Meet some of Tobago's wildlife
Posted Mar 03, 2021
Tobago's sweeping lush landscape is not something to marvel at but is also home to several species of wildlife. Over the years there have been several conservation efforts to ensure that Tobago remains unspoilt, especially for its wildlife.
Corbin's Local Wildlife is one such example. A hidden gem, a tour here is fun for the whole family and animals lovers alike. The protected enclosure-- home of many rescued and endangered creatures-- offers an immersive educational experience, allows visitors to get up close with the animals while learning more about Tobago's rich biodiversity, the value of ecosystems and local species.
Established in 2015, their core mission is to assist with replenishing island's wildlife population namely through its breed-and-release program where they engage in the captive breeding of species that are either endangered or have completely disappeared in Tobago, followed by release under carefully controlled conditions in select locations across the island.
Although the enclosure houses several species of wildlife, Corbin's does not take animals from the wild; all of their inhabitants have been donated to the project - some were found damaged and many were inappropriately housed.
Here are some of the residents you can find at Corbin Local Wildlife:
Also known as nine-banded armadillos, tattoos are small mammals with a leathery, armoured shell. Members of the ant-eater family, they can grow to around 30 inches including the tail. They are nocturnal, solitary beings and excellent diggers. When threatened, tattoos often roll up into a tight ball, relying on their armoured shell to protect them. They have poor eyesight but use their keen sense of smell to navigate and hunt for food.
The agouti is a relation of the guinea pig. Agoutis are similar in appearance to guinea pigs but with longer legs – excellent for running from predators and hopping into the air, which they do when startled. They can live for up to 20 years, which is exceptionally long for rodents. They are excellent seed distributors which is vital for maintaining varied plant growth.
Manicou (also known as opossum)
Manicous are small marsupials with long snouts. They're solitary by nature as well as nocturnal. Their lifespan is just two to four years and females often give birth to very large numbers of young. The offspring are born at an early stage and make their way to the marsupial pouch to nurse. Manicous have a strong immune system showing partial or total immunity to snakes such as rattlesnakes, cottonmouths and other pit vipers. When threatened they mimic the appearance of a dead or sick animal, an involuntary response that includes barred teeth, a foul smell, foaming of the mouth and a stiff body that appears lifeless to the touch. They typically regain consciousness within 40 minutes to 4 hours.
Fun fact: although they may look like boars, the quenk does not belong to the pig family. Also known as the collared peccary, their numbers are low due to overhunting. It has a large, angular head, a circular snout, small ears, a barely visible tail, and huge canines (which do not protrude from the lips). The coarse fur has a dark brown color with a light brown or white lining that extends like a collar from the lower jaw to the back. Their teeth are one of the main distinguishing features. They have vertical canines that grow straight up or down rather than the curved canines of boars. These canines lock together to stabilize the jaw and improve the force of the bite.
Caimans are relatively small crocodilians. They have no teeth visible when the mouth is closed which distinguishes them from other crocodile families. They also have a bony ridge above the eyes, giving the appearance of wearing spectacles.
Macajuel (Boa Constrictor)
Did you know that there are no poisonous snakes in Tobago? This includes the macajuel (also known as the boa constrictor). They can reach up to 13ft with the female being larger than the male. Their colouring features a brown or gray base-colour with red or brown patterns. They are nocturnal, capable swimmers and also known to be non-aggressive in nature.
The green iguana is a large lizard that can grow up to 4.9ft from head to tail. They are very good swimmers and agile tree and vine climbers who climb to the tops of trees to enjoy the heat of the sun. Despite the name, they can vary greatly in color. They also have a white photosensory ‘third eye’ (the Parietal eye) on top of their heads which is able to sense movement and changes in light and dark to help detect predators from above. This third eye also detects the length of day and season to trigger mating behavior. The males are larger than the females and have a dewlap which is fanned out when threatened and during mating displays. They carry a row of spines on their backs to help protect them from predators. Another protection feature is a tail that can snap off to allow speedy escape before regrowing.
Salipainters are large, aggressive lizards. They can grow up to 4ft from head to tail. The young have a green/brown colouring between black bands which fade after four weeks to reveal adult colours of black and gold and yellow stripes. They have forked tongues and males also have jowls. Their tails can be easily broken and regrown to evade attack. Sallys are solitary by nature and can live for up to 20 years.
Want to meet these critters yourself? Book a tour with Corbin's Local Wildlife where you can get up close and personal and learn more about their conservation efforts.