Flowers, Plants and Animals – Jamaica Wildlife
Jamaica’s Blue and John Crow Mountains National Park is home to 800 endemic plants, 200 bird species and 500 flowering plant varieties… This gives you an idea of the island’s biodiversity. Jamaica’s tropical climate supports diverse ecosystem environments, including limestone forests, rain-forest, grasslands, riparian woodland as well as wetlands. In areas that receive heavy rainfall, one can find stands of bamboo, ferns, ebony, mahogany, and rosewood, while cactus and similar plants are found along the southwest coastal areas.
Birds are abundant in Jamaica, with over 300 recorded species. This includes the colourful Jamaican Tody and parrots, parakeets and a macaw, as well as a variety of hummingbirds including the island’s national bird – the Doctor or Red-billed Streamertail (named for it’s two long tail feathers). Jamaica is home to a variety of waterfowl, grebes (freshwater divers), wading birds (flamingos, storks, herons, egrets, ibis etc…), pelicans, kingfishers, seabirds (frigatebirds, boobies, Cormorants, gulls, terns, etc…) as well as shorebirds, plovers, cuckoos, and shy swamp dwelling birds. The island also has fowl, Birds of prey (osprey, vultures, hawks, harriers, kites, owls, falcons etc..), woodpeckers, flycatchers, swallows, thrushes, warblers, grassquits, sparrows, buntings and many more…
The world’s largest centipede (at just under a foot / 30cm), the Amazonian Giant, and the Western Hemisphere’s largest butterfly, the Homerus Swallowtail, can both be found in Jamaica. While the centipede is venomous, it is non-lethal to humans.
The island is home to a large number of bats, while the only other mammal native to Jamaica is a large rodent called the Hutia (or Coney). Wild boar and Mongoose were introduced to the island hundreds of years ago, and remain common.
There are many reptiles that call Jamaica home, the largest of which is the non-aggressive American Crocodile, whose presence is isolated to the Black River and surrounding area (southwest coast of the island). Lizards such as anoles, iguanas and snakes such as racers and the Jamaica Boa Constrictor are also common. That said, none of Jamaica’s snakes are dangerously venomous to humans.
Jamaican waters contain coral reefs and plenty of fish and other sea life. Some of the more common corals include elkhorn, red cauliflower, brain, torch, flowerpot, star and bubble coral. There’s also sea fans, sea cucumbers as well as carpet, green and purple sea anemone on the ocean floor. Local fish include angel, box, goat, puffer and king fish, squirrelfish, clownfish, parrotfish, butterflyfish as well as jack, anthias, basslets, barjacks, barracudas, chromis, wrasses, mackerel, whiting, bonito and tuna. The sea also contains seahorses, eels, stingrays, eagle rays, sea turtles, west indian manatee, rock lobsters as well as nurse sharks.
Inland, Jamaica’s multiple lakes and waterways are home to freshwater gobies, killifish, snook, jewfish, snapper and mountain mullet.
Please note that the brown recluse spider (aka violin spider) can be found on the island. This is a highly venomous spider that is also found in many southern US states. Jamaica is also home to the mildly (non-lethal) venomous banana spider. Neither of these arachnids are usually encountered by vacationers.
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