10 Unique Animals You’ll Find in Cuba
Animals in Cuba have remained untouched and it’s been naturally preserved. As a result, it has maintained its stunning biodiversity that will add so much more to your next trip to this tropical country!
Thanks to the size of Cuba and the wide variety of habitats that it offers, the plants and animals in Cuba are one of a kind. Because the animals feel safe in their environment, they continue to thrive. The mountainous regions, lush jungles, deserts, and the sea make Cuba one of the best homes for these rare species.
The island is strict with its protected areas. More than 20% of the entire island is under protection and this is what helps conserve the endangered animals in Cuba.
Wild animals in Cuba are unique to the island and they are a treasure for locals and visitors alike. Most of the wildlife can only be found in Cuba and that is enough reason to visit and experience native animals in Cuba that don’t exist anywhere else!
10 Unique Animals You’ll Find in Cuba
These unique Cuban animals will make you want to explore this unique Caribbean country full of diverse animals you might have never seen in your life. Let’s dive in!
1. Cuban Rock Iguana
Many people that have traveled to Cuba, consider this iguana one of the most impressive species because of its size. This species can be as big as 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall and 15 pounds (6.8 kilograms) making it the biggest of all the West Indian rock iguanas.
They can be brown or dark gray and have a banding. Some people in Cuba even have them as pets since they live about 15 years.
When you’re in Cuba, look for them scampering around limestone formations or climbing trees. They enjoy the silence and if you’re lucky you can spot them swimming using their powerful tails. These are some of the most endangered species of lizards that exist in the world. It’s imperative to protect them and their environment.
2. Cuban Crocodile
You could see the Cuban crocodile almost everywhere in the past but now, they can only be spotted in the Zapata Swamp. They are the most endangered species of crocodiles in the world because they’re losing their genetic identity since they started to breed with the American crocodile species.
The hybrids are losing the Cuban crocodile genomes and are slowly disappearing. That’s why it’s so rare to see an authentic Cuban crocodile nowadays.
Scientists think that the loss of this unique lineage may cause the crocodiles to lose the ability to adapt to a new environment. They usually live up to 75 years but they don’t reproduce often. You can sometimes see them around the shores but they are becoming one of the rarest Cuban animals.
3. Cuban Trogon
The Cuban trogon is Cuba’s national bird. This is because their feathers range from red, white, and blue which mimic the colors of Cuba’s flag. These birds cannot survive captivity reflecting people’s love of freedom.
They can be found in Cuba’s woodlands and in dense shrubs. They’re easy to spot due to their tricolored plumage that creates a stunning view.
Cuban trogons are also known for their unique, mournful call that locals can easily recognize. They’re local birds that you’ll only find in Cuba and will find flying around the island.
4. Cuban Finch
The Cuban finch is another bird that’s native to Cuba. You can sometimes find them in the Bahamas and the Caicos Islands but they’re more commonly found in Cuba. These small birds prefer to live in tropical forests and are capable of growing up to 3.5 inches (8.89 centimeters.)
These Cuban animals don’t do well in captivity but breeders are good at breeding them when in captivity but they have to be careful because they’re aggressive birds. They enjoy eating leaves, seeds, and other food they find in the wild.
5. Polymita Picta
The Polymita picta is also known as the Cuban painted snail. These Cuban animals are small, air-breathing land snails that belong to the Helminthoglyptidae family.
This is another endemic animal from Cuba you can find in trees. These tiny Cuban animals are sensitive to luminosity, humidity, salinity of the environment, and temperature.
This is precisely why it has been hard for them to adapt to different territories but you can still find them in Baracoa, a municipality in Cuba.
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6. Bee Hummingbird
These animals in Cuba are fan favorites because they’re unlike any other hummingbird. The bee hummingbird or zunzuncito are the world’s smallest birds.
People search for these tiny hummingbirds all over Cuba because they’re the smallest hummingbirds in the world! They measure 2.7 inches (7 centimeters) but their flight speed is 89.4 miles (144 kilometers) per hour. They take the nectar from their flowers in full suspension using their long, tiny beaks.
7. Cuban Gar
The Cuban gar is considered a biological relic because unlike many other species around this fish, it has survived. Other fish around them no longer exist but Cuban gars are resilient and it’s still possible to spot them in Cuba!
It’s also found in the Peninsula of Zapata but because the area is restricted and protected, it’s not easy to spot. But you can go diving and if you’re lucky, one of these rare fish will appear and it is a sight to enjoy.
Cuban gars usually prefer to hunt alone except during spawning season when you can see about 20 gars traveling together. They’re in danger of extinction so if you love fish, like I do, it’s best to go see them as soon as possible!
8. Cuban Hutia
These Cuban animals are also referred to as Desmarest’s hutia and it’s the largest endemic land mammal in the country. This ancient mammal has survived extinction because there are no other mammals like them on the island.
This isn’t the case in other islands where the Cuban hutias have not survived. This is another fascinating species that can only be witnessed in Cuba.
These animals in Cuba tend to live in pairs and you can find them in leafy treetops or rock crevices on the ground. You can find a lot of these Cuban animals wandering around the island and unlike many other endemic species in Cuba, they are not in danger of extinction.
9. Cuban Solenodon
The Cuban solenodons are unlike any other Cuban animals. They are primitive insectivores that are considered living fossils since they haven’t evolved in millions of years. The Cuban animals are dominant predators from the West Indies.
They are venomous and dangerous because they inject their poisonous saliva into a prey that instantly incapacitates them. So, beware of them when you’re on the island. Usually, it’s better to have a guide with you so that you know how to approach or not approach these rare Cuban animals.
The species was almost decimated by dogs, cats, and mongooses but they have managed to survive even though they are extremely rare to spot.
10. Cuban Parakeet
The Cuban parakeets are colorful birds endemic to the Cuban archipelago. They are vulnerable species because they have lost a lot of their nesting habitat. Their green bodies and their smiling faces make them stunningly unique.
They sometimes have scattered red feathers but they are usually very difficult to spot because they camouflage in nature.
You can find these native animals in Cuba thriving in the Zapata Swamp. If you’re in Cuba and you’re lucky enough to spot them, you might see a flock between 6 to 50 birds! They are gorgeous birds that are endangered in the world.
Travel to Cuba and Learn Spanish
Check out this documentary in Spanish where a scientist answers questions about the biodiversity in Cuba and learn even more about these unique animals!
What’s amazing about traveling to Cuba is getting to know the culture and history of the country. Cuban people have an amazing zest for life, deep family values, and amazing music to dance to!
Traveling to learn and practice Spanish is incredibly fun but also an investment! According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, translators and interpreters are among the top five fastest-growing occupations, with opportunities expected to increase by 46% between 2012 and 2022.
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