Mexico’s Extraordinary and Unique Animals
In a country where ecosystems switch from one to another, how could there not be an overwhelming variety of species. Fish, mammals, reptiles, birds: the range is amazing. Plus, some animals only exist here and are, therefore, the pride of the country.
Beware, some of them are in danger of extinction. Do you want to know what animals we’re referring to?
Julimes Pupfish (Chihuahua)
These inch and-a-half-long gray and silver fish swim in temperatures of 100 - 115 °F and inhabit the world’s smallest ecosystem: the 942-square-foot hotspring known as “El Pandeño”. So, they’re in the running for two Guinness records: the vertebrate inhabiting the highest temperatures in the world and the vertebrate with the smallest habitat.
Oaxacan Caecilian (Pacific Ocean: from Jalisco to Chiapas)
This amphibian found on the Pacific coast looks like a worm, because it has no limbs or waist. Its body is made up of 200 vertebrae; its eyes are covered with skin and they just barely perceive light. It feeds on insects, frogs and snakes.
Large-Crested Toad (Eastern Sierra Madre: Puebla and Veracruz)
With a large, thick crest, males measure 2 and females nearly 3.5 inches. If you look at them carefully, they’ll hypnotize you with their black-splotched golden irises. A critically endangered species, according to the IUCN red list, they live in oak cloud forests.
Balsas Coral Snake (Jalisco to Oaxaca, Morelos and Puebla)
They live on the Pacific coast and Balsas basin, and their colorful palette includes blacks, yellows and whites. Found near ant and termite nests, in rodent dens or cracks in rocks, they feed on little snakes, lizards, frogs, worms and rodents.
Aquatic Box Turtle (Cuatro Ciénegas, Coahuila, Nuevo León and Tamaulipas)
They’re dark brown, have a soft shell and live in lakes, waterholes, swamps and shallow ponds. They spend a lot of time buried in the mud or underneath vegetation, and they feed on water plants and insects. They appear on the IUCN red list, meaning they’re in danger of extinction.
Desert Turtle (Bolsón de Mapimí: Durango, Coahuila and Chihuahua)
Their shell measures about 14 cm. They hibernate in the winter and are lethargic when the summer temperature is high. Their diet consists of low-lying plants, leaves that have fallen on the ground, bark, vines and grasses. They grunt, make snapping sounds and calls for help when looking for a mate.
Pygmy Rattlesnake (Mexican High Plateau: Morelos, Puebla and Oaxaca)
Between 16 and 24 in. long, they are found amidst fallen leaves or rocks, and you may come upon them in conifer forests just as in mesquite woods. Sometimes they may be seen in the morning, sunning themselves like iguanas or lizards. They eat the latter, as well as insects, and small mammals.
Tehuantepec Jackrabbit (Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca)
Sleek body; long, pointy ears; dark head; elongated cranium. They live beneath bushes and grow between 22 and 24 inches long, with ears that are between 4.5 and 5 in. They live in barren lands and scrub-covered dunes and are in danger of extinction due to habitat loss.
Vaquita Marina (Upper Gulf of California: Baja California and Sonora)
They are 60 in. long and weigh 110 lb. They’re very timid and barely surface to breathe, travel alone or in small groups, and their full reproduction cycle takes nearly 2 years. The IUCN has considered the vaquita, or harbor porpoise, a critically endangered species since 1996. Fewer than 40 of them are left, in 2017.
Mexican Ajolote (Mexico City)
Between 12 and 16 inches long, they are generally brown, though in captivity there are variations, with albino and pink the general public’s favorites. One of their main traits is the ability to regenerate certain parts of their body, such as limbs and tail.