The Virtual Rainforest
A Neotropical Rainforest
Rainforest Research


Tree Seedlings

Forest Flowers



Army Ants

Bullet Ants
Leafcutter Ants

Rhinoceros Beetle

Swallowtail Butterfly



Keel-billed Toucan

Howler Monkeys

White-faced Monkeys

Three-toed Sloth
Baird's Tapir
White-lipped Peccary
Reptiles and Amphibians:
Red-eyed Tree Frog
Poison Dart Frog
Helmeted Iguana
Eyelash Viper
Terciopelo Viper
Spectacled Caiman
American Crocodile
Human Systems:
Rainforest Boy
Rainforest Girl
Traditional Ecological Knowledge
Rainforest Research

About the Authors





White-lipped Peccary
Tayassu pecari

White-lipped PeccaryThey look like pigs, smell like pigs, and guess what--they're a kind of wild pig. White-lipped peccaries are a medium to large native pig species found in Central and South America. Like other pigs, they eat a wide variety of foods, inculding seeds, roots, bird eggs, lizards, and anything else they can catch.

In the rainforest, several animals are "indicators" of the health of the rainforest. Only a healthy rainforest will support key species like Tapirs and Jaguars. However, no species is more indicative of a rainforest's health than the White-lipped Peccary. This is because White-lipped Peccaries like to be in large groups that require large areas of rainforest.

When local people living in and around the tropical rainforest talk about animals, the White-lipped Peccary is always one of the first that they mention. They live in rainforests from the south of Mexico all the way to Ecuador. Small Herd of White-lipped Peccaries near Monkey Point, NicaraguaPeople really like to eat wary, which is one reason they are so well-known, but they are truly unforgettable animals. For instance, wary usually walk in big groups of 10-100. Some scientists say that the biggest wary groups probably have more than 2,000 members. If this were not interesting enough, as they walk about in huge groups, they clack their teeth together and grunt back and forth to communicate. Imagine bumping into a giant mob of grunting, clacking wild pigs in the forest!

Another important way the wary talk to each other is by using their scent to mark their territory. These territories are usually very, very large – even bigger than the amount of land that a tiger walks. Speaking of tigers, they love to eat wary, though some say an angry drove of wary is strong enough to kill even a big tiger if he’s not careful. Hunters have to be careful too; there are many stories about huntermen having to climb tall trees to escape upset groups of wary. Despite this, these critters hardly eat meat and prefer a variety of fruits, insects, mushrooms, and plants. Many people claim they also like to eat snakes. Although the big wary groups might make them seem common, they need lots of forest to survive; and every day there is less and less tropical forest, and less and less wary.

All of the photos on this page were taken using remote "camera traps" that are mounted on a tree and take a photo when the animal passes by. We use these in our research to understand the presence of rare wildlife on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua.


The Virtual Rainforest

Back to the Rainforest

Copyright Gerald R. Urquhart
Michigan State University

Students and teachers have permission to quote text and use images from this website in class assignments. Images may be used in classroom and academic presentations with notification of author. All other use should request permission.


Virtual Rainforest development supported by grant #0815966 from the
National Science Foundation

Center for Global Change and Earth Observation

Michigan State University