Wildlife & Birds


Over half of Belize is primary forest which means there is unusual, rare and exciting wildlife living in the forest, with a number of species unique to Belize.

These large areas of tropical rainforest provide a huge diversity of species and opportunities to see animals living in their natural habitat.

The forest floor is home to peccaries (wild pig), deer and the unusual Baird's Tapir. The treetops provide food for troops of black howler monkeys and crocodiles can be found lurking in lagoons and rivers. The Jaguar and Puma are native to Belize, as well as lesser known cats such as Margay and Ocelot, but as they are nocturnal creatures sightings are rare.

The mangrove and sea grass on the coastline and cayes provide a feeding ground for the rare and elusive West Indian Manatee, and further offshore the Belize Barrier Reef hosts a vast array of tropical fish, nurse sharks, rays, turtles, dolphins, whale sharks and other unusual marine species.


Belize is a birdwatcher's paradise, over 500 species of bird have been recorded. Experts and novices alike can enjoy the birdlife as many of the jungle lodges offer early morning bird walks with enthusiastic and knowledgeable guides.

Belize's wildlife sanctuaries and protected reserves provide undisturbed habitat that is home to many different species. Brightly coloured birds such as the beautiful Keel Billed Toucan, Collared Aracari, Blue-crowned Motmot and Slaty-tailed Trogon can be found in the tropical forest.

Look out for Jabiru, Boat-billed heron, Snail Kites and American Pygmy kingfishers at lagoons, rivers and wetlands. Pelicans and frigate birds can be found on the coast and at the cayes and there is a sanctuary for red-footed boobies at Half Moon Caye.

The endangered Scarlet macaws can be found in the Chiquibil Forest Reserve and seasonally at Red Bank across the Maya Mountains.

Top 5 Belize Wildlife

Black Howler Monkey

Howler Monkey

Our favourite Belize animal is the loudest mammal on the planet. They can be found in the day in the treetops eating leaves in troops up to as many as 20. The male's loud howl marks their territory to neighboring troops, they can be heard up to 3 miles away and generally between dusk and dawn. The sound is eerie, yet exhilarating and will be a memorable experience, especially if it wakes you in the night.

Likelihood to see: High in certain areas.

Keel Billed Toucan

Keel Billed Toucan

The keel billed toucan is the national bird of Belize and can be spotted in Belize jungle. Its beautiful, bright coloured plumage and bill make it easier to spot than it's lesser known relative the Collared Aracari which is also prevalent in Belize. Listen out for its distinctive call that is a low croak.

Likelihood to see: Medium (High with binoculars and a guide)

West Indian Manatee

West Indian Manatee

Large and gentle mammal that lives in shallow water in rivers, lagoons and along the coast of the mainland and its offshore cayes. They are herbivores and graze on the sea grass and mangrove leaves and weigh approx. 1,000 pounds. Manatees existence is increasingly threatened by the destruction of their habitat, but in Belize they have been protected for a long time. The Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary was setup specifically to benefit them.

Likelihood to see: Medium with the right guide, they are rare and elusive.


spotted eagle ray

The most common ray species you can spot in Belize are the Southern Stingray, followed by the Spotted Eagle Ray , these creatures gracefully glide through the sea. You can sometimes spot the Southern Stingray peaking through the sandy layer at the bottom of the sea. The spotted eagle rays have beautiful markings and an interesting beak with plate like teeth used to crush oysters and sea urchins. When swimming at the surface, they can jump out of the water.

Likelihood to see: High - particularly on the cayes if snorkelling and diving, but can be spotted from piers and boardwalks near seagrass.

Scarlet Macaws

Scarlet Macaw

These beautiful brightly coloured birds are endangered in Belize due to loss of habitat. However, an estimated population of 100 can be seen at the Mayan village of Red Bank, between January and March, when they come to feed on the ripe fruit of the Annatto and 'pole wood' trees. Their sheer size means they can be seen from a distance with the naked eye.

Likelihood to see: Medium - With binoculars, guide and timing.

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