In the Maya jungle and along the white sand beaches of Quintana Roo all sorts of reptiles can be seen on any given day.
At the Maya ruins of Tulum, large handsome Black Spiny Tailed Iguanas (Ctenosaura similis) can be observed relaxing, eating and lying in the sun. Accustomed to hoards of tourists, these tame lizards tend to bob their heads in communication when gazed upon.
The Striped Basilisk (Bassiliscus vittatus) is easy to see near fresh water such as cenotes in the jungle. Very agile and known to run upright on water with it´s large back feet propelling it´s mass, this small lizard eats insects, little fish and other small creatures. The male version has a large crested head which resembles a little velociraptor while both sexes have the ability to change color in camouflage.
The expansive Maya jungle also is home for over 70 species of snakes. Very few are dangerous to humans and all serve as natural pest control against rodents and varmints. The largest are the non venomous Boa Constrictor ("Oxcan" in Mayan) and can reach 4 to 6 meters in length! Living in the natural honeycomb caves of the limestone shelf known as the Yucatan Peninsula, Boas are rarely seen.
Crocodiles (Crocodylus acutus) inhabit mangroves and lakes, and can be easily seen lakeside at the Maya ruins of Coba just 30 minutes west of Tulum town. Or rent a paddle boat and explore the expansive Sian Kaán Bioreserve just south of Tulum on the beach road.
Freshwater and sea turtles are abundantly found throughout the area. Xcacel turtle sanctuary is a wonderful place to swim and snorkel with large sea turtles, located just north of the little known Maya ruins of Xel Ha.