The Amazing Animals Of Playa Del Carmen & Where To Find Them!

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Last updated on November 23, 2022 by Wandering our World

If you’re an animal lover, Playa del Carmen should be one of your top destinations to visit in Mexico. There’s loads of wildlife in Playa del Carmen, from marine animals to unique rodents, birds, reptiles, monkeys and more!

This coastal resort town is rich with jungles, white beaches, turquoise waters, coral reefs, and Mayan ruins surrounded by nature. So there’s plenty of different habitats to discover wildlife!

In fact don’t be surprised if you encounter wildlife walking along the streets of Playa del Carmen or at your resort, such as a sun-loving iguana. And as you dive under the sea in this coastal resort town, you’ll be left speechless due to the colorful array of fish.

So read on to discover the sort of animals in Playa Del Carmen you could be lucky enough to meet on holiday!


  1. Dangerous Animals In Playa Del Carmen
  2. Common & Beautiful Animals In Playa Del Carmen
  3. Marine Animals In Playa Del Carmen
  4. Rare Animals In Playa Del Carmen
  5. Birds In Playa Del Carmen
Young couple walking through rainforest

Six Dangerous Animals In Playa Del Carmen To Look Out For!

1. Crocodiles

The ancient Mayans actually revered the crocodile as a symbol of fertility and life. This animal is a stealth hunter, and Playa del Carmen is blessed with two species – the American crocodile and the Mexican crocodile.

It’s best to steer clear of remote cenotes, brackish lagoons and saltwater to avoid encountering a crocodile. If you want to see this dangerous animal safety, you can visit the Crococun zoo in the Riviera Maya.

Eyes of the Crocodile IN water

2. Jaguar

Playa del Carmen is home to the unique jaguar. This elusive creature loves to spend its time in the jungle, away from people so is rarely spotted.

Although human attacks are rare, the jaguar is dangerous, and encountering this big cat can be fatal.

You can find jaguars in the Yucatan peninsula and the Riviera Maya in places like the Xcaret and Rio Secreto parks.

Jaguar amongst rainforest

3. Snakes

Playa del Carmen and the Yucatan peninsula is the home of various snakes such as the venomous Cantil, Jumping Pitviper, Coral Snake, Barba Amarilla, and Neotropical Rattlesnake.

These snakes make their home in the jungles of Playa del Carmen.

The majority of snakes in Playa del Carmen are harmless. But an encounter with any of the poisonous snakes can be fatal.

However, it’s important to note that most snakes are not aggressive and will try to avoid humans at all costs.

Coral Snake on the ground

4. Sharks

Playa del Carmen provides an opportunity to enjoy turquoise warm Caribbean waters and stunning coral reefs.

However this marine environment is also home to dangerous sharks, such as bull sharks. You may even spot the bull shark at Playa Xcalacoco in northern Playa del Carmen during November and March.

Although the bull shark is one of the most aggressive sharks, bull shark dives are common in Playa del Carmen. The bull sharks don’t tend to bother divers, and with the right diving team the experience can be safe and fun.

Bull shark jaws detail ready to attack

5. Spiders

There are many species of spider in Playa del Carmen and while most are not aggressive enough to cause harm, three are regarded as dangerous: the Black Widow, the Brown Recluse, and the Hobo spider.

The Brown Recluse is also called the Violin spider or Fiddleback due to the marks on its back. This spider is one of the most dangerous spiders in Mexico and its venom can lead to fever, nausea, joint and muscle pain, and respiratory distress.

Brown Recluse Spider on white background

6. The ‘Gila’ Monster Lizard

The Gila monster lizard is unique in folklore and is the world’s most venomous lizard. When the Spanish first saw it they believed its breath was deadly!

That’s not true, but a bite from this lizard is painful, and it may not loosen its grip for several seconds. The lizard may also chew on your flesh, so the venom sinks deeper into your skin.

A bite from the Gila lizard will not kill you. But you’ll experience excruciating pain as you try to break free from its grip. You’re likely to spot this lizard throughout the Riviera Maya.

Gila monster lizard

14 Common & Beautiful Animals In Playa Del Carmen To Look Out For!

A trip to Playa del Carmen would not be complete without spotting these fantastic animals.

1. Sea Turtles

You’ll come across a fantastic sea turtle sanctuary when you drive out 40 minutes south of Playa del Carmen.

Each year hundreds of green sea turtles and loggerhead turtles make their way to Playa del Carmen. This migration takes place from April to October, and the turtles come to nest along Xcacel Beach.

Best of all, you can volunteer at the sanctuary to have an amazing experience helping out those sea turtles!

Sea turtle swimming

2. Bats

There are many caves around Playa del Carmen inhabited by bats. These ‘Masters of the Night,’ are excellent pollinators and seed dispersers.

You’re likely to see bats when you visit the cenotes, so keep your eyes peeled!

3. White-Nosed Coati

The White-nosed coati or coatimundi belongs to the coati species and racoon family. This furry little mammal is easily identified by its long pointed snout and reddish look to its fur. You can spot this animal throughout the Riviera Maya.

Unfortunately the deterioration of the jungle has triggered the coati to venture into cities in search of food. As such, you can even spot this creature along the streets of Playa del Carmen.

Nasua raccoon coati

4. Yucatan Squirrel

The Yucatan squirrel, formerly known as the Campeche squirrel, is a friendly squirrel you can spot at any park. You may even spot it at your resort or while walking in the city!

This squirrel derives its name from its habitat, as it is found in the Yucatan peninsula and adjacent areas.

The Yucatan squirrel is a unique subspecies identified by its black tail, legs, and parts of its ears.

5. Iguana

There are many iguanas in Playa del Carmen and if you look closely around your resort you’re likely to spot one!

Playa del Carmen is home to the Black/Spiny Iguana, which is a broad-tailed lizard with a spiny tail that one might even mistake for a snake.

You’ll find iguanas sunbathing or roaming around throughout the Riviera Maya. This reptile especially enjoys moving around at Mayan ruins so keep an eye out during any day trip!

black spiny-tailed iguana on the ground Floerchinger

6. Lizards

Playa del Carmen is home to many fantastic lizards, such as the native anole iguanian lizard, the yellow-spotted Cozumel and Lundell spiny lizard, the Yucatan banded gecko, and the Asia house gecko.

Each of these lizards has an intricate skin pattern and habit. For instance, the anole lizards are known for their color-changing habits and are also known for the brightly-coloured dewlap found on the males’ neck.

You can spot most of these lizards in the jungles and Mayan ruins around Playa del Carmen.

7. Agouti

The agouti is a common rodent that you’re likely to stumble upon in Playa del Carmen. This animal looks like a large rat with a tiny tail, but it sits on its hind legs like a squirrel when feeding and has slender legs.

The agouti’s hind feet have only three toes which they use to walk or trot. This rodent tends to be 16 to 25 inches with a weight range of two to nine pounds.

The agouti can leap up to 2 meters (6.5 feet) vertically from a standing position, and you can see them in action during the day as that’s when this creature is most active. The agouti is harmless, but it’s best to watch this rodent from a distance so not to disturb them.

agouti in rainforest

8. Frogs

The tropical climate of Playa del Carmen makes it a great breeding ground for frogs.

And if you’re a fan of this slimy creature, you can find species of tree frogs, the smilisca phaetoa frog (masked tree frog), the rain frog, and other subspecies here.

The red-eyed tree frog is one of the most amazing amphibians you can find at Playa del Carmen. This cute frog has three eyelids, a conspicuous red eye and cup-like footpads adept for climbing.

You’re likely to spot these frogs in the jungles of Playa del Carmen, by the lakes, rivers, and around cenotes.

9. The Spider Monkey

Found throughout the Riviera Maya, the spider monkey is one of the most magical creatures you’ll ever see. This intelligent animal is also known as the ‘Guiana,’ or ‘red-faced spider monkey and you can often find them hanging on trees at resorts!

A visit to the Punta Laguna reserve will also bring you face to face with a sub-species of the Spider monkey known as the Yucatan Spider monkey.

Spider Monkey Eating

10. Yucatan Salamander

The Yucatan salamander is endemic to the Yucatan peninsula. This elusive creature has distinctive skin that appears burnt-like, but you can spot it in the lowland tropical jungles, under surface debris, sinkholes, or traversing the forest floor.

11. Howler Monkey

Playa del Carmen is home to another intelligent monkey known as the howler monkey.

Howler monkeys, or Saguaro, are the largest of the new world monkeys. They can grow up to a length of 70cm, excluding the tail.

You can find howler monkey around resorts and jungles near Playa del Carmen, as well as at Mayan ruins. They’re the loudest monkey in the world and can be heard over a mile away!

Black howler monkey howling in forest

12. Butterflies

Butterflies are one of those insects that always captures the imagination and lifts the spirit. In fact the ancient Mayans believed that butterflies were the spirits of the ancestors visiting the living to comfort them.

Butterfly lovers are in for a treat in Playa del Carmen as you can drop by the butterfly exhibit at Xcaret Park or see many in the jungles of Playa del Carmen.

13. Capybara

The Capybara is a giant rodent that’s native to South America. This mammal is short-haired with brownish fur and can grow to 1.3 meters and weigh up to 70kg.

Capybaras have large, blunt snouts, small ears and short legs with almost no tail.

Your best bet to spot the shy capybara is at animal sanctuaries and zoos around Playa del Carmen.

14. Tapir

Native to Mexico, the Tapir is one of the Yucatan’s most elusive yet largest mammals. It can weigh 150-400 kg (330-880 lbs), and that large body means few predators can attack it.

This mammal is unfortunately on Mexico’s list of endangered species. As a result it’s very difficult to see the Tapir in the wild, but one of the best places to spot one is Xcaret Park.

baby of the endangered South American tapir

Five Marine Animals In Playa Del Carmen To Look Out For!

Playa del Carmen boasts rich marine life, from whale sharks to sea turtles, crabs, and other tiny creatures.

Some of the marine life you’re likely to see while diving around the waters of Playa del Carmen include:

1. The Manatee

The manatee is a large, herbivorous mammal that can grow up to 5 meters in length. This creature is friendly to humans, meaning you often go swim beside it.

Sadly, the manatee is an endangered species, but you can find manatees at Xel-Ha or Dolphin Discovery Cozumel. You can also find them at Manatee Cove at Xcaret Eco-Park.

manatee floating in the water

2. Dolphins

Playa del Carmen has various places where you can swim with dolphins.

These areas include the Delphinus Riviera Maya, Delphinus Xcaret, Blu Riviera Maya, and other dolphin diving spots.

3. Humpback Whale

It’s possible to see whales in Playa del Carmen throughout the year. And one of the whales you’re likely to spot is the humpback whale and its calves!

Aerial view of a beautiful whale in a calm sea

4. Blue Whale

Playa del Carmen is a very diverse spot where you can spot different types of whales, including the largest whale in the world, the blue whale, from January to April.

The blue whale can weigh as much as 200 tonnes, and its heart is about the size of a Volkswagen Beetle! This whale eats about three tonnes of krill daily.

5. Whale Shark

The whale shark is the largest fish on the planet and can grow to 20 meters in length! You can see this creature for most of the year, but the best time is June-September.

Incredibly, you can even go scuba diving with whale sharks in Playa del Carmen!

whale shark swimming

Four Rare Animals In Playa Del Carmen To Try & Spot!

1. The Macaw

Macaws are intelligent birds native to the tropics of North and South America. The Macaw is a companion parrot with beautiful plumage and a long tail, and the most famous type is the scarlet Macaw with its brilliant red, yellow and blue feathers.

You can find the Macaw at the Xcaret Park, Xaman-Ha aviary, and the Playa del Carmen archaeological site.

Three wild scarlet macaws on a branch Fayers

2. Ocellated Turkey

The ocellated turkey looks more like a glammed-up version of the North American wild turkey! The other difference, however, is that the ocellated turkey is smaller than its North American cousin.

This bird has a bright blue head and neck which is dotted with bright orange or red wart-like growths. Its body is a mixture of blue, green, bronze, and blue-gray feathers. The turkey’s blue-gray tail feathers have rusted-looking circular blue markings and it’s those markings that give the turkey its name.

You can find the oscillated turkey at the edge of forests, in Mayan ruins or in open fields.

Ocellated Turkey

3. Margay

The margay is one of the most unusual cats in the Yucatan peninsula. This cat is sleek and long with flexible hind legs and huge amber eyes. The margay also has a unique coat of spots and rosettes, so unfortunately it’s a highly targeted creature in the illegal fur and exotic pet trade.

You can find the margay in trees hunting for lizards. This cat likes grasping onto branches with its paws or moving up and down like a sloth.

The margay is rare, so you’ll have to delve deeper into the jungles of Playa del Carmen to spot one.

Margay sitting on tree Prosicky

4. The Collared Peccary

The collared peccary is a pig-like hoofed mammal that belongs to the Tayassuidae family. This species can only be found in the Americas and it resembles a wild pig. It can reach about two feet in height and weigh 35 to 60 pounds.

The collared peccary is known as being a great seed disperser as it’s constantly looking out for fruits to eat.

Birds In Playa Del Carmen To Spot!

Playa del Carmen is home to pelicans, seagulls, the roseate spoonbill and the turquoise-browed motmot, among many others.

Common ones include the Grey-tailed Grackle or Mexican Grackle, the Osprey, herons, and egrets. While rarer birds in Playa del Carmen include species like the Rock pigeon, Double-crested cormorants, Ruddy Ground Doves, and brown pelicans.


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    Hi and welcome to Wandering our World! This article was written by one of the Wandering our World team - a team of travel enthusiasts who live around the globe.