical rain forest habitat, weeks of heavy rain are punctuated with short but intense dry seasons. The temperature hovers around 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit most of the year, often with 90% humidity.

SWAMP ROCK

Rivers, marshes, swamps, and wetlands are a vital part of West Africa, mixing in with dense lowland forests that merge into mangroves along the coast. It’s a rich haven for wildlife, especially amphibians, reptiles, and water-loving mammals.

FOREST FOR THE TREES

The forests of West Africa are among the most diverse places on Earth. The warm and humid climate is perfect for the luxuriant forest vegetation that grows there, including tree and plant species that are unique to this area.

12

countries that contain sections of West African forest

80

inches of rain per year

11,048

plant and animal species native to the area

West African Dwarf crocodile sitting at the edge of a body of water

HEADLINER
WEST AFRICAN DWARF CROCODILE

Sized Right

At five feet in length, this is one of the smallest crocodile species. The rain forest, dense swamps, and slow-moving rivers of West Africa provide this petite croc with the perfect habitat, as it forages at night and feeds mostly on small animals like crabs, snails, frogs, and fish.

dwarf crocodile in profile

HEY, MAMA

As with other crocodile species, female West African dwarf crocodiles are attentive mothers. After mating, a female lays her eggs in a mound of leaf litter, where the consistent temperature allows them to incubate. She guards her nest and watches over her hatchlings when they emerge.

side face close up of a dwarf crocodile

CROCS IN THE TREES

This dwarf croc is surprisingly agile, and excellent at making use of camouflage. During the day, it hides in the water, but if the sun shines, it slides up onto a log to bask. Most amazing is that this croc has been seen hanging out in the lower branches of trees!

profile of a dwarf crocodile

ON THE NOSE

How can you tell a crocodile from an alligator? Crocodiles have a more pointed snout, which is shaped like a "V," while alligators have a rounded snout, shaped like a "U."

ALSO
STARRING

Two fig fruits attached to a branch

FLOATING FIG TREE

Like other figs—Ficus species—the floating fig tree Ficus cyathistipula bears fruit several times a year and provides a ready supply of food for a wide variety of animals. The tree relies on something else for its own survival: the tiny fig wasp, which is its only pollinator.