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Tikal Wildlife - Animals & Birds

Just as interesting as the ruins, is the tropical forest filled with animals. Early in the morning or late in the day, the jungle comes alive with “las voces de la selva,” the voices of the jungle.  There are hundreds of birds in Tikal – parrots, hummingbirds, toucans, woodpeckers, owls, and the yellow and black oropendula birds that make long, dangling nests in the trees in the Great Plaza.

Tikal Wildlife Photo Album
  Leaf cutter ants While walking on the trails through the park, look on the ground for "ant freeways." On these "roads" that criss-cross the trails, you'll see leaf cutter ants marching in long line lines, carrying fresh green leaves and other heavy loads from trees to the big "mother" nest. We saw an especially big nest on the trail at the corner of Temple 38, going in the direction of Group G.
  Howler and spider monkeys In the trees, if you hear sounds like roaring big cats, it's actually howler monkeys. The howler monkeys band together in trees, and make the loud noises for protection, to scare away predators such as jaguars.
      Kids will also see spider monkeys gracefully leaping from branch to branch (but don't stand underneath them, they do poop.)
  Coatimundis – The delightful coatimundis (raccoon family) have long swishy tails and run around in groups. One morning on our way to breakfast, we saw the coatimundis climbing up the tree next to the ticket kiosk at the entrance, and eating the fruits with their paws. Cute as they are, don't feed them.

Agouti The shy agoutis look sort of like a squirrel with long legs, and unlike the social coatimundis, we only saw solo agoutis, which hurriedly ran for the bushes when they spotted us.

  Wild turkeys Look for wild “ocellated” turkeys, sporting a powder blue head with orange bumps and iridescent feathers. We encountered some wild turkeys on the road outside the ruins, near the local eateries (comedores). The turkeys looked so well-fed, my kids called them “stomach on sticks.” The feathers from the turkeys are used to decorate lovely corn husk dolls.
  Jaguars – Jaguars do live in Tikal National Park, but they are hard to spot. We didn't see any during our visit, but there were sightings by other people, around dusk.
  Tarantulas On a jungle walk at night, we saw tons of "mini-tarantulas," tiny black and brown striped spiders, scurrying around on the leaves.
  Birds Many different kinds of birds make their home in the park, including migratory birds. The easiest bird to spot are the ones that makes the hanging nests in the trees - the black and yellow oropendula. We also saw keel-billed and emerald toucans, red lored parrots, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, and a trogon (beautiful red and green relative of the quetzal bird).

Crocodiles in the lake Follow the trail around Tikal Lake (Aguada Tikal, across from the ticket kiosk). There are crododiles in the water, their eyes and long snout poking above the surface. There's also lots of frogs hopping around and bumpy toads (blend in perfectly with the leaves on the ground).

  Fer-de-lance There is one poisonous snake in the Tikal forests - the fer de lance (barba amarilla). It's brownish, with triangular patterns, and do not get near it. On a reassuring note, the snake is nocturnal and the first aid station in Tikal has a serum for fer-de-lance bites.
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