Wildlife of Belize

With thousands of acres of jungle and tropical forest, and the second largest barrier reef in the world, there’s bound to be plentiful wildlife throughout the country.

Home to over 600 species of birds, Belize offers some of the best bird-watching in the world. And, the national parks of Belize are great places to begin the adventure. With 66% of the country still forested, viewers can easily spot upwards of 50 species in a single outing. The Keel Billed Toucan is the national bird of Belize and is easily recognized by its large bright colored bill, black feathers and yellow/green breast.

Among the most fascinating of Belize’s wildlife is the jaguar. In fact, the country has the highest concentration of jaguars in Central America. That’s the good news. The bad news? It’s unlikely you’ll see one in the wild due to the jungle density. If you’re set on seeing these amazing animals, your best shot is the Belize Zoo or you could try your luck at the world’s only jaguar sanctuary in Southern Belize – Cockscomb Basin Jaguar Preserve.

Whether you’re in Northern Belize, Southern Belize, on the coast, or inland, many of Belize’s finest residents are often spotted in their natural surroundings. Howler monkeys, crocodiles, iguanas, and many other jungle dwellers are commonplace for viewing.

One of the more unusual animals in Belize is the tapir, also known as the “mountain cow.” It’s the largest land animal in the country, and serves as the national animal of Belize. The tapir has a long nose like an elephant or anteater, but is actually related to the horse and rhinoceros. They are predominantly nocturnal and are forest dwellers that love the water (they’re excellent swimmers).

For those heading to the water, Belize is home to dolphins, turtles, various kinds of rays and sharks, and more than 500 species of fish. Antillean Manatees can be found in rivers, lagoons and coastal waters where they prefer warm, shallow water. Unlike manatees found in the US (Florida in particular), Antillean manatees do not need to migrate because their home waters are warm year round. Manatees in Belize commonly reach 10-12 feet in length. On your flights be sure to scan the waters. Manatees are easy to spot from the air.