Plant and animal life differs sharply with Mexico's varied climate and topography. The coastal plains are covered with a tropical rain forest, which merges into subtropical and temperate growth as the plateau is ascended. In the northern states there is a dry steppe vegetation, with desert flora over much of the area. Oaks and conifers are found in mixed forest regions along the mountain slopes. The Yucatán Peninsula has a scrubby vegetation.
Among the wild animals are the armadillo, tapir, opossum, puma, jaguar, bear, and several species of monkey, deer, and boar. Poisonous snakes and harmful insects are found. In the coastal marshes, malarial mosquitoes pose a problem. The only remaining elephant seals in the world are on Guadalupe Island west of Baja California.