Mexico is a country rife with wildlife. From the desert climates near the U.S. border to the Caribbean coast and jungles of the Yucatán peninsula, the country has a diverse network of ecosystems and a wide variety of animals to go along with them. Mexico also is home to tens of thousands of cattle.
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The southern edge of the Yucatán, which sits on the Mexican Caribbean, is the home of sea turtles. The Bay of Akumal, which means "the place of the turtle" in Mayan, is the centre of this activity. Through the spring and summer months, sea turtles flock to the spot to lay their eggs. Through snorkelling tours, both mothers and young turtles can be seen swimming in the bay. Though the animals are protected by law, the rapid development of the Riviera Maya and tourist trade spreading south from Cancun has encroached upon the domain of the turtle.
Mexican Prairie Dog
Sociable Prairie Dogs image by Lucid_Exposure from Fotolia.com
Mexican prairie dogs, know scientifically as Cynomys mexicanus and colloquially called black-tail prairie dogs, live in the northeastern regions of Mexico's grasslands. It is the only species of prairie dog officially listed as endangered. Cynomys mexicanus lives in massive colonies, and though it is endangered and government-protected, the number of black-tails steadily declines. Natural predators for the Mexican prairie dog are hawks, badgers, bobcats and coyotes. The colonies have a system of watch in which animals warn the colony of approaching predators and take appropriate precautions.
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Jaguars, scientifically Panthera onca, are the largest cats in the Americas. The oldest known jaguar remains date to approximately 2 million years ago. The Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, in Mexico's Campeche state, is the home to the largest population of jaguars outside of the Amazon. It was estimated in 1990, the most recent data, that 125 to 180 jaguars reside in Calakmul and a possible 350 more list in the southern state of Chiapas. According to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the jaguar is "near threatened."
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The Mexican Redtailed cribo--Latin name Drymarchon corais rubidius--is a species of Indigo snake known in Mexico as the Tilcuate. The Indigo is the largest nonvenomous snake in North America. Because the snake is nonvenomous, it kills prey by thrashing it into submission, even going so far as to bludgeon future meals against nearby objects such as trees.
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Often referred to as a walking fish, the Mexican axolotl is actually an amphibian. The axolotl name comes from the Aztec language Nahuatl: "atl" means water, while "xolotl" means dog. Native to lakes Xochimilco and Chalco, the axolotl is now endangered. Both of these lakes have been all but obliterated by the building of Mexico City atop them. Only the canals of Xochimilco remain. Though the Axolotl is rarely found in the wild, hundreds are bred in captivity each year for research purposes.