Cozumel Island is a beautiful tropical island and municipality in the Caribbean Sea. The island is part of Mexico and is off the coast of Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula. The Cozumel Channel separates the island from the mainland. Tourism is the main economic activity on the island. The scenic beauty of the island and the opportunity of participating in a variety of outdoor activities attract vacationers to Cozumel. Large parts of the island are covered with mangrove forests. Karst topography including cenotes also forms part of the island’s landscape. Diverse coral reefs surround it. These different habitats of Cozumel Island are host to a diversity of animal and plant life including many species that are found nowhere in the world. The unique wildlife of Cozumel has been mentioned below.
9. Cozumel Island Coati
The Nasua narica nelsoni is a subspecies of coati that is found only in the Cozumel. It belongs to the Procyonidae family. It is also treated as a species by some publications but most consider it to be a subspecies of the white-nosed coati. The coati living in Cozumel is slightly smaller than that living in adjacent mainland. Although IUCN does not rate the species, it is believed to be in danger of extinction.
8. Cozumel Thrasher
The Toxostoma guttatum belongs to the mockingbird family and is found only in Cozumel. It is an extremely rare bird and has been designated as Critically Endangered. It is not sure if the bird still exists as no sightings have been recorded in recent times. The impact of major hurricanes in the past and invasive species have greatly reduced the population of the species. The Cozumel thrasher’s preferred habitats include deciduous and semi-deciduous forests.
7. Cozumel Fox
The Cozumel fox is a species of fox that is yet to be scientifically described due to lack of data. The fox has been living on Cozumel Island isolated from other closely related species for at least 5000 years and hence believed to be a separate species. However, the fox was last sighted in 2001 and hence, is considered to be critically endangered or extinct.
6. Cozumel Vireo
A near-threatened species, the Vireo bairdi belongs to the Vireonidae family. It is found in the tropical and subtropical dry forests and also in heavily degraded former forests. Although much of its primary forest habitat has been destroyed, the bird’s ability to adapt to living in degraded forests have helped save its population from a dramatic decline.
5. Cozumel Emerald
The Chlorostilbon forficatus or Cozumel Emerald is a hummingbird species belonging to the Trochilidae family. It inhabits dry forests, moist lowland forests, and moist shrubland (both tropical and subtropical in all three cases). Although the species is still labeled as Least Concern by the IUCN, habitat loss of the bird is a major concern.
4. Cozumel Wren
The Troglodytes (aedon) beani is subspecies of house wren found only in the Cozumel Island. It continues to have stable populations on the island and hence is considered to be a Least Concern species. It is a small songbird that has a occurs in a wide variety of habitats including suburban areas.
3. Cozumel Island Raccoon
The Procyon pygmaeus is an endemic species living in Cozumel Island. It is a critically endangered species. These animals are smaller in size than the common raccoon and has a broad black band at the throat and a golden yellow tail. There are only about 250 to 300 individuals of this species left on the island. Although mangroves and sandy wetlands are their main habitats on Cozumel, they can also live in other types of habitats.
2. Splendid Toadfish
The Sanopus splendidus is a marine endemic species found on the Cozumel Island. It is a toadfish species that is found below the coral outcroppings. This fish is noted for its bright colors that distinguishes it from other dull-colored members of the toadfish family. The restricted habitat of the splendid toadfish places it at great risk of extinction. Hence, it is labelled as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
1. Cozumel Harvest Mouse
The Reithrodontomys spectabilis is a rodent species belonging to the Cricetidae family. It is a nocturnal and semiarboreal animal that prefers to inhabit the dense secondary forests and forest edges of the Cozumel Island. Like most other endemic species of the island, the Cozumel harvest mouse is also highly threatened. It is at risk of predation from feral dogs and cats. Nonnative rats introduced to the island by humans also compete with this species for food. Natural calamities also threaten the survival of the species.