Western Panama: Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro consists of six densely forested islands, many uninhabited islets, and Panama's oldest marine park, Parque Nacional Marino Isla Bastimentos. Bocas del Toro was visited by Christopher Columbus on his fourth and final voyage in 1502. The area has vast banana plantations.

We based ourselves at Tranquilo Bay, the oldest and most remote resort on Bastimentos Island for bird and wildlife photography on the Caribbean side of Panama's westernmost province. The lodge has a 63' bird-watching tower and trained naturalist guides.



Anteaters: The lesser anteater uses its claws to rip open ant and termite nests for food.

Northern Tamandua, Tamandua mexicana

Bats: The greater sac-winged bat is the most common bat seen in the rainforest. They are native to Central and South America.

Great white-lined (greater sac-winged) bat, Saccopteryx bilineata

Jamaican fruit-eating bat, Artibeus jamaicensis (or possibly Seba's short-tailed bat, Carollia perspilillata)

Monkeys: Capuchins are common, easily observable and dexterous, making and using tools for defense and to get food.

Panamanian white-faced capuchin, Cebus imitator

Opossums: The Central American Woolly Opossum is found in deiduous and moist evergreen forests of Central America.

Central American (Derby's) Woolly Opossum, Caluromys derbianus

Sloths: Three-toed sloths have a short stubby tail and a raccoon-like face mask. Two-toed sloths, which also have three toes on their hind feet, have no tail and no mask. Both eat mainly leaves.

Brown-throated three-toed sloth, Bradypus variegatus

Hoffmann's two-toed sloth, Choloepus hoffmanni

Squirrels: The Alfaro's Pygmy Squirrel is a small tree squirrel native to Central American rainforests.

Alfaro's Pygmy (Central Americam Dwarf) Squirrel, Microsciurus alfari


Basilisks, especially young ones, can run on water. These diurnally active lizards sleep in trees overhanging water.

Striped (brown) basilisk (male left, female right), Basiliscus vittatus

Green basilisk (male left, female right), Basiliscus plumifrons

Caimans: This crocodilian is brownish, greenish, or yellowish-grey with a spectacle-like ridge between its eyes.

Spectacled (white, common, speckled) caiman, Caiman crocodilus

Iguanas are large, arboreal, mostly herbivorous lizards.

Green (American, common green) iguana, Iguana iguana

Lizards: Anoles are green or brownish lizards native to the warmer parts of the Americas.

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Cryptic slender anole, Anolis cryptilimifrons

Ground (humble) anole, Anolis humilis

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Snakes: This nonvenomous snake is native to the New World. It often eats bird eggs. They change colors as they age.

Bird-eating (puffing, bird) snake, Phrynonax poecilonotus



Illioneus giant owl (Dusky owl butterfly), Caligo illioneus

Mylotes (Arcas, pink-checked, true) cattleheart, Parides eurimedes

Glasswing, Greta oto


Frangipani hornworm, Pseudosphinx tetrio


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Frogs and toads:

Rainforest rocket frog, Silverstoneia flotator (identification tentative)

Green and black poison dart frog, Dendrobates auratus

Strawberry poison dart frog, Oophaga pumillo

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Green climbing (evergreen) toad, Incilius coniferus

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Golden silk orb-weaver (banana) spider (females left, male right), Trichonephilia clavipes

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Last modified 26 March 2024