Some Common Animals of Jamaica

The Doctor Bird is the national bird of Jamaica. This beautiful split tailed hummingbird is one of a number of hummingbird varieties seen across the island.  It can be seen flying in and out of the many flowers that bloom across the country.


The British brought the mongoose to Jamaica from India in 1872, as a way of controlling poisonous snakes in the sugar cane field. It is about the size of a squirrel, and was so successful that there are now no poisonous snakes left in Jamaica. With no natural predators, they are very common across the island.

Mosquitos are found year round in all tropical areas.  While not nearly as dangerous as the mosquitos of Central America, it is still important to bring DEET based insect repellents, in order to avoid mosquito bites.

Sea turtles are common along the reefs of Jamaica. They lay their eggs on the beaches of the island. While they are protected by law, they are still killed and eaten by many rural Jamaicans in soups and stews.

Dolphins are often seen by boaters, as they sail around Jamaica. These friendly and intelligent mammals are very playful, and enjoy swimming around boats, diving in and out of their wake.

Jellyfish are common in the calmer waters of Jamaica, in and around it’s reefs. The translucent creature come in a variety of sizes, and are best left alone, as some can have a painful sting.

Sea urchins are another common sea creature. They look like little pincushions, and attach themselves to the bottom of the ocean.  They can not hang on to sand, but can be found in the rocks and weeds. If stepped on, a spine may stick in a person’s foot.

Jamaica is the home of the beautiful giant swallowtail butterfly. It is the largest butterfly found in the Western Hemisphere. Most rural Jamaicans refer to butterflies as “bats” (and refer to bats “rat-bats”).

The giant centipede (called a 40-leg) is common to the more lush parts of the island. While not deadly to humans, it can kill small animals. It’s bite is rather like a bee-sting.

Green parrots are common to Jamaica, and can be seen flying in small groups. These noisy birds are very social, and can be found in trees - where their color helps to hide them.

There are a variety of lizards in Jamaica. They are very useful, as they eat mosquito’s. Some change color to blend in with their surroundings.  Many lizards can lose and re-grow their tail, to avoid being caught.

Some portions of the island have scorpions. These non-lethal insects have a painful bite. They carry their babies on their back, and are common in the wetter parts of the island. It is a good idea to empty one’s shoes before putting them on. Look into the shower before stepping in, as they are attracted to the water.

A variety of treefrogs are found throughout Jamaica. These tiny creatures can make a big sound, especially after a rainstorm. At times they can be loud enough to make sleeping difficult. They are quite hard to find, typically coming out at night, and hiding on the underside of leaves.