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Hacienda Chichen's private Maya Jungle Reserve
Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico
No one can deny the
beauty, grace, and power of a big feline such as the
Jaguar, Panthera onca,
King of the Maya Jungle. His natural territory used to cover this
region but such is no longer the case. It is a
good thing you will not encounter him in your nature walks at our
Thus, nature lovers can enjoy close contact with other Yucatan
Hacienda Chichen private
Maya Jungle Reserve. In this
article you will find brief info and photos of some wonderful animal
residents protected in our property. We hope you will enjoy
observing their beauty and the lushness of their environment and
find in your heart a vital desire to protect them as much as all
living expressions in Mother Nature.
of the most gentle and shy mammals in
at our Maya Jungle
Nature Reserve, is the White-tail Deer, Odocoileus virginianus,
this deer in Yucatan is a bit smaller than those found in USA and
the rest of Mexico. Graceful and lively, the "Ceh" as it
is called in Maya, has diurnal habits and can be spotted at dawn and
twilight hours grazing on different herbs, shrubs, and fruits, or
near "aguadas and sartinejas" water spots. In Yucatan, these
mammals are hunted specially by farmers as an important protein
source to rural families. Our reserve brings safety
and protection to pregnant females and their offspring, and
occasionally a few solitary adult male animals.
is an ant eater mammal
that can reach over 5 ft. and weight eight or
more pounds. Their snout is long and thin with
no teeth but a very long, retractile, and sticky.
These shy solitary nocturnal mammals have a
light yellow grayish white fur, strong big claws,
fur, strong long tail that helps stabilize them as
they go from branch to branch searching for a
colony of termites, ants, and insects that hide
or live inside tree bark and trunks. The mammal Tamandua mexicanais known by
as "Ahchab" and was hunted massively but now
it is protected to restore its wild population to
continue controlling the insect species density
in Yucatan and Mexico. These animals are shy,
solitary and active during twilight and at night
the ant-eaters distribute their time strolling the
ground and tree branches in deciduous forests.
many ways are the most
charming mammals to observe in Yucatan, they love jumping through tree branches at dusk in
search of ripe avocados and mamey fruits. Nocturnal, lively, and
very likable, Kinkajous can be domesticated as pets but we prefer to
enjoy them in their natural wild habitat.
Maya people call them
"Ak'ab ma'x" or "mico" the Spanish name for Kinkajou. Their
body moves with grace atop fruit trees and royal palms in search of
foods or insects. They are great seed dispensers and
pollinators. Their long tail makes them look like monkeys but
watch their face!
coati, Nasua narica, known to the Maya as "Chiic."
Charming small mammals can reach the size of a common domestic cat distinguished for its very long tail, carry erect
most of the time. These mammals' have long pointy snouts; their fur has a cinnamon color with yellowish undertones. Coatis have truly defined facial marking with white rings circling
the eyes. A ground dweller active during the daytime; males are solitary, females and cubs travel together in groups of six or more. Loves fallen trunks to dig its burrows. An omnivorous mammal, the coati feeds on fruit, seeds, small mammals, birds, eggs and even insects. Lives in various regions in Yucatan and at our Maya Jungle Reserve is often found in our low bush areas, in "rejoyadas" and around the
is the Maya name for a
Margay, Leopardus wiedii, a
small wild cat that is a joy to observe in the wild dense tree tops;
at maturity weights an
average of ten pounds. Long, slender body, short dense
spotted fur, small face and big eyes, the Margay is the only feline
to live in the
Maya Jungle Reserve
in Chichen Itza, a private
wildlife reserve in Yucatan that the
Hacienda Chichen protects, the
species is in danger of extinction and its population severely
decreased by illegal hunting and reduction of its habitat.
Considered a rare species by Mexican law this lively nocturnal
feline hides in deciduous disturbed areas at the crown of tall
trees. Resting on branches during the day, Margays mark their
territory and feed on small animals.
weasel,Mustela frenata, known to
the Maya as "Sabin." A charming small mammal
with a slim long body and shinny red brown fur
a top and bright yellow fur under. Their faces
have a long pointy snout, and two white lines
of fur that create a mask effect from snout to
chin. A nocturnal ground dweller active during
the daytime as well, may climb trees nimbly to
catch its pray. Eats fowl, rodents and reptiles.
In the wild, the weasels' charming, intelligent,
and personality is a joy to watch. Adapts well
in various regions, in Yucatan within our Maya
Jungle Reserve, weasels are found in low bush
areas, in "rejoyadas," and around the cenotes.
Known as slippery chiefs, weasels' quick ways
have earned them many representations in our
cartoon prototypes of devious charming thieves.
och" is the name in Maya for the
Striped hog nosed skunk, Conepatus semiestriatus.He can be seen in low deciduous
tropical forest and grass areas. Considered a rare species by
Mexican law this little fellow is never hunted. A ground dweller
with nocturnal habits, hardly ever found during the day; likes to
feed mainly with insects although can eat fruits and lizards. A
thick black hairy fur with striking white stripes that run from the
nose to the sides of the body ending in its fuzzy lush hairy tail;
has a long neck and a long snout. Paws with five toes and big sharp
nails; it moves in diagonal ways when it gallops or runs. We advise
you not to disturbed them to avoid their fetid potent odor.
is a shy
nocturnal small mammal named "Uech" by the Mayas. A likeable
chubby fellow with a strong ossified armor that has nine flexible
bands and shields that cover the entire upper body. In
the armadillo can be found with brown or a dark gray color skin an
armor. Moving slow and digging hard, the armadillo is more gentle
and likeable that an aggressive wild animal. Feeds mainly on
termites,beetles, etc. Hunted for its
delicious tender meat by the Maya farmers as well as for its armor
to create crafts, armadillo population has decreased rapidly in Yucatan.
bat, Rhogeessa aeneus, Family Vespertiliondae, a small
insectivorous bat endemic to the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Bats are
the only mammals naturally capable of true sustained flight. Bats
forelimps form webbed wings and their spread-out digits are long and
covered with a thin membrane or patafium, which bats flap to fly.
Bats perform vital ecological roles. Bats in Maya mythology have an
important role as they transcend from the underworld (caves) to the
celestial realm. All bats are protected at Hacienda Chichen where
other bat species are found: Mexican Long-tongued, Lesser dog-like
bat, and more.
the Hacienda Chichen's Bird Refuge and Maya Jungle Reserve in
Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico, guests and visitors feel the joy of
communing with Mother Nature's wildlife, its
Maya flora (plants) and
(animals), as the
melodies and sight of birds capture guests' hearts! For a full bird
photo and ID album go to our:
to Yucatan and protected in our Nature Reserve,
Oscellated turkey, Agriocharis ocellata,
is known to the Maya as the grand "Kutz". Males have a
lovely plumage of iridescent golden yellow, violent, indigo
blue, metalic greens and white; their head and neck color
has deep hues of blue and violet with protuberances like
a domestic turkey. Their tails have a semi-circular pattern
near the end of the feathers. Found only in Yucatan, the
Oscellated turkey feeds on seeds, shoots or insects, lives
in small family groups within deciduous low bush forest. A
ground dweller that can not be domesticated and nests in
dense forest spots, sleeping at tree top branches. Mayan
families enjoy to eat these shy and easy to disrupt birds.
majestic looking Turquoise-browed motmot
or "Toh" as the Maya
named this bird, Eumomota superciliosa, has distinctive multi-color
plumage a light turquoise crown, black eye marks, and two long tail
semi-naked feathers with a drop like decorative shape tip. The
Blue-crowned motmot, Motmotus momota (right photo) also named
"Toh" by the Mayas, has similar facial marks and multi green/blue
feathers with yellow/orange bellies, though its two semi-naked tail
feathers are a bit shorter. Toh birds are among the few cave
dwellers species, nesting in wells and Yucatan's cenotes.
males have a distinctive color pattern plumage:
bright red from their peak's bottom to their belly and tail.
backs have bright metallic hues of green, while their head blends
deep indigo blue with violet tones, plus a red circle eye-line.
beautiful bird is a permanent resident in the Maya Jungle Reserve
in Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico. Passerine ciris
a pale brown back and yellow/green belly. They inhabit mid - low
scrubland and forest. Shy, reproduces near water areas in wood
dense wild sites. Feeds on seeds, small fruits, and some insects.
At the Hacienda Chichen Bird Refuge it is seen near the pool area.
will find Summer tanager birds, Piranga rubra,
at dawn or during the day perching within our gardens. Males have a distinctive bright red
scarlet plumage all over the body but the wings which are a bit
darker. A female has a olive-yellow plumage. Although Summer
tanager are birds known to migration, at the Hacienda Chichen Nature
Maya Jungle Reserve guests and visitors may see these scarlet
beautiful birds almost all year
around. The main diet of these birds is filled with seeds,
insects, or tropical fruits.
Green Jay, Cyanocorax yucas,
is known in Yucatan as
the majestic "Ses Ib" birds. These wild birds' plumage stands out
with beautiful shades of green on back and wings. A blue-violet
shade top with black marking bib coming from the head sides and
throat. The green tail has yellow feathers on each side that are
seen as it flies. Green Jays inhabit well preserved low or medium
forest, feeding on fruits, tender shoots and flowers. Breeds and
nests in deep foliage areas. Enjoys flying solitary but it is
to fly in groups of two or more during mating season. Yucatan's
side roads and open forest areas are perfect places to find them.
The Yucatan jay, Cyanocorax yucatecanicus,
is an endemic bird species that Maya call "Ch'el." This is a jay with brilliant
turquoise blue plumage on back and wings, bright yellow peak, feet,
and eyeliner, with black feather head, throat, and belly. Breeds in undisturbed wooded areas, nesting in small flocks.
Can be seen eating near
banana and fruit crops, or on the ground
some insects and seeds. Flies in small groups and enjoys pastures
and open fields; very talkative and social. The Yucatan Jay is
a medium size bird that can be observed all times of the day.
Females birds have black peaks and feet.
woodpecker, Melanerpes pygmaeous, is known
to Maya people as a "Ch'ujum." This woodpecker is endemic
to the Yucatan, living in low forest with plenty of insects to
feed; loves the coconut plantation at
Hacienda Chichen, an
area that many families of Yucatan woodpeckers reside year
round. Nests and breeds in old hollow wood branches where
up to four eggs may be incubated for 23 days. Fascinating
birds have black and white strips backs
and wings plumage,
and a pale yellow/brown body; the forehead yellow spot is
clearly mark and the crest is vivid red. A large strong peak
with a very long retractable tongue supported by a strong
tendon attached to the skull of these birds help them feed.
parrots, "T'uut" in Maya, are another endemic birds, the species
is only found in the
Yucatan Peninsula, These birds travel in flocks from feeding grounds
to their roosting sites. Parrots are
monogamous for life and become good pets; but are best enjoy flying
free in their medium forest habitat. Yucatan parrots love to fly together in small groups to feed on fruits, seeds, flowers
tree branches. Talkative and noisy, their plumage is mainly
emerald green with indigo blue outline wing feathers; when in
flight, their red patched wings can be observed clearly. At the
forehead, these birds have a patch of yellow feathers near the peak,
a white spot covers the head top, red
feather near eyes.
is also known as the Rainbow
billed toucan and it inhabits the tropical south forest
in Colombia to Yucatan. The Ramphastos sulfuratus,
are beautiful, colorful birds so attractive and elegant,
they area a joy to observe in the wild. A Keel toucan
has black body, belly, and tail plumage, blue eyeliner,
and a yellow or white bib shaped chest.
and seeds, enjoys flying in small groups to perch atop
lush tree canopy. The large peak is light in weight for
it is built as a sponge soft bone covered in keratin a
very waxy protein. The Keel-billed toucan roosts in a
hollow old tree branch with other toucans of the flock.
Very sociable bird that is a joy to watch in the wild as
it flies with his small flock from tree top to tree top.
on tree top branches you will find the
Orange Oriole, Icterus
auratus, an endemic bird species found only in Yucatan
Peninsula. The male all body is covered with bright deep yellow with
under hues of orange plumage; the wings are black with clearly
marked white bands, the eye and neck have some areas of black
plumage. It inhabits low forest and areas with
flower trees, eats nectar, insects, seeds, and a few seeds. Nests
with other birds of its kind, sociable and adapted, the Orange
oriole, weaves impressive nests from plant fibers and tree or grass
cuts; its nest are large, made out of straw and dry sticks
artistically woven to hang.
Hawk (Buteo nitidus) is a neo-tropical raptor or
bird of prey that breeds in the Hacienda Chichen's lush royal palms
and forest edges. This beautiful raptor is know to the Maya as
Adult Gray hawks can reach up to 50cm in
height and hunt for food primarily using its talons; this raptor
eats lizards, snakes and other small animals. Gray hawks
display a characteristic curved tip to their beak and have superb
vision; they have pale grey body, black tail with three white bands
and strong orange legs; gray hawks are short winged with a fast
agile flight. Territorial in nature; their nest usual has two pale
blue white eggs.
Black-throated bobwhite, Colinus nigrogularis, "Bech" in
Yucatan night-jar, Caprimulgus badius, called "Box Pujuy" in
Maya. Yucatan poorwill, Nyctiphrynus yucatanius, called "Chac Pujuy"
in Maya. Mexican sheartail, Dorich eliza, an emerald green humming
bird, "Dzunum" in Maya. Yucatan flycatcher, Myiarchus yucatanesis, known in Maya as a
" X'takay " Ridway's rough-winged swallow, Stelgidopteryx serripennis, or
"Cutzam" in Maya. Yucatan wren, Campylorhynchus yucatanicus, called " Yan coti"
in Maya. Black catbird, Melapnotilia glabrirostris, or Box Chika' in
Maya. Orange oriole, Icterus auratus, " yuyum" in Maya,
popular in our Bird Refuge. Rose-throated tanager, Piranga roseogularis, rare to
observe but can be heard. Blue Grosbeak, Guiraca caerulea.
Yucatan vireo, Vireo magister,
Yellow-throated Warbler,Dendroica dominica, Rufous-breasted SpinetailSynallaxis
Pachyramphus aglaiae, is a winter migratory resident easy to
spot at Hacienda Chichen Bird Refuge and beautiful gardens.
Rose-throated becards are small flycatcher birds with gray
upperparts, large head with a black feather cap, a fairly large pale
rose-red throat spot, and pale gray underparts. Rose throated
becards love to catche insects in flight and eat larvae, fruits and
small wild berries. Their flight is often for short distances
with rapid shallow wingbeats. Rose-throated
becard lays two to six white with brown blotches eggs and builds
large foot-long globular nests, with bottom entrance.
Passerina cyanea, showcases deep turquoise indigo blue plumage
all over with a black mark in front of eyes, when in mating season
(male photo); this beautiful indigo song-bird is found in Hacienda
Chichen during its migratory winter season (Nov. to March each
year); prefers undisturbed lush forest areas and rejoyadas, to
observe Indigo bunting birds stroll gently through the hotel's Maya
Indigo Buntings migrate at night, using the
stars for guidance; since they learn their night sky orientation as
young birds observing the stars.
The female plumage has pale brown upper feathers.
Piaya cayana (Kip Cho in Maya) is a
rather large bird averaging 46 cm long. A shy bird
is found in woodlands and semi-open jungle hedges;
Squirrel Cuckoo birds fly only short distances, leaping
from branch to branch feeding on large insects such
as spiders, caterpillars, wasps, and sometimes fruit.
Squirrel Cuckoo plumage has a cinnamon or chestnut
upperparts covering the top head, then paler on the
throat with an almost pink tone. The lower breast and
belly are grayish. Squirrel Cuckoo's long tail feathers
have black with white band-like tips. The bill is lime
and the iris is red. These beautiful birds call makes
sharp "kip! weeuu sounds and whistles long wheeps. Females lay 2 or 3 eggs on leaf and twit high nests.
Yucatan wren,Campylorhynchus yucatanicus, called "Yan coti" in Maya.
An endemic bird classified as a "near threatened" due to its limited
habitat range confined to the Yucatan Peninsula northern region
including north-west Campeche, in Mexico. Yucatan wren birds enjoy
scattered bushes, pastures, and the bushy edges of the Hacienda
Chichen's Bird Refuge grounds where they are protected. It
borages in pairs and in family groups on the ground, diet is still
unknown but possibly eats small grass seeds in low vegetation areas.
Nests and breeds around March and May in ovoid grass nests inside
Myiozetetes similis (X'takay in Maya) is a member of the tyrant
flycatcher bird family. Social flycatcher
birds plumage resemble Boat-billed flycatchers and Great kiskadee birds;
but social flycatcher adult birds are smaller,
18 cm. long. The head has a dark almost black crown with
strong white eye stripes; their upperparts are olive brown, wings and
tail have gray brown tones. Social flycatcher belly
and underparts have bright yellow feathers and the throat is white.
At the Hacienda Chichen these cheerful birds' calls chips-k'-cheery
are sang all day long to the enjoyment of guests and visiting birders.
Social flycatcher birds love to
perch in the open and feed on small berries. They nest near water spots
from February to June. Full time residents at the
Hacienda Chichen where they perch happy near our guests.
Ortalis vetula (Baach in Maya) Laughing falcon,
Herpetotheres cachinnans (Kos in Maya) Rudy ground dove,
Columbina talpacoti (Chak Mucuy in Maya) Squirrel Cuckoo,
Piaya cayana (Kip Cho in Maya) Groove billed ani,
Crotophaga sulcirostris ( Chic Bul in
Maya) Barn owl,Tyto alba ( Xoch' in Maya) Ferruginious pygmy owl,
Glaucidium brasilianum ( X;nuk
in Maya) Green breasted mango, Anthracothorax prevostii (Dzunum, all
hummingbirds) Rubby throated hummingbird,Archilochus colubris, (Dzunum
Maya) Buff billied hummingbird,Amazilla yucatanensis (Dzunum in Maya) Lineated woodpecker, Dryocopus lineatus (Colonte in Maya) Great kiskadee, Pitangus sulphuratus, ( X'takay in Maya all
similar birds in colors) Boat-billed flycatcher,
Megarynchus pitangus (X'takay in Maya) Social flycatcher, Myiozetetes similis (X'takay in Maya) Tropical king bird,
Tyranius melancholius (X'takay in Maya) Mask tityra,
Tityra semifasciata, (Pelan K'euel in Maya) Rufous browed peppershrike,
Cyclartis gujanensis, ( Yax chii
in Maya) Clay color robin,
Turdus greyi, ( X'Kok in Maya ) Summer tanager,
Piranga rubra (Chac'chii in Maya) Great tail grackle,
Quiscalus mexicanus (X'Kau in Maya) Melodious black-bird,
Dives dives ( Pich in Maya ) Gray hawk,
Asturina nitida, (Yoksadz in Maya) Hooded oriole, Icterus cucullutus ( Yuyum in Maya, same all
yellow orioles ) Altamira oriole,
Icterus gularis ( Yuyum in Maya, same
all yellow orioles )
Birding in Yucatan
at Hacienda Chichen
brings joy to the soul and a bit of work to the mind when
encountering similar bird species such as the Indigo Bunting and the
Blue Grosbeak, and the Lazuli Bunting males.
Tips to distinguish Blue Grosbeak and Indigo Bunting males: though
both birds share overall blue bodies with darker wings and tail, the
Blue Grosbeak is a lager bird in size, has prominent rusty wing-bars
and a larger and is generally found in more open habitats than
Indigo Buntings. Also the Blue Grosbeak is less common. Indigo
Bunting, Blue Grosbeak and Lazuli Bunting females and juvenile birds
are truly difficult to tell apart even for professional birders.
There are a hundred other non-endemic bird species observed as
regular residents of the
Bird Refuge at
Hacienda Chichen Bird Refuge in Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico,
of them have found a peaceful safe heaven to nest, breed, and enjoy
their natural habitat gifts; also guests and local workers have
learned to admire and protect these creatures. We wish to
share Yucatan's animal kingdom with future generations; therefore,
caring and protecting animals and their habitat is our mission.
For Yucatan birding activities and birding guided tours in the
Yucatan, we recommend you contact Chichen Services via email:
or visit their site:
to find which Yucatan Nature and / or Yucatan
Birding Vacation Package is best for you!
Black Spiny-tailed Iguana,
Ctenosaura similis, is called "Toloc" in Maya; a permanent resident at Hacienda Chichen
Maya Jungle Reserve and hotel gardens. It is the fastest running lizard known on Earth; one of the largest iguanas worldwide, this iguana can reach one and a half meters in length. It has distinctive skin markings and a sharp crest of spines running on its back. Adults marking and black scale bands vary from iguana to iguana, so a variety of coloration and designs are observed within the species. Excellent climber, Black Spiny tailed iguanas prefer rocky dry habitats to rest or sunbath, diurnal with a great appetite for
flowers, young shoots, leaves, occasionally eats insects. Males develop blue hues during matting season.
slider, Trachemysscripta elegans, is a small turtle with broad
reddish or orange stripe behind each eye; with, pale yellow white,
yellow green and dark green markings in their skin and
carapace. Young hatchlings have deeper markings than adult
sliders; the carapace is oval and with a flattened. There is sexual
dimorphism, females are larger than males. Breeding occurs
from March to July, eggs are incubated in water spots such as "sartinejas"
and "Salstuns" found as part of the "laja" or limestone formations
deep in the
Maya Jungle Reserve at Hacienda Chichen. Water
temperatures determine if the eggs hatch female or male sliders,
females need warmer water temperatures than males.
Yucatan Banded Gecko, Coleonyx elegans elegans, are nocturnal
small geckos, about six inches in length and lives primary in rocky
habitats; strictly terrestrial creature with very elegant skin marks
or bands and a red brown skin, one of Yucatan's most colorful
reptiles, rare to spot the Yucatan Banded Gecko has sharp pointy
toes, movable eyelids, eye pupil is narrow with a vertical slit.
Because of its sharply decorative vivid colors and skin, local Maya
consider this gecko deadly, but such is not the case, this beautiful
rare animal is shy and prefers not to be noticed, although
nocturnal, it can be spotted in the daytime at our
Reserve in a protected habitat.
Coral snake, Micrurus hippocrepis, a thin colorful
nocturnal snake found also at Maya forest and
Maya Jungle Nature
Reserve; it can be seen during the day as well moving under dry
leafs. Maya and other Coral snakes can be distinguished from a
number of similarly colored harmless snakes by the fact that they
are the only ones with red bands touching yellow ones (left photo).
The body is ringed with bands of black, red, and yellow; the tail
has yellow and black rings only (right photo). The venom of coral
snakes, like that of cobras, acts on the nervous system and causes
paralysis; the mortality rate among humans who are bitten (snake
chews rapidly) is high. Maya coral snakes move are infrequently
encountered because of their burrowing habits, and they seldom bite
unless molested and handled, their teeth are very small and will not
brake through thick leather hiking boots or other hard leather
shoes. They feed on other snakes and lizards. Learn more about
other venomous snakes
Blanchard's Milk Snake,
Lampropeltis triangulum blanchardi,
Snake, native to the Yucatan, can easily be mistaken by a Maya Coral snake, yet they are
harmless but their skin mimics the colors of a Coral snake to
protect themselves from predators. Scarlet King snakes are not
venomous but it is best to avoid getting close to it, if you do not remember how the
banded color sequence of the pattern is: red next to black is not a coral snake!
Snail eater, Dipsas brevifacies,
is an endemic nocturnal snake to the Yucatan from the Dipsadidae
Family, and the subfamily Xenodontinae. It is one of the
legally protected snake species in Mexican Conservation Laws. It is
also known in English as the Thirst snake. It inhabits dry thorn
forest and deforested areas being Chichen Itza one of them. A
slender terrestrial non-venomous snake, often no longer than 24".
Snail eater snakes have alternating black and golden yellow ring
pattern skin. An arboreal snake that feeds on land snails and slugs.
Snail eaters' heads are similar in shape to the coral snakes: blunt
and just a bit wider than the body.
Smidt's Striped Snake,
Coniophanes schmidti, is
a thin brownish black body snake with two well defined bright yellow
pale colored strips that run parallel to each other through out the
snake's body. Its under belly color is a pale creamy tone of white;
This snake feeds on small lizards and frogs, lives in many parts of
North Yucatan and at the the Maya
forest preserve areas that are not disturbed.
A beautiful long snake found in the Maya forest and
Jungle Reserve is Yucatan Blunt-headed tree snake, Imantodes
tenuissimus, endemic species to Yucatan,
has a wide square like bulky head and a narrow neckline
with vey bulky round shape eyes (see photo). The skin
scales are shinny and form triangle like shapes of light
soft beige/grey sections, wide bellow narrowing as they
reach the top; and dark chocolate brown, almost black,
triangular sections, wide a top narrowing to the bottom.
Enjoys resting on tree branches near bromeliad clusters.
The Yucatan Blunt headed tree snake feeds on rodents,
birds, frogs, and other snake; lives in deciduous forests.
Coffee-Snake Ninia Sebae,
is a perfectly harmless snake that Maya people sometimes confuse
with the deadly Coral Snake, but this small creature is harmless.
This secretive snake has a black forehead and a dull yellow/orange
face with a black collar neck and deep dark red body. Red
Coffee Snakes are found often in tropical forest litter and
pastures, feeding mostly on
earthworms, slugs and land snails.
In Spanish is known as "Dormilona" (Sleeper) because it has a
peculiar fainting behavior to appear dead when its vicious-looking
defensive head-spreading doesn't frighten away predators. If you see
one, please don't panic or kill it, it is not aggressive.
Constrictor, B. c. Imperator,
from the Boidea Family of snakes, is non-venomous boa
constrictor subspecies found in the Yucatan, where Maya people call
it Chij' can or Chij-chan; boa constrictors are also
found in other regions of Mexico and Central America. This
nocturnal snake feeds by suffocating small to mid-size animals. Boa
constrictors' skin pattern and color differs depending on the
specific location it inhabits. In Chichen Itza, at the Maya Jungle
Reserve of Hacienda Chichen Resort, boa constrictor species here
have deep gray, light gray, and white skin pattern coloration as
well as other spotted have brown, golden tan, and light cream,
almost soft pink skin pattern coloration; measuring over 3 meters in
The Morpho butterfly, Morpho menelaus, belongs
to the Morphidae family. This amazingly beautiful has
iridescent - blue inside its wings; yet the designs
of the wings' back side resembles wood like camouflage
with shades of brown, pale ochre, and beige with a top
circular design similar to an owl's eye. It undergoes four distinct
phases of metamorphoses. Eggs are pale green
eggs like dewdrops. Its
caterpillars have top red-brown
bright large patches of
lime-green, plus toxic stinging
hairs. Morpho caterpillars feed on leaves but they are cannibalistic as
well. Morpho are diurnal and drink juice
out of dew, rotten sweet
fruits, specially bananas. They
fly with a peaceful low
flow and enjoy shady places and
low foliage as much as too ripe bananas and other fruit.
Orange Yellow Sulphur butterflies are
common to the Yucatan Maya forest and Chichen Itza's Maya Jungle
Reserve as well as at rural roads with little traffic. All
butterflies undergo also four stages of metamorphoses: egg, larva,
inactive pupal stage and a fascinating transformation:
metamorphosis. This deep yellow butterfly is diurnal and feeds on
nectar found in fruits and flowers; for that reason it has a coiled
sucking mouthpart. This species
belongs to the members of the Papilionoidea family. Many
plants depend on butterflies like this lovely Orange Yellow beauty
Dramatic and elegant, the Zebra Heliconia belongs to the
family of Nymphalidae,
it is a Brush - footed butterfly that
displays black and pale yellow, almost white, stripped wings with spot bright lime green marking in the body. The caterpillar enjoys
passion vine plant to feed upon. Zebra Heliconia is a nocturnal
creature. Female lays 5 to 12 eggs on its favorite host
plant leaves. As a caterpillar, the Zebra heliconia feeds
on hosting plant
until its time to be in its pupa stage; as
a Zebra Heliconia butterfly prefers moist areas in the forest and open field
and feeds on flower nectar and pollens. It enjoys
and lantana flower plants to feed upon.
A Neo-tropical butterfly, the
Malachite, Siproeta stelenes,has la large wing span with a lovely design of black
liner and a brilliant emerald green or yellow-green on the upper
sides. The wings, typically with a 10 cm. wingspread, have
under-sides colored with light brown and olive green
following the same pattern. This beautiful butterfly enjoys low
bushy fields and palm plantations. It feeds in flowers nectar and
rotting fruit. Femailes lay eggs on new ruellia plant
leafs. Larvae are horned, spiny black cartepillars with read
butterfly, Danaus plexippus, is a
milkweed butterfly, in the family Nymphalidae. It is perhaps
Mexico's best known butterfly. Female monarchs have darker veins on
their wings, while males have a spot in the center of each hind-wing
and are a bit larger. Their eggs are creamy white and later turn
pale yellow. Monarchs are known for their lengthy annual
migration; thus they are temporary visitors,
Hacienda Chichen Maya Jungle Reserve, Chichen
Fireflies are not really "flies" but beetles, members of the family
Lampyridae, within the Coleoptera order. Most
fireflies, also known as lightening bugs, are bioluminescent
asadults, fireflies emanate cool pale yellow, green, or blue light
in intervals Firefly larvae are found in rotting wood or forest
litter. Adult fireflies stay in the same general habitats as
their larvae. At the
Maya Jungle Reserve and
Hacienda Chichen, most
firefly are found in warm days near humid areas during summer.
beetles are from the family Scarabaeidae, which groups over
species of scarabs or robust or stout beetles with bright metallic green
hard body covering forewings is called "elytra" which protects the
delicate beetle's wings.
There are beetles like the Bess beetle that do not fly and its "elytra"
is fused to its body.
Beetles have distinctive well defined antennas with odor sensors (left
arthropod invertebrate insect that always bring us a
smile with deep joy. Ladybugs have oval to semi-circular convex
bodies; their "elytra"
colors range from bright yellow to scarlet with a few black spots on it.
This little insect
flies away if frighten but is very comfortable being handled by a
Green June beetles,
nitida, love to feed off any leafy bush such as a hibiscus or
any lush shrubs; adults of the Green June beetles have a dull velvety
bright lime green a
top with yellow markings (see right photo). One generation of
adults matures each year.
Ka'nan Dzu'nut is
the Mayan name given to this beautiful moth. A true master of
disguise, this elegant camouflage month avaids at Hacienda Chichen
Mayan Forest Reserve. Its intriguing wings and body camouflage
design and patterns resembles dried twits and stems in a truly
efficient pattern of color, texture, and movement. Camouflage body
designs help decrease the vulnerability of any moth as it rest in
forest debri in broad daylight. Ka'nan Dzu'nut is a perfect
example of geometrid moths, displaying an asymmetric organic design
offers protection from its Mayan forest predators. Its legs
are shaped and colored as twigs with uneven angles, a great
protective adaptation. Its antennae are perfect feathery
The Meliponabees belong to a genus of stingless bee
widespread in warm areas of the globe. In Yucatan, the
melipona bee honey is highly valued by the
Maya for its rich
sweet-herbal taste and light amber clear color. In Mexico and
Yucatan, the melipona bee is a great pollinator of the vanilla
orchid, vanilla planifolia, and nowadays it is always present
in its green-house production to increase crops. Melipona bees
are closely related to the sting bee. This little bees are
active all year and at
Hacienda Chichen their numbers have increased
since the hotel places great protective measurements to avoid
fumigation or harm. In Yucatan current meliponi-culture of the Maya
is of great value.
Neo-Tropical Yucatan Honey Bees have a range of of
of the Africanized bees with the European
genetic analysis of Yucatan's honey bees shows that hybrid honey bee populationinclude many bee colonies with intermediate
morphologies. Genotypes of mitochondria have disassociated from
regular correlatedAfricanized / European morphology collected data; thus, producing diverse phenotypic
Thus, size of resident Europeanpopulation may be important in explaining previously reportedasymmetrical bee hybridization resulting in higher production of
pure honey now
Mayas in Yucatan, Mexico.
are incredible number and varieties of Paper Wasps, in
different ones, but all have two things in common, they can cause
incredible irritation and pain if they get to sting you, and they
spend hours building up high their paper fiber nests in the style of
honeybee combs. Paper wasps like most other insects, are
fascinating to watch; there is no biological boundary between a wasp
and a bee, both belong to the Hymenoptera family, so do ants.
The most common wasp found in Chichen Itza is from the sub-family
Polistinae (right photo). Best to avoid disturbing them at all
A fly, musca domestica,is the
most common of all insects; flies
belong to the order Diptera, meaning "two-winged." Most other
have four wings and with four dark stripes on the
thorax. Flies have
non-biting mouthparts for sucking up liquefied foods. Their life cycle
stages: egg, larva, pupa
and adult. Eggs are laid in decaying organic
into pale, legless maggots. Developed maggots become
search for dry places to pupate. Pupa is the immobile stage within
a hard, dark brown "shell." Adult flies emerge in
seven to fourteen days.
Female flies live 3 or 4 weeks and lay batches of 75 to 100
oval eggs. Be careful and avoid hotels opened buffet lunches
such food setting is a feeding ground for flies to deposit their eggs.
family Lycosidae, is a common name for over 200 different
spiders that are ground dwellers with long thick legs and got bodies
low to the ground at all times. Wolf spiders typically have
two large forward looking eyes in the middle of their face and a row
of four smaller eyes bellow; generally they locate pray by sight and
use their front legs to grab prey, then bite and crush it with
jaw-like mouth parts called chelicerae. At the Maya Jungle
Hacienda Chichen most wolf spider hunts at daytime.
Female wolf spider lays eggs in a large sac, nearly as large as her
own body. She attaches the egg sac to her body, and carries it until
the eggs hatch; then, the wolf spider tears open the egg sac and the
newly hatched spiders climb onto her back
where they remain for up
to a week. (right photo)
Rump Tarantula, Brachypelma epicureanum,
is a protected resident in Hacienda
Chichen gardens and Maya Jungle Reserve, since
this tarantula and other of the Brachypelma family
due to their demand in pet stores.
Maya people call tarantula males "J'chi' huo" (left)
smaller than female in body size, it has reddish tone
hair color while the female has a brighter orange tone.
A spiders most powerful sense is touch
and knows its
surroundings feeling the vibrations of pray and danger
of hair into the air that cause irritation.
This is a venomous creature, do not touch or hurt it.
Daddy-longlegs arachnid, Harvestman,
gentle creature is related to the spiders but it is not a true
spider, it does not produce venom or silk webs, and it only has a
pair of ocelli (eyes) rather than multiple eyes in a spider. Also,
harvestman don't have fangs like spiders but chelicerae.
You may find them in
Hacienda Chichen hotel gardens and wildlife reserve or even in
your room. They are totally harmless, so please if you see them ner
you, don't kill them.
to be touch: Scorpions are arachnid of the order
Scorpionida. In Yucatan, the most common one is the "alacran,"
Centruroides gracilis. (photo) Scorpion's exoskeleton is
thick and durable, providing good protection from predators. Their
body has: the cephalothorax (where the head is located) and the
metasoma (where the tail and bottom segments of the scorpion are
located). All known Scorpion species possess poison or venom,
those here give a deep painful sting like a mad wasp. Scorpions have
a true "sexual or mating ritual" and females give birth to live
Monster or Great Grasshopper (English)
Saltamontes Gigante (Spanish)tropidacris cristata,
Romaleidae Family, in the order Orthoptera.
This slender long winged insect is a its body can reach four inches
in length. Brightly colored and beautiful to see as an adult, but
when grasshoppers appear in masive swarms they can destroy crops and
land in an incredible manner; thus, we call them locusts swarms.
Monsteer grasshoppers can jump up to 20 times their body length; the
males sing and stridulate. Mating is in the fall. Yucatan has seen
three devastating swarms of locust in the past 15 years. Great
grasshoppers females lay eggs that turn into nymphs and then, after
several molts, into adult grasshoppers. Their changing shape and
colors make it difficult to ID.
is native to this Mayan region but can be found in places as far as
A tiny thin body about one inch long, short neck, and
bobble eyes, this coppery winged mantid has a beautiful metal copper
body that is textured with small diamond shapes. It is found
near dry twits and wood chips and enjoy warm weather. Yucatan
Mantid is protected at
Praying Mantids are masters of camouflage and most subfamilies develop foliage or twit
like body shapes and colors. In the Yucatan different mantis
are found, at Chichen Itza's private Mayan Jungle Reserve and
Hacienda Chichen's gardens, guests encounter a few green giants and
the small but attractive Little Yucatan Mantid. All known mantis or mantids
are carnivorous and will engage in cannibalism regardless of age or
gender; this tendency carries over to a sexual cannibalism; high during mating, 25% of all intersexual mating
ends with female eating the male.
They are amazingly beautiful to observe but truly voracious killers;
their bites have no envenom. Like other insects. mantises have three
stages of life development: egg, nymph and adult.
skimmer dragonfly, Orthemis ferruginea, (adult male photo),
the Maya call them "Turish" and praise them as good luck forest
creatures. Young males have a deep pink or red/rose colored
abdomen and can be seen mainly after the rainy season starts in May.
Roseate skimmer dragonflies' wings are almost clear with the edge
closer to the body a bit orange/tan colored. At our Maya Jungle
Reserve, the nymphs grow in "sartinejas o chuntules," carved natural
holes in stones that capture the rain water creating little pond
like water reserves.
ants, Atta Acromyrnex, are among the highest social organized and
technological advanced animals; not only they cultivate their own
food from fresh cuts of vegetation, but use sophisticated
antibiotics against fungal pests to protect their crops. The
advance social caste system of leaf-cutting, enables ant colonies to
safeguard their colonies safety and well-being as well as their nest
where their agricultural system, which is based on ant-fungus
mutualism, is highly attendant by specific ant population within it.
These ant colonies abound in Chichen Itza and can be observe at the
Hacienda Chichen gardens.
termites, Nasutitermes, are the most important recyclers of
wood debris in the Maya Jungle Reserve ecosystem. They built their
colonies in many branches of large trees such as the Pitch or
elephant ear fruit tree. Shaped like a mud cluster or mount
the colonies nest is firmly attached to tall tree branches. Only a
few individual termites in the colony reproduce, although the colony
may hold up to 50,000 residents. Like ants, these ants work in an "eusocial"
highly developed caste system. Arboreal termites in Yucatan can be
clearly detected in tree trunks and branches that have been affected
by colonies of termites with long bulky scar like paths showing
clearly over the tree bark.
We hope our readers enjoy this
article written to help travelers an nature lovers enjoy the rich
fauna (animal kingdom) found in in the wild Maya Jungle Reserve
privately safeguarded and protected at Hacienda Chichen Resort,
Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico. Yucatan's birds, reptiles,
mammals, insects, butterflies, bees, and other creatures are a joy
to watch and observe in the wild. Yucatan's wildlife has a
truly vast list of endemic fauna (indigenous animals) to protect and
FAMSI has a collection of popular
Maya animal stories you may find interesting and amusing. They will
help you understand the rich connection between Maya people and the
land they call "monte" (jungle). We hope you have enjoy this
article, please feel free to
contact us for further information
about Yucatan's wildlife.
DID YOU KNOW:
Challenge for Sustaining
the Future of
featured our NGO Maya
Foundation In Laakeech
(pronounced: in lak'ech) innovating Geo-Sustainable
volunteer projects in union with the
as part of this
Geo-Challenge Program sponsored by
Geographic and Ashoka's
Yucatan Adventure is a volunteer Eco-Travel
Guide by the Maya Foundation In Laakeech A.C. a sustainable civil
society association in Yucatan, Mexico, dedicated to Sustainable
Geo-Tourism, helping travelers learn about Yucatan's
Culture, local Mayan people, and their traditions; as well as to inform travelers about the many wonderful
and great free
volunteering opportunities near Chichen
This article is
dedicated to all
are found in the
at Chichen Itza,
is rich and it
Maya people and
to preserve the
and fauna that
and other small
in the wild.
was supported by Hacienda Chichen Resort, a truly committed green
and a great place to plan vacations filled with fun eco-cultural
activities, fabulous Spa
Mayan rituals, great gourmet Maya and Fusion cuisine delights and
Yaxkin Spa -
Indulge in a Mayan Spa holistic treat
in Chichen Itza, Yucatan.
Yucatan Adventure Eco-Travel Guide is a volunteer project of our NGO Citizen Sustainable Association the Maya Foundation In Laakeech A.C.
dedicated to the
welfare of the Maya rural communities in Yucatan, Mexico www.yucatanadventure.com
Published April 2009
Updated August 2009, May 2010, January 2011, Aug.2013, FEB. 2016
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