THE NATURAL WONDERS OF THE ISLES OF SALVATION
TUFTED CAPUCHIN ( Sapajus apella) – Scientists are studying the ways these small, brown-furred monkeys create tools to gather their favorite foods: fruits, flowers, insects and sometimes frogs. Their light faces and bellies, contrasted with their dark heads, reminded Spanish explorers of the hoods of Capuchin monks.
COMMON SQUIRREL MONKEY ( Saimiri sciureus) – These small, grey-furred monkeys have yellowish limbs and expressive faces; they were once popularly sold as pets. They’re very social and inquisitive, and usually quiet, except when they feel threatened or are ready to start a fight.
SCARLET IBIS ( Eudocimus ruber) – This brilliant red wading bird is closely related to American white ibis; they’re identical except color. Their bodies are entirely orange-red, except the vivid black ends of their curved bills and their wingtips.
RED-RUMPED AGOUTI ( Dasyprocta leporina) – These giant, forest-dwelling rodents reach a weight of 14 pounds and a length of 25 inches. Their brown fur is marked with black spots on the upper body, but fades to a lighter orange from the midsection to the rear. In the wild, they’re shy and live on fruit, roots, nuts and the occasional egg.
BLACK MASTIFF BAT ( Molossus rufus) – These black-bodied bats with foot-long wingspans can live in colonies of up to 500 members, roosting in buildings and tropical forests. They’re fast and maneuverable fliers, feeding on insects they usually catch in mid-flight.
GREEN IGUANA ( Iguana iguana) – These tree-dwelling reptiles, which can grow to more than 6 feet long, seem like prehistoric monsters. In fact, they’re calm herbivores who enjoy swimming and basking in the sun. In some countries they’ve become rare because, as “tree chickens,” they’re hunted for meat.
WEST INDIAN MANATEE ( Trichechus manatus) – The gentle sea cow is quite large (averaging 10 feet long) but surprisingly skilled as a swimmer, sometimes doing barrel rolls in the shallow rivers and coastal seas it calls home. Its slow, surface-swimming habit makes it vulnerable to powerboat accidents and hunters.
MACHETE SAVANE ( Chironius carinatus) – You might be intimidated to see a 10-foot-long large-eyed snake with a golden-brown body and distinctive yellow belly lurking in the low branches of the forest, but don’t be. The machete savane is non-venomous and shy. It’s also known as a vine snake, and feeds almost entirely on frogs.
West Indian manatee