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5 breathtaking animals that are native to Cuba

  • Apr 1, 2016

Because of new diplomatic efforts between the United States and Cuba, American citizens may soon be able to travel to the Caribbean island for the first time in decades. The New York Times reported that new hotel brands are opening resorts in Havana and beyond, making a trip to Cuba easier than it has been in years. 

The country is known for classic cars and high-quality cigars, but another less known Cuban tradition is a robust respect for the natural world and fantastic environmental protection measures. As a result, there is expansive wild areas for visitors to explore, but because of shaky political relationships, many of these animals are not well-known to the rest of the world. For anyone considering a trip to Cuba, be sure to grab your Pro Trek triple sensor watch and keep an eye out for these curious critters.

Cuban solenodon
This strange little mammal is native to the forests of southeastern Cuba, according to Take Part. Thought it looks like a shrew, the closest ancestors to this animal have long been extinct. As a result, solenodons are only found in Cuba and nearby Haiti.

This species is unique in the mammal class because it creates a venomous saliva that it injects with its teeth. Unfortunately, the introduction of non-native species and human hunting have severely reduced the number of solenodons that can be found in Cuba. Still, it is an important and emblematic species for the island.

Cuban Trogon
This remarkable bird is much more common than the solenodon, and because of its bright red and blue coloration, it is also much more visible. In fact, it is the country's national bird because it resembles the Cuban flag. Sharp tail feathers and a brightly colored beak also make this bird a unique and beautiful specimen.

Cuban Hutia
PBS stated that this rodent is the largest native land mammal in Cuba. The animal looks like a combination between a beaver and gopher, and though it is largely arboreal, it also spends time foraging on the ground for plant matter as well as small animals to prey on. A three-chambered stomach allows the hutia to digest many different types of food, PBS said.

Caribbean reef shark
Not every special animal that Cuba has to offer can be found on land, and one of the most formidable predators patrols the waters around the island. Found throughout the region, the Caribbean reef shark can grow up to 9 feet in length, although it is relatively shy and skiddish, PBS found.

Sharks have an incredible sense of smell, and the Caribbean reef shark is no exception. Because of a sensory system known as lateral lines, sharks can also detect electrical impulses created by fish and other animals in the environment. As a result, Caribbean reef sharks can seek out prey that is hidden within coral reefs or hidden under sand. These sharks have been known to bite swimmers but are still a marginal threat to beach goers.

Cuban crocodile
Another famous predator that calls Cuba home, this species of crocodile has a limited range as a result of human development and poaching for hides and meat. Still, several thousand Cuban crocodiles are found in the dense mangrove swamps across the country.

Known for its ability to leap through the air to grab hutia and other tree-dwelling prey animals, the Cuban crocodile will also eat fish, lizards and crustaceans. These massive animals can grow to over 13 feet in length, although compared to other crocodilians, it is a smaller species. Having said that, the Cuban crocodile is known to be very aggressive and active.

No matter where you choose to explore in Cuba, make sure to bring the Pro Trek PAG240B-2 on your adventure. With features like a compass, thermometer, and altimeter all built-in, it'll be easy to navigate all the vast Caribbean island has to offer.