Most of the islands that make up the Bahamas are relatively small with limited plantlife. Therefore, most islands are unable to support large animals. Some of the bigger uninhabited islands may have wild pigs, goats, donkeys, raccoons and the hutia, an endangered rodent-like creature. However, you will find an abundance of wildlife under the surrounding ocean.

Here are some of the most common creatures you might discover, including a few to avoid!

There are a number of common creatures you may well encounter during your stay on Great Exuma. Common amphibian species include the Cuban tree frog, which incidentally is the largest tree frog in North America, measuring up to 5.5 inches (140mm).

Although they are cute to watch and photograph, Cuban tree frogs should never be touched, as they secrete toxic mucus on their skin, which can burn if it gets into the eyes. These amphibians can change their color to blend in with their environment. Their rough warty skin can be any shade of bronze, grey, olive brown or white.

Other amphibious wildlife includes a variety of snakes, although none are poisonous. Species include the Bahamian boa constrictor, pygmy boa and the blind worm snake.

Visitors to the Bahamas are far more likely to encounter lizards, which are harmless and come in a variety of sizes and species. Some of the more colorful ones are iguanas.

Exotic birdlife in the Bahamas includes the Bahama yellowthroat with its black cheeks and yellow underside. The Bahama swallow is a cute dark green and white bird with a tell-tail forked tail. One of the birds you are less likely to see is the Bahama oriole. It is one of the rarest birds in the Bahamas and can only be found on the island of Andros. It has a blackbody and yellow underside with yellow under its wings when it flies.

The name “Bahamas” means “shallow seas”, and the warm clear waters throughout the country support a wonderful array of wildlife, which is what makes snorkeling so exciting and rewarding. There are around 900 square miles of reef around the Bahamas, which make a natural home for eels, angelfish, clownfish, Nassau grouper, nurse sharks, barracudas and porcupine fish.

Other marine life, which is easy to spot when snorkeling, includes natural sponges, lobsters, turtles, conch, hogfish, bonefish, snapper and many other colorful varieties of fish.

The sea around the islands supports three species of stingrays, which have poisonous glands in their tail barbs. The most common way to be injured by one of these docile creatures is if you accidentally step on one that is buried beneath the sand. Wearing sand shoes or flippers when snorkeling is a good idea.

The other marine creature to keep clear of is the Portuguese man-of-war, a translucent blue jelly fish. It floats on the surface of the water and has fine trailing tentacles, which can reach up to 80 feet in length. One brush with these nasty tentacles causes livid sores, intense pain and can even be lethal.

Larger species of marine life may also be spotted around the islands, including whales and dolphins. Humpback, pilot and blue whales are generally seen between December and April during their migration to and from their feeding grounds further north. Several attractions throughout the country offer the chance to swim with dolphins – the ultimate snorkeling or swimming experience!

Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Grand Isle Resort & Spa and a clickable link back to this page.