How do some animals live on trees

Animals in the forest

Much like their roommates in the root layer, the earthworms, millipedes eat and digest dead plant parts. This creates fertile humus. However, some species also nibble on the roots of healthy plants and thus harm them.

Millipedes do not need a lot of space: up to 2000 of them can live in one cubic meter of soil. If the root layer does get too tight for them, they dig up into the forest ground floor.

Ground floor: a down to earth reptile

In the Soil layer of the forest, on the ground floor, there is a lot going on: In a handful of earth there are more living things than there are people on earth. This layer is formed by mosses, lichens, mushrooms as well as fallen needles and leaves. There are also lower flowering plants such as wood sorrel and hazel root.

The animal inhabitants of the forest ground floor are insects, spiders and reptiles such as the forest lizard. In Germany it is the most common type of lizard.

At around 18 centimeters in length, it is the smallest native species - and the only one that reproduces ovoviviparously: the forest lizard does not lay eggs, but is viviparous. She lays up to ten young in thin, transparent egg shells that burst open during birth. As soon as the young animals are born, they are completely independent.

In the soil layer, the forest lizard finds sufficient food among its roommates - small insects and spiders. Unlike other lizard species, she doesn't like plants.

Since the forest lizard likes to sunbathe on old wood, it mainly stays at the edge of the forest and in clearings where enough sunlight can reach the soil layer. It hardly occurs to her to go to the next higher forest floor - the forest lizard rarely climbs.

1st floor: where the fox and the rabbit say goodnight

The first floor is formed, the Herb layer, especially of herbs, grasses and ferns as well as flowering plants. They all serve as food for bees, wasps, beetles and butterflies as well as their caterpillars. Some mammals also live in the herb layer, which reaches a height of about one and a half meters: it is the habitat of pheasant, fox and brown hare.

A small, slender inhabitant of the first floor is the forest tiger beetle. It is dark brown with white spots on the wing covers, has large eyes and pronounced jaws. The beetle uses these to suck out insects that it hunts in the herb layer during the day.

It is no longer found all that often in German forests, which is why it is under nature protection. The offspring of the forest tiger beetle grow up in the forest cellar until they hatch: the larvae dig themselves burrows. There they feed on insects living in the root layer.

2nd floor: a mouse that isn't

One floor above the herb layer is the Shrub layer of the forest, which reaches up to about five meters in height. It consists of shrubs such as elder, hawthorn or hazel and young trees. Numerous species of birds build their nests here, as they can hide particularly well on the second floor of the forest and are protected by the thorns of the bushes.

Mammalian roommates of the birds are, for example, deer and dormice. The dormouse, which is called a mouse, is a member of the sleeper family. In order to live, it needs a species-rich layer of bushes in which it can find various leaves, flowers and fruits - its main food - as well as insects and snails.

In addition, it is particularly important for the dormouse that the bushes have grown so dense that they can move around without touching the ground - because they don't like to walk on earth for fear of foxes and martens.

The thumb-sized animal is very shy and nocturnal. As soon as the sun goes down, the dormouse climbs through bushes and trees in search of food. During the day she curls up in her hiding place, wraps her tail around her like a scarf and sleeps.

Roof: little marten - big jumper

The owl is nocturnal like the dormouse - a resident of the forest attic, the Tree layer. Depending on the type of forest, this is made up of deciduous and / or coniferous trees. Woodpeckers join the owls and raise their young in tree hollows.

The pine marten also lives in such dwellings. With a body length of 60 to 80 centimeters (including tail), it is a small species of marten and has a red-brown fur with a yellowish chest. Pine marten can climb and jump exceptionally well - sometimes more than four meters.

You can even walk upside down on logs. Their long, bushy tail helps them to keep their balance - like that of a squirrel. The pine marten likes to hunt them next to birds.

The omnivore also feeds on insects, bird eggs, fruits and nuts. Pine marten are active day and night. As soon as it is dark, their sense of smell helps them hunt - then they keep an eye out for birds in their nests.