The Cayman Islands is home to unique and diverse critters – some found nowhere else in the world.

Here’s a quick glance at what wildlife resides on the islands, and how to get a closer look:


These rare local lizards with blue-hue pigmentation are an endangered species that are found nowhere else in the world but in Grand Cayman. Get acquainted with these prehistoric-looking creatures at the captive breeding facility in Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, where guided and self-guided tours are available. They also roam freely in the park, often found sunning themselves near the entrance of the Woodland Trail.


There are two subspecies of Cayman Parrot – Caymanensis of Grand Cayman, and Hesterna of Cayman Brac, which is slightly smaller. The Grand Cayman parrot is iridescent green with a white eye-ring, red cheeks, black ear patches and brilliant blue wing feathers. It is the national bird of the Cayman Islands. The Cayman Parrot Sanctuary in East End is a great interactive family outing, where you can observe these colourful birds up close. The
facility rehabilitates parrots for release into the wild and is also home to an array of native animals and reptiles.


Sometimes referred to as the Cayman rabbit, agoutis are shy creatures that are rarely spotted. A member of the rodent family, they live in the forests of Grand Cayman. They can occasionally be seen in Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park, but the best place to get up close and personal with an agouti is at the Cayman Parrot Sanctuary in East End, where you can interact with its star attraction, Lil Bit, a friendly rescue agouti.


Turtles are an enduring symbol of the islands, as they were a valuable resource for Caymanians in days gone by. The best place to observe them is at the Cayman Turtle Centre in West Bay. Visitors can interact with the turtles in open-air tanks, swim with them in a lagoon and assist the animal care team in feeding them.

There are three species: green, loggerhead and hawksbill. Good spots to encounter sea turtles in the wild are Spotts Beach, just off Shamrock Road in the Spotts-Newlands area of Grand Cayman, and Turtle Reef dive site in West Bay.


Cayman’s waters are home to Southern stingrays. These gentle fish can be found gathering in the middle of North Sound at two main sites: Stingray City and the nearby Sandbar. Stingray City is a shallow dive and snorkel site, suitable for all experience levels. The Sandbar is about three to four feet deep, allowing visitors to stand and observe the rays as they swirl around. Stingrays have been coming to this area for decades as, in the past, fishermen would clean their catch and throw the scraps in the water – attracting the rays for a free lunch.


Just as Grand Cayman is the only place in the world where you’ll find the blue iguana, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac are the only places you’ll find the Sister Islands rock iguana. With red eyes and spines running from the back of their head to the tip of their tail, they look like creatures from a prehistoric world. They are a protected species, and a good place to encounter them is at Mahogany Bay in Little Cayman.


Little Cayman is home to around 4,000 red-footed boobies, one of the largest breeding colonies in the region. You can view them at the National Trust’s Booby Pond Nature Reserve, a brackish mangrove pond that is also home to Cayman’s only breeding colony of magnificent frigatebird. These birds are among more than 200 species of birds found in the Cayman Islands.


The bluff in Cayman Brac is a favourite haunt of the brown booby, a large seabird that nests in its caves and ledges. It’s easy to observe these birds up close as they are curious creatures. If visiting at the right time, you may spot their adorable pure-white fuzzy chicks peeking up from the edge of the bluff. The optimal time to catch a glimpse of them is in early spring.


These brazen black birds are easy to spot in Cayman as they are inquisitive and sociable around people, especially when food is around. Officially called the Greater Antillean grackle, this feisty bird takes its local name from the noise it makes – a metallic, chiming call. There are two endemic subspecies found nowhere else in the world – one in Grand Cayman and the other in Little Cayman. Ching chings can be aggressive in defending their nests during breeding season from March to July and are known to dive-bomb unsuspecting passers-by that come too close.


The West Indian Whistling Duck is the largest of the eight species of Whistling Duck to be found in the world, and is named for its characteristic whistling call. It is classed as a vulnerable species and its range is confined to the Cayman Islands, the Greater Antilles, and the Bahamas. It is most abundant on Grand Cayman and Little Cayman, and less so on Cayman Brac, preferring mangrove and buttonwood swamps and freshwater ponds. At dusk they can be seen flying to their feeding grounds.


A good place to encounter Cayman’s wildlife is the Mastic Trail and Reserve in North Side, as the hiking trail passes through a variety of habitats. There’s a good chance of spotting Cayman’s native parrot, West Indian woodpecker and Caribbean dove, and hikers may encounter frogs, hermit crabs, butterflies, lizards and snakes (none are venomous in Cayman). Take a self-guided hike, or a guided tour through the National Trust for the Cayman Islands.