CBC Kids | Play Games, Watch Video, Explore


4 fascinating critters of the Caribbean


Photo by Joe Ross licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

The Caribbean is known for its vibrant music, food, beaches and warm weather. The Caribbean is also home to some of the world’s most interesting animals. Let’s take a close-up look at some of these creatures you might spot on your next tropical trip!

1. Scarlet Ibis (Trinidad and Tobago)

A close-up shot of a Scarlett Ibis.
Like the Flamingo, the colour of the Scarlet Ibis comes from eating beta-carotene rich foods, like shrimps and crabs. Photo by Valerie licensed CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Visitors to Trinidad and Tobago will enjoy delicious food like potato roti, as well as the rhythmic sounds of steel pan and calypso music! But nothing can compare to watching thousands of brilliant streaks of red shooting across a clear blue sky as the Scarlet Ibis make their way to Caroni Swamp to settle in before nightfall. The Scarlet Ibis is the national bird of the twin islands. It feasts on red crustaceans, which are crabs, and this bird can grow from around 55 to 76 centimetres in length!

2. Hispaniolan solenodon (Dominican Republic)

The hispaniolan solenodon, has its nose turned up as it hangs out by a rock.
The snout of the Hispaniolan Solenodon operates like a "ball in socket" joint, similar to the human shoulder. Photo by Seb az86556 - Own work cropped from Hispaniolan Solenodon.jpg, CC BY-SA 3.0

Haiti and the Dominican Republic are home to one of the most rare and odd creatures in the world — the Hispaniolan solenodon. This animal is a member of the shrew family, and are one of the only venomous mammals in the world. It’s actually able to inject poison using its teeth like a snake! But don’t let that worry you — the Hispaniolan Solenodon is unable to jump, and runs so awkwardly that it often trips over its own toes when trying to escape its enemies!

3. Jamaican iguana (Jamaica)

A Jamaican iguana hangs out on a piece of wood.
The Jamaican iguana was once thought to be extinct in the 1990s, but conservationists are committed to helping the population make a comeback. Photo by Rob Bulmahn licensed CC BY 2.0

Jamaica, known as 'the land of wood and water', is one of the most popular islands in the Caribbean. Reggae music and world-famous athletes help to make it one of a kind. The large lizard known as the Jamaican iguana is also one of a kind — this rare reptile can only be found in the southeastern part of the island and fewer than 200 still exist! The iguana is mostly green and grey in colour with large olive and brown spots. It eats leaves, fruits and flowers, and can lay between 6-20 eggs at a time that hatch 85-87 days after they are laid.

4. Green monkey (Barbados)

It's the green monkey from Barbados!
Visitors are bound to see the cheeky green monkey during their stay in Barbados. Photo by Joe Ross licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

Beaches with white sand, and water the most beautiful shade of blue can be found all over the island of Barbados. Small, furry monkeys — known as green monkeys — can also be found in the island's shady gullies, or stealing fruits and vegetables from local gardens! They are known for taking a bite of a fruit and then throwing it away in search of a different taste.

When the monkey is first born it appears blue in colour, but as it grows, its fur starts to become a mix of brown and grey with yellow and green highlights. It was given the name “green monkey” because its fur can appear to be totally green in the sunlight.