Sitting right above the equator, Belize has its fair share of weird animals lurking in the jungles (and even backyards.) If you’re a frequent traveler to Belize, you might have spotted them yourself – or have sampled them at the dinner table. Most of these critters keep to themselves, while others like to make themselves known by sneaking onto back verandahs, or you can see the rehabilitated ones at the zoo. What’s so interesting about these animals is that not many people know they exist at all, often wondering what on earth they’re looking at when they come across one. Some of them are cute, some of them are furry and others are friendly.
- Coatimundi – Also known as coatis, these guys are diurnal mammals with a white nose, a tail and live both on the ground and in the trees. It does resemble a raccoon, except it’s mostly white with reddish hues. Coatis are omnivores, and when leaping into trees emit a “woof” sound. They are furry animals that often keep to themselves.
- Jaguarundi – This wild cat is closer to the size of a house cat than a jaguar, despite its name. Weighing around 8 to 20 pounds with round ears and short legs, the feline feeds on rodents, reptiles and birds, sometimes preying on rabbits and opossums.
- Cacomistle – With a ring tail and pointed ears, this omnivore is a long slender creature whose name means half-cat or mountain lion. They prefer tropical broadleaf forests and have non-retractable claws, though they are great at climbing.
- Gibnut – Otherwise known as the Agouti Paca, this rodent was made famous after allegedly being served to the Queen of England decades ago during a visit to the country and gaining the moniker “Royal Rat.” A prized game animal in Belize, gibnuts are found near water bodies and swamps in dense tropical forests. They do make a lot of noise when walking on leaves throughout the night and chewing on hard nuts. They often have white spots on their coat and grow up to two feet.
- Peccary – These little hog-looking animals travel in small groups and locals refer to them as “warees.” The mammals usually grow to three or four feet in length and we around 44 – 80 pounds. They’re often confused with pigs, though their coats are grizzled black with a white collar. They bear tusks and when greeting one another, they rub each other from head to rump.
- Aracari – If you’re an avid birder (if not, Belize will definitely turn you into one), you’ve more than likely come across the Aracari Toucan. Unlike Belize’s national bird, the Aracari are less brightly-colored, but still possesses an interesting shade of black and orange on its underbelly. Its beak is almost full black and they have piercing yellow eyes. They’re often picking at sweet fruits found on trees such as papaya.
- Tapir – Okay, so you probably already knew about Belize’s national animal, our beloved mountain cow, but it could not be left out of a list about weird animals. As a calf, the tapis have cut spots all over their bodies, outgrowing them in the next few years. They mostly munch on leaves and other shrubbery. They have a long nose like an anteater, and you can spot them at the Belize Zoo, which takes care of mostly rehabilitated animals.
For more information on animals in Belize, feel free to email us at [email protected] or call us toll-free at 1-800-624-0686.
(Images in order of list above)
Jaguarundi : Image courtesy the Belize Zoo
Cacomistle: Image courtesy Consejo.bz
Gibnut: Image courtesy AmbergrisCaye.com
Peccary: Image courtesy Consejo.bz
For more information on animals in Belize, email us at [email protected] or call us toll-free at 1-800-624-0686.