quetzalGuatemala is a place with many beautiful places to visit filled with tons of exotic species of animals. I love how every time I take my boys to parks or the rain forest in Guatemala we get to see animals in the wild. It gives them the chance to learn something new wherever we go.

Here is a list with some of the most popular animals you can have a close encounter with:

1. Quetzal: Quetzals are Guatemala’s National Bird, but because of all the illegal hunting and the destruction of their habitat they are on the list of extinct animals unless things change. In Guatemala it can be found in El Biotopo del Quetzal, Baja Verapaz.

2. Spider Monkey: In Guatemala they are commonly seen in the northern region of Peten and in Alta Verapaz. Spider Monkeys are curious animals that live mainly in the tropical forests. But again the destruction of their habitat is reducing its population rapidly and in some places they are almost extinct.

olive_rydley3. Toucan: Toucans are colorful and abundant tropical birds that can be found in all over Latin America. In Guatemala it is commonly seen in the areas of Peten and Alta Verapaz.

4. Montezuma Oropendola: This is a common bird of Central America. In Guatemala it can only be seen in the northern region of Peten.

5. Olive Ridley Sea Turtle: They love open ocean inhabitants so you will never see them near reefs. We have all heard that Sea turtles are on their way to be extinct. Even the Olive Ridley Sea Turtles, known for having the largest population around the globe. In Guatemala you can see them nesting in Monterrico.

6. Armadillo: Armadillo’s habitat is moist soil near the creeks and streams near which it generally lives and feeds. These armored little guys can be found from northern Argentina to the southern United States. In Guatemala the most common place to find them is in La Sierra de las Minas.

7. Vampire Bats: Vampires are a lot different than the ones in the movies and have nothing to do with Dracula. Vampire Bats live in a range that covers Mexico, Central America and part of South America. In Guatemala it’s prefered habitat is the rain forest.

ocelot8. Ocelot: In Guatemala these guys can be found in Tikal National Park. Many people confuses these cute felines with domestic cats because of their tiny bodies. In fact they are taken as pets by some locals.

9. Rat: They are the second most successful mammal in the world. Brown rats are one of the best known and most common animals in the world. In Guatemala just as the rest of Countries they are mostly found in populated areas.

10. Capuchin Monkey: They can be found in forest and mangrove habitats up to 2,100m elevation. They are always around jumping from tree to tree. These small and inquisitive monkeys are the easiest to observe in the wild. These monkeys can be found in the northern region of Guatemala.

11. White Lipped Peccary: It is widely considered the most dangerous peccary. They are also the big and aggressive brothers of the collared peccary. They have even killed jaguars when trying to defend themselves. It is commonly found in Sierra de las Minas.

12. Brown Basilisk: They are native to Panama, Belize, northwestern Colombia and Costa Rica. In Guatemala, this species is widespread, found practically anywhere where there is a water source. Brown Basilisk have the nickname “Jesus Lizard” because when fleeing from a predator, they are very fast and can even run on top of water.

13. Spectacled Caimans: Although they are one of the smallest crocodilian species these guys are fierce predators. It can be found in much of Central and South America. It lives in a range of lowland wetland and riverside habitat and can tolerate salt water as well as fresh water. In Guatemala you can find them in Monterrico.

caiman14. Black Hawk: Generally these birds are found lowland habitats, with a source of water nearby. These are successful predatory birds with a mysterious touch. They inhabit from the Southwestern United States through Central America to Venezuela, Peru. In Guatemala it can be found around the caribbean coasts.

15. Black Necked Stilt: The Black-necked Stilt is an abundant shorebird of American wetlands and coastlines. It is found in estuaries, salt ponds and emergent wetland habitats. It is found through Central America and the Caribbean. In Guatemala they are commonly seen in the southern coasts.

About the author:

Marina K. Villatoro is an expat living in Central America for over 10 years. She travels with her family in Central America. Connect with her on twitter and facebook.