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Amazing Panama critters we've met | Moving Abroad With Children: Advice on Moving Overseas

Amazing Panama critters we’ve met

Here’s an easy way to amaze and impress your friends back home: Send them pictures of all of the strange and bizarre critters in your new home abroad.

Funny story… Three years ago we took a vacation to the states to see friends and family.

Since our children have lived in Panama since they were mere toddlers, they were just not familiar with typical American flora and fauna. We were sitting at a picnic table one early afternoon and my son jumped up and yelled, “Dad! Look a squirrel!”

For almost an hour he was enthralled watching the squirrel do what squirrels do — something most Americans take for granted or don’t even notice. He even took pictures of the squirrel so he could show his Panama friends this amazing creature he found (there aren’t many squirrels in Panama.)

So, without further ado, prepare to be impressed by some of the wild creatures we’ve stumbled across in Panama over the past few years. And keep in mind that just like Americans ho-hum attitude towards squirrels, most Panamanians have the same attitude towards the critters below…

baby crocodile in the yard

This dude was in our yard when we first moved to Panama in 2006… And we’ve seen some monsters swimming in the nearby rivers and even the ocean on occasion.

Huge dead stingray

The kids found this dude on the beach one afternoon. If you step on one of these guys and they nail you with the stinger on their tail, the pain is really intense. And despite what you may have heard, peeing on a stingray wound doesn’t help (unless the humiliation of peeing on your leg takes your mind off the pain). Instead, soak the wound in hot water — as hot as you can stand — or rinse with vinegar. And to avoid getting stung in the first place, be sure to shuffle your feet when walking in the surf at low tide. Stingrays usually sting when you step on top of them.

giant beetle

Giant, prehistoric, man-eating beetles are always good for a few hours of fun-filled entertainment for the toddlers in your family.

big spider venao

This guy was napping on our door a few months ago. I have no idea what kind of spider he is, but he looks intimidating. Giant spiders and scorpions are frequent visitors to our humble home. Friendly tip: Chickens consider scorpions a delicacy, so scatter some chickens around the yard and your scorpion problems will disappear (unless the crocodiles eat them of course).


Almost stepped on this guy on a waterfall hike last year. Panama does have some right-deadly snakes but I don’t think this is one of them. As far as I can tell it’s a green vine snake that feasts on small lizards and mice.


A Panama Toucan… Seriously nasty disposition. Seriously. Landed right on top of my daughter’s food and just helped herself to whatever she wanted. Squawked ferociously and was an intimidating little cuss. Pretty to look at though.

Bird with Fish BV

Hawks everywhere, although I don’t know the name of this one. I watched this one dive into the ocean and grab this fish in his talons before landing on the branch. If you look up into the trees near the beach occasionally you’ll see other prey (fish, lizards, rodents) that hawks stash in the branches for a later feast.

Howler monkey

Howler monkey… Very cool. They travel in groups and don’t so much as howl as grunt or bark. We often hear these guys in the mornings and evenings in the trees in the hills around the house.

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