Wildlife Sightings & And Other Out of The Ordinary Animal Experiences on Ambergris Caye
Ambergris Caye is a large island – the biggest caye in Belize – at over 25 miles in length. And while building and development is BOOMING, there is still a huge amount of unpopulated land, rarely visited by humans.
I’ve been living on the island for 17 years. For the first 8 years, I existed almost solely in a few-mile radius – within a stone’s throw of San Pedro town – the only urban center on the Caye. My experience with land-based wildlife was limited – mostly to black iguanas (or wish willies), green iguanas and mosquitoes.
Later, I moved north – to about 8 miles north – still less than halfway up the island.
And I quickly branched out even more – to the NW side of the island at Cayo Frances Farm and Fly. And more recently to the still-under-contruction Rocky Point Permit Camp at about 18 miles north (closer to Mexico than it is to San Pedro town!)
Living on a coastal island of Belize surprises me in some way every single day – life is much less ordinary at an off-the-grid lodge – where the daily visitors are birds (many wading birds nest in the mangroved cayes on the west side of the island) and fish with a flyfishing boat once in a while.
But once in a while we see something even more exciting…
Here are some of the extra-ordinary things I’ve encountered over the last few months, things that show me how big and…cool this island is.
One day there was a ruckus in the mangroves over the lagoon…a bird squawking and screaming. Closer inspection and…it was a green vine snake with a bird’s neck in his mouth.
One of my favorite birds is the bare-throated tiger heron. Drying his feathers on an old mangrove stump. He looks like a flasher opening his raincoat.
The property is almost all black dirt – which is pretty rare on a coral reef island. While digging, this was found.
After a bit of internet research, it’s been identified as the teeth of a giant parrotfish. To grind coral, their throats are lined with these grinders.
One of my favorite sightings was these GORGEOUS eagle rays in just 2 or 3 feet off water at the entrance to Cayo Frances.
We have found parts of the mouth plates of the eagle rays. Hard like bone – or teeth. You can see them in full in this article. Who knew?
We’ve seen a peccary (also known as a javelina or a skunk pig) swim across the lagoon and a few herds of them trotting along with a baby or two. Here is a tusk we found at Cayo Frances.
A few years ago, we had a deer dropped off at Cayo Frances. A flyfishing guide and his guests spotted the fawn in distress – wading in the lagoon, lethargic.
After watching him for over an hour – looking for the mother – the fawn was picked up and delivered to our “doorstep”. We rushed over from the other side of the island to pick him up and bring him to medical help.
We named him Frances. Poor guy did make it to help on the mainland, where he was thought to be about four months old but he was seriously dehydrated, weak, and in severe shock.
Little Frances didn’t make it. I wonder how many deer are left on the island – I imagine not many.
What a beautiful animal.
Note: To hunt, a PERMIT from the Forestry Department is NEEDED. Without it, it is ILLEGAL. As far as I know, there are NO permits issued on Ambergris Caye.
Also spotted south of the Cayo Frances camp by a kayaking guest was this gorgeous mother, tamandua, feeding her baby.
Quick to leave so the family is not disturbed.
I have seen local foxes – we had one in our neighborhood for a while. They are tiny (like a large house cat) and grey/red. The Grey Fox is only 8-15lbs at full size and can climb up trees easily with hooked claws.
Jeff has spotted an ocelot before…running at a resort about 7 miles north. His picture…well…it won’t make it to National Geographic…but I’m not even sure I’d be able to get my camera out!
Just a few weeks ago, while I was hitching a ride home across the Cayo Frances Lagoon, we ran into…A CROCODILE! A big beauty just out swimming (probably moving from protected mangroved area to the next more hidden area)
And then snakes again. I RARELY see a snake while out and about in Belize. The very best chance you have for a sighting is a boa constrictor warming himself up on the road at night. But waaaaay up north, a Tropical Rat Snake stopped by the construction site to say hi.
And then…sometimes when it rains…these guys can come out of their holes. And I know how many of you feel about them…I feel the same way about scorpions…
So let’s leave it there. Please let me know if you’ve seen anything exciting. There are big cats at the far north and west of the island but they are shy (to say the least!) And that’s definitely for the best.
Have a great Sunday everyone.