Most part of the island is nowadays very developed, but still features a variety of habitats giving home to a great range of native and non-native fauna. Exploring St. Martin with an ‘experts eye’ and a close look, the interested traveler distinguishes species living in their natural habitat like coral reefs and sea grass beds, the lagoon in the center, many salt ponds, seaside forests and mangrove wetlands, ephemeral tropical forest up the hills and dry scrubland in the middle of the island.
St. Martin / Sint Maarten is proud of its natural heritage, and recently both sides of the island have created protection programs.
‘La Reserve Naturelle’ on the French side created a nature reserve, comprising sea and terrestrial areas. The Dutch side with its ‘Nature Foundation St. Maarten’ founded the ‘St. Maarten marine park’ including several small islands, and a terrestrial park is planned for the next future.
The island is home to an amazing number of species. Native animals and non-native animals arriving airborne or by the sea, or have been introduced by humans.
Bats – 8 different species have been observed, they are presenting the only native mammal on St. Martin
Rats and mice – thought to have arrived with the first European settlers
Mongoose – introduced to control snakes
Raccoon – put in by man for an unknown reason
Dogs and cats, as pets
Pigs, cattle, goats, horses and donkeys, livestock
Over 100 species, but only 40 species of breeding residents
Seabirds like Pelicans, Red-billed Tropicbirds, Magnificent Frigate Birds, Royal Terns and Sandwich Terns, Laughing Gulls and Brown Booby Birds
Egrets and herons can be easily observed around the many salt ponds and mangroves
Wading birds or Pond birds, many of these are migrating, and can be found on the beach, the rocky tidal zones and salt ponds
Ducks and geese, some nest locally during summer, others are migrants
Terrestrial Birds, Falcons, Hummingbirds, Doves and Pigeons, Perching birds
Several species of reptiles have been observed on St. Martin: a variety of lizards, iguanas, geckos, tortoises and sea turtles.
The lack of permanent freshwater environment makes it a difficult place for amphibians. Different types of Tree frogs exist on St. Martin.
Research documented more than 100 different species of insects on the island. Butterflies and Moth present a great number among them.
Spiders are the most diverse species on the island, after the insects, and are occupying every type of habitat.
Only a few species of non-marine crustaceans are home on St. Martin. The Black Land Crab and the Mangrove Crab are less often seen, they live under rocks during daytime. Caribbean hermit crabs are frequent, near the coast and salt ponds the Great Land Crabs can be observed. The mangrove wetlands give home to the Fiddler Crabs, and The Ghost Crab can be seen on sandy beaches.
Several classes are present on the island: Arachnidan, Chilipoda (includes the giant centipede) and Diplopod (millipedes). Those animals are normally nocturnal, and are living mainly in forested mountain areas.
Around 40 different species have been documented on St. Martin, and are often beautiful and colored.