10 Wild Things to Watch Out For

As a sub-tropical and tropical country, Belize is rich in life forms, including some that are not very nice to human beings. Fortunately, most visitors to Belize aren't bothered by these denizens of the wild, save for the occasional mozzie or no-see-um bites.


# 1 No-see-ums (sandflies, sandfleas, midge gnats, purrujas)

These buggers are twice as mean as mozzies -- watch out for them near mangrove swamps and on a windless day on the coast or cayes; Avon Skin-So-Soft may help some.

# 2 Mozzies

Some mosquitos in Belize do carry dangerous diseases including malaria and dengue fever. Many visitors to Belize are surprised, though, that mosquitoes are not as bad as they feared. The nearly constant winds on the cayes keeps mozzies at bay, and much of Cayo District escapes the plague of these bugs. They are worse in the late summer after periods of rain, and in southern Belize (which gets more rain than any other part of the country.)

# 3 Botfly

This little horror, happily not a problem for most visitors, gets the help of a mosquito to place its egg under your skin which can grow to the size of your thumb-- yecch! Lure the "doctor fly" out with a slab of fatback or bacon placed over the entrance; kill it by smothering it to death with vaseline or glue; or apply the sap of the bot killer tree, or some say, a piece of tobacco.

# 4 Yellow-jawed tommygoff (fer-de-lance)

This highly poisonous snake attacks aggressively. It has heat-seeking fangs and can strike accurately even in the dark. Avoid it, and if by rare chance you are bitten get medical attention immediately. Belize has about 20 types of poisonous snakes of which "only" nine are deadly.

# 5 "Alligators"

Called thus by many Belizeans, but Belize actually has only crocodiles, the larger American and the smaller Morelet's. Occasional attacks on humans are recorded in Belize.

# 6 Scorpions

These are common all over Belize. They are often present in the walls of buildings (avoid leaving wet towels out) or in thatch roofs. Their sting hurts, usually not much worse than the sting of a wasp, and isn't fatal.

# 7 Warries (White-Lipped Peccary)

Peccaries are related to pigs. White-Lipped Peccaries, now rare in Belize, travel in large herds. If you hear loud bellowing, screeching and tooth-clacking (and don't happen to be in Big Daddy's late at night), climb the nearest tree, as warries can be hazardous to your health.

# 8 Killer bees

The stings of Africanized bees hurt no more than those of ordinary honeybees, but killer bees are far more aggressive and ill-tempered. They have killed many cattle and other livestock in Belize, and in Costa Rica at least 16 human deaths have been attributed to killer bee attacks. Virtually all the honeybees you see in Belize are now Africanized and are present in most areas, even Ambergris Caye. If you stumble on a hive, try to get under a roof (bees usually won't follow you under a shelter) or into water.

# 9 Tarantulas

You may see one of these furry balls of fun on the rainforest floor or even on a village sidewalk. Their bite can be painful but isn't serious. Some people keep these as pets.

# 10 Jaws and other sea critters

Belize has all the usual denizens of the deep -- sharks, stingrays, barracuda, moray eels, fire coral, etc. Most of these are as harmless as sheepdogs, as least according to the guys at the dive shop.


Honorable Mention: Vampire bats

Belize does have vampire bats, whose bite may cause rabies, but unless you sleep outside a lot without clothes on, don't worry. Belize's many species of bats do worlds of good, from eating mozzies to pollinating fruit.


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