With more than 400 offshore islands and a mainland covered in dense jungle and lush rainforest, it’s no surprise that Belize is home to an incredible diversity of plants, birds, and animals.
Belize’s national animal is Baird’s Tapir, which is the largest mammal in Central America’s. Called a “mountain cow” by locals, Baird’s Tapir looks something like a cross between a small elephant and an anteater. Despite their ferocious appetites that cause them to seek food during most of their waking hours, tapirs are nocturnal animals and difficult to spot in the wild.
One of Belize’s most iconic birds is the keel-billed toucan, an extremely brightly colored bird that is related to parrots. Keel-billed toucans are a rainbow of green, red, yellow, and orange colors and have an enormous bill that allows toucans to crack tough nuts. Other interesting birds in Belize include scarlet macaws, parrots, hummingbirds, giant harpy eagles, and storks.
Belize is also home to new fewer than five big cat species, including the largest predator in Central America, the jaguar. Other big cat species include jaguarundis, margays, ocelots, and pumas. Belize is home to the world’s only dedicated jaguar conservation project and an estimated 300 jaguars roam the interior.
Perhaps Belize’s most popular wild animals are black howler monkeys. Once facing the brink of extinction, strong conservation measures, including the Community Baboon Sanctuary in northeastern Belize (black howlers are known as “baboons” by locals), have allowed black howler monkeys to thrive. Black howler monkeys have one of the loudest animal cries in the world and can be heard from several miles away.
Belize is also home to several amphibian and reptile species, including snakes, crocodiles, salamanders, frogs, and giant iguanas.
The fauna in Belize is also incredibly varied, including hundreds of species of orchids. The national flower of Belize is the black orchid. Belize is also home to several tree species, including mahogany, mangrove, cacao, chicle, pine, and logwood trees.
If you’d like to experience some of Belize’s most beautiful wild natural areas, be sure to book your stay at Davis Falls Inn. Located in southern Belize on the edge of the Bocawina Mayflower National Park, Davis Falls Inn is a guest house offering clean, comfortable rooms and delicious, home-cooked meals. One of the best ways to explore the surrounding countryside is with an ATV tour provided by Untame Belize, the sister company of Davis Falls Inn.