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West Indies Flora/Fauna

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West Indies Fauna

For the avifauna of the islands: check out the West Indies birding page.

Tree frogs sing out their nighttime melodies on most of the islands, but we have yet to capture one and photograph it.

The Antillean Iguana, from Les Saintes
The Antillean Iguana, from Les Saintes

It wasn't long after sugarcane was introduced to the Windward Islands that some bright European decided that India's Mongoose would be a handy critter for killing the deadly Fer-de-Lance snake that lurked in the cane fields.  Unfortunately, this efficient predator didn't limit itself to snakes and snake eggs, but has decreased the bird populations as well.  Sleek, furry mongooses are often seen darting across roads, their long tails slithering behind them.  (No, we haven't seen a fer-de-lance yet, and hope never to do so!)

The Antillean Iguana (above) sports a face only a mother could love, and seems to be perpetually saying "It's Monday morning!"  Growing to over 3 feet (1m) long, they seem unafraid of people, but luckily not aggressive, either.  We've seen the highest concentration of them on the ruins of Fort Napoleon in Les Saintes.

High in the rainforest of Martinique we came upon these two lizards on the side of a vine-covered mahogany tree.  They seemed to be locked in battle, with the lower one distinctly at the disadvantage, its head firmly in the grips of the others' jaw.  Or is this perhaps a bizarre mating ritual??

2 Lizards battling it out
Blue Spotted Lizard

These foot-long lizards, with iridescent blue spots on their sides scurried off into the leaves as we climbed the old fort grounds in Dominica.

Elsewhere, small blue-headed lizards are commonly seen basking in the sun on the low, drier parts of most islands.

Large, furry fruit bats inhabit the eaves of many old buildings and ruins. We've seen them by the dozens in St. Lucia.  One house in the town of Soufriere apparently explodes with bats each evening at sunset, a spectacle we've not yet seen but would love to!

Fruit bats hanging from the ceiling of an old fort, Dominica
Sand Crab We see lots of evidence of sand crabs, but it was fun to finally meet a few, toe to face, as it were, in the St. Vincent Grenadines.

These have a less happy story. Found near the slaughtered remains of a large hawksbill sea turtle, these eggs will never hatch. Although the turtles are protected by law, they continue to be killed for their meat.

Sea turtle eggs, ripped from the female before being laid.

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