Species List

Species List Belize




Arachnids        Insects        Sharks and Rays        Bony Fish

Amphibians        Reptiles        Mammals        Birds



At less than 23,000 km2 in total area Belize, comprising the eastern flank of the Yucatan Peninsula and its outlying islands, is the second smallest of the seven Central American nations. Nevertheless, the country's position between North and South America and the varied ecosystems contained within this small area has ensured high levels of diversity among Belize's wildlife.


The country's best-known natural wonder is the Belize Barrier Reef, second in length only to Australia's more famous Great Barrier Reef. However, a wealth of species occur on land in habitats from lowland rainforest to mountainous pine woodland, and Belize represents a haven for a number of internationally rare species: jaguar, Baird's tapir, West Indian manatee and scarlet macaws can all be found here.


Belize has a low population density, and as much as 75% of its land area remains forested. Over 40% of the country is contained within protected areas, one of the highest proportions anywhere in the world. La Selva Maya, the largest continuous block of rainforest in the Americas north of the Amazon, runs through the country's northwest into Mexico and Guatemala. In 1990, the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary became the first protected area in the world devoted to jaguar conservation. Nonetheless, as in most of the tropical world agricultural expansion outside protected areas represents a threat to much of the country's remaining forest and its wildlife, particularly in the Selva Maya region. The recent construction of the Challilo Dam in the Macal River Valley, one of Central America's most critical refuges for biodiversity, drew international condemnation and news coverage. The reef is threatened by overexploitation of key species, including sharks, rays and Nassau grouper.






Belize has an assortment of tarantulas, smaller spiders and scorpions shared with much of Central America. Two tarantulas are apparently found nowhere else, and among the region's many undescribed arachnid species are bound to be other endemic forms.






Florida Bark Scorpion

Centruroides gracilis

Red-rumped Tarantula

Brachypelma vagans

Golden Silk Spider

Nephila clavipes





 Belize has around 1,000 species of butterflies. In just one year of surveying, an equal number of moths was recorded from the country. Many of the widespread insects of the American tropics also occur in Belize, including the large blue morpho butterflies, some of the world's largest rhino beetles, leafcutter and army ants, and the bizarrely-shaped peanut bugs. One longhorn beetle (Clio senex) from the country can exceed 90 mm in length.




Peanut Bug

Fulgora laternaria


Clio senex

Queen Butterfly

Danaus gillipus


Adelphia basiloides

Blue Morpho

Morpho peleides





Several of the world's best-known and charismatic shark species are found in Belize. Efforts to conserve whale sharks in the area are ongoing, while scalloped hammerheads, bull and blue sharks, and eagle rays are among the species known from the country's reefs and dive sites. A number of dive and snorkelling operators actively attract sharks and stingrays to their boats. Manta rays can also sometimes be seen in Belizean waters. One Belizean atoll, Glover's Reef, is known to be used by at least 12 elasmobranch species.



Southern Stingray

Dasyatis americana

Nurse Shark

Ginglymostoma cirratum





The Belizean barrier reef system and numerous coral islands (cayes) provide habitat for a diverse array of tropical reef fish, although populations of commercially-exploited species are now threatened. Over half the fish species known from the Caribbean occur in Belize (300 of 520). The country's freshwater habitats add almost 90 species to this total, making Belize one of the most important nations in Central America for its fish species. At the same time, the country is very popular with sports fishermen, due to the presence of such trophy species as swordfish, and many of the country's marine fish are threatened.


Yellow-tailed Snapper

Ocyurus chrysurus

Hound Needlefish Tylosurus crocodrilus crocodrilus





Thirty-six species of amphibians occur in Belize, a comparatively small fauna for the Neotropics. Nevertheless, this is approximately equal to the number of amphibians found in France, with a much greater land area. Belize's amphibians are nonetheless diverse; eleven families are represented, including salamanders and caecilians as well as frogs. The only endemic terrestrial vertebrate in Belize is a species of frog, and the country is also home to populations of the critically endangered black-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis moreletti)


Painted Tree Frog

Tlalocohyla picta

Gulf Coast Toad

Incilius valliceps





Belize is home to over 120 species of reptiles, including two crocodiles, four marine and nine freshwater turtles and over 56 species of snake. One population of Morelet's crocodile in Belize represent the world's only coldwater crocodiles. Other charismatic reptiles include the boa constrictor, fer-de-lance (Bothrops asper), Neotropical rattlesnake (Crotalus durissus) and the spectacularly-crested lizards of the genus Corytophanes, which may have inspired local folklore about a small, misshapen "Old Man" who guards the forest. Belize has a number of spectacularly colourful snakes, among them coral snakes, tiger ratsnakes (Spilotes pullatus) and parrot snakes.


White-lipped Mud Turtle

Kinosternon leucosternum

Turnip-tailed Gecko

Thecadactylus rapicauda

Striped Basilisk

Basiliscus vittatus

Rose-bellied Spiny Lizard

Sceloporus variabilis

Ghost Anole

Norops lemurinus

Smooth Anole

Norops rodriguezii

Yellow-spotted Night Lizard

Lepidophyma flavimaculatum

Central American Mabuya

Mabuya unimarginata

Variable Coral Snake

Micrurus diastema

Red Coffee Snake

Ninia sebae

Tiger Ratsnake

Spilotes pullatus





There are 145 mammal species in Belize, many of them of global conservation concern. Belize represents an important conservation centre for a number of species, being home to the world's first jaguar reserve, a 'baboon' (black howler monkey) sanctuary and, on the offshore coral island Swallow Caye, a manatee reserve. Puma, ocelot, tapir, spider monkey, tamandua, kinkajou and several species of marsupial (opossums) are also among the country's more striking residents.





Nasua nasua

White-lipped Peccary

Tayassu pecari

West Indian Manatee

Trichechus manatus





Belize has a moderately large bird fauna, with 500 recorded species. In common with most of the small country's animal groups, none are endemic, but nonetheless colourful and impressive birds are to be found here. Belize is towards the northern limit of the scarlet macaw's range, and the population along the Macal River is internationally important. Keel-billed toucans, a symbol of the American tropics, can also be found here.




Turkey Vulture

Cathartes aura


Pandion haliaetus

Acorn Woodpecker

Melanerpes formicivororus

Keel-billed Toucan

Rhamphastos sulfuratus

Disclaimer: This map contains public domain material originally from the United States Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook.