There are many reasons to plan a Cuba holiday. Blissful beaches, tropical weather, and fascinatingly turbulent history. But one under-appreciated aspect of a Cuba holiday is its wildlife. This island nation has no large mammalian species such as lions or elephants roaming bout. Nonetheless, it is blessed with a host of endemic wildlife, species found nowhere else on Earth. This is because of Cuba’s geography. As an island nation, much of its wildlife has evolved in isolation over millions of years. Today, incredible species such as the Bee Hummingbird and the Desmarest’s Hutia attract visitors from around the world. In this article, we’ll introduce you to some of Cuba’s most iconic species and tell you where in the country to find them on your own wildlife holiday.
Another Cuban species actually holds a world record. The Bee Hummingbird is known to be the smallest bird species anywhere in the world. At first glance, it might be easy to mistake it for a large insect. Fully grown, it’s only a tiny 6cm long. That’s slightly less than 2.5 inches for non-metric system fans. Though the beautiful blue feathers of the bird are a giveaway. The Bee hummingbird is one of 25 endemic species in Cuba. Thankfully, the Bee Hummingbird can be found in decent numbers across the country. Habitat loss is a concern. Yet the species is safe for now, residing in protected areas such as the Baitiquiri Ecological Reserve and Alejandro de Humboldt National Park. Enjoy the view as it flits between various species of native plant, sucking up nectar.
The Cuban crocodile is a distinct species of crocodile, found only on the island of Cuba. It was once widespread across the country. Today, the croc is confined to the protected swamps of the Zapata Peninsula. This location might sound familiar as it’s in close proximity to the infamous Bay of Pigs. The Cuban crocodile has suffered from habitat loss, as well as interbreeding with the more common American crocodile. Around 3,000 Cuban crocodiles remain in the wild. The best place to see this rare creature is by visiting the Zapata Swamp. This location also happens to be one of Cuba’s best birdwatching locations. Conservation efforts are ongoing to protect this rare species for future generations.
The Cuban trogon or tocororo is another endemic bird species. Rather fittingly it is the country’s national bird. The trogon’s blue, red and white feathers match the Cuban flag. Its inability to survive in captivity is recognized by Cubans for very personal reasons. Reflecting their own love of freedom and refusal to bow to oppression throughout their history. The trogon can be spotted across Cuba’s woodland. It typically survives and thrives in fragmented habitats where many of the country’s other species have been wiped out. A keen birdwatcher will know when they have got a trogon in their sight, indeed. The bird’s low mournful song is sure to give you goosebumps.
Hutia is a small, raccoon-sized mammal, often forgotten about by wildlife lovers. Twenty (20) species of hutia have been identified to date. Unfortunately, at least one-third of these mammals have gone extinct. The Desmarest’s hutia, also known as the Cuban hutia, is the largest of the surviving species. Gladly, it also boasts an extremely healthy population. The hutia can be found in virtually all of Cuba’s habitats. Even at Guantanamo Bay where they seem to thrive! The hutia usually lives in pairs or occasionally in larger groups. Mainly herbivores, they can be seen chomping on fruit or lazing out in the hollow of a tree. Whether you’re hiking in the mountains or enjoying a wildlife holiday by bird-watching in Cuba’s mangrove forests, you stand a good chance of coming face to face with this curious creature.
As an island nation, it would be odd not to mention a marine species in this article. Scuba diving and snorkeling are two of the most popular activities for travelers on a Cuba holiday. One of the species likely to be encountered beneath the waves is the goliath grouper. This fish deserves its name, as it can grow up to a whopping eight feet in length. The grouper is known to be incredibly curious. In fact, it might even surprise you while diving. Luckily, it poses no threat to people whatsoever. An endangered species, the grouper can be found across most of the Caribbean. It can even be found as far as the Florida Keys. Anyone on a wildlife holiday to Cuba is sure to want to add a day or two by the coast to their itinerary.
Cuba Holiday Wildlife Synopsis
In conclusion, the best places for wildlife spotting in Cuba are the Zapata Swamp and Alexandro de Humboldt National Park. Though there is plentiful wildlife across the country. The joy of Cuba’s wildlife is that so much of it can be seen nowhere else on Earth. This fact gives travelers a real thrill when they spot a Cuban crocodile or a trogon in the wild. Many operators run dedicated wildlife holiday excursions to Cuba. Alternatively, you could tag on a day or two at the country’s prime wildlife locations to your Cuba holiday plans. As always, feel free to send your vacation photos to the Skycap News™ team. Who knows, we might even include your trip in a future update. With permission of course!