Steer clear of the island’s anti-social inhabitants
While vacationing on Isla Mujeres, you’ll want to be aware of certain animals that require a “hands off” approach. Snorkel instructors will warn you about obvious dangers like touching the coral, but there are many lesser-known creatures of the Caribbean who prefer not to be handled and have developed interesting ways of protecting themselves.
Some of the more common are discussed below.
These aquatic animals are normally docile creatures, but will attack when provoked. They are equipped with one or two spines, which are barbed and can cause a severe gash upon contact. These spines are capable of penetrating virtually any kind of shoe or wetsuit, and can potentially be fatal if they pierce a swimmer’s chest.
Commonly known as “fire corals,” these sea organisms are recognizable by their “antlers” and are a yellowish brown color. Touching one of these can evoke a nasty sting.
Sea Anemones & Sea Cucumbers
Most sea anemones are harmless, but this particular breed contains strong, toxic substances that can cause severe skin irritation. One particular stinging sea anemone is bluish gray or light brown, and resembles a fir tree. These creatures are typically found under coral and boulders. Similar to sea anemones, sea cucumbers are usually safe to touch, but they do contain white Cuvierian tubules, some of which may eject when they are irritated. These tubules contain toxins that can cause blindness if they come into contact with your eyes, so you should wash your hands after touching these animals.
Boxes of Death
More commonly known as jellyfish, these insidious animals can be a fatal menace with their very strong poison and numerous tentacles. The tentacles can number up to 60 per adult jellyfish, and are armed with up to 5 million stinging cells that are activated when stimulated by certain chemicals found on other fish and human skin. Jellyfish do not usually attack, preferring to stay away from humans. Most contact is accidental.
There aren’t many dangerous animals on Isla Mujeres, but wild animals will do what is necessary to protect themselves if provoked or cornered. The best strategy for avoiding this problem is to leave the wildlife alone. If you find something in your room or along your path, move out of the way and allow the animal to pass. If all else fails, call for help.
A native to the Caribbean, these beautiful lizards are prevalent on nearly all of the islands. Most move slowly, but they can speed up their motions if necessary. Though iguanas are not typically known as aggressive animals, they may bite if you try to handle them or if they feel cornered.
Similar to badgers, these furry animals come out at night to forage. They feast on a variety of organisms including plant, lizard, and even garbage. Badgers can be especially aggressive, so if you see one of these animals, it’s a good idea to move away quickly. Their bites are painful and, like most animals, their mouths are a breeding ground for bacteria, which can lead to nasty infection.
These dog-like animals are found in the Caribbean jungle. They typically come out at night (like badgers) and will bite if they feel threatened.
Native wildlife can enhance your exotic vacation, but only in protected environments. If you’re having a potentially dangerous problem with pests in the vicinity of your hotel room, contact management for assistance.