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Costa Rica offers many reasons to transform your trip into a dream vacation. Knowing and experiencing wildlife to the fullest is one of them, especially if you love animals. It doesn’t matter if you go to national parks, tropical rainforests, the central pacific coast, or any other spectacular spot, you will encounter a wide variety of beautiful animals that will amaze you.
From exotic mammals to colorful, unique birds, or outstanding aquatic animals, expect to be blown away. Keep reading to learn not only about some animals in Costa Rica, but also about where to see them, so that you don’t miss that chance.
Thanks to its geographical location, Costa Rica is one of the countries with the greatest variety of birds per square meter in America. According to the Ornithological Association of Costa Rica, the staggering number of recorded bird species reaches 922.
Toucans are surely one of the most beautiful birds you will ever see. Their particularly large and brightly colored beaks have made them a highly popular bird in the world. Costa Rica is home to six species of toucans, however, the most famous are:
This is the largest toucan in Costa Rica and the second largest in the world. The plumage is composed of black, deep yellow, a narrow white line, and an extensive red line. The bicolored bill can grow up to 7 inches long, it is dark yellow-brown and dark brown, while the feet and legs are blue. You can see the chestnut-mandibled toucan in Tortuguero National Park, Corcovado National Park, and Drake Bay.
Great Green Macaws
Out of the 350 known hummingbird species on the planet, Costa Rica has over 50, distributed throughout the country. Hummingbirds are not only the smallest bird species in the world but the only ones able to flap their wings more than 70 times per second. Two of the most beautiful ones you can spot in Costa Rica are:
This hummingbird has brilliant bronze-green feathers on the back and a dark tail. Mangrove hummingbirds can only be found in Costa Rica, they measure between 3,7 and 4,3 inches and weigh approximately 4.5 grams. You can find them in Térraba-Sierpe National Wetland and La Paz Waterfall Gardens.
This is a tiny hummingbird. The male is unique and beautiful, his body is the color of red wine and he has a bright white cap. The female is less flashy, with snowy white underparts, and a short straight bill. Snowcap hummingbirds can be seen in El Tapir Reserve, Braulio Carrillo National Park, and Las Brisas Nature Reserve.
These are known by their lengthy limbs and great agility, their tail is long and used skillfully to move between branches. Curiously, spider monkeys are the ones who don’t have a thumb.
Spot spider monkeys at Tortuguero National Park, Barra del Colorado, Rincón de la Vieja National Park, and Palo Verde.
Mantled Howler Monkey
Mantled howler monkeys are among the largest monkeys in the tropical forests of Latin America. Its head-body length is 22 to 36 inches. The tail is extremely long, as much or more than its body. They are black with yellowish or reddish tones.
These monkeys can be found in Monteverde Cloud Forest, Osa Peninsula, and Manuel Antonio National Park.
These are the smallest monkey species in Costa Rica. Their fur is short and yellowish olive, their back and limbs are orange, the crest of their head, snout, and eyes are black, and their cheekbones and nose are skin-colored.
They are not so easy to spot as they are in danger of extinction, but you could find them in Corcovado National Park, Manuel Antonio, and the Osa Peninsula.
White-Faced Capuchin Monkeys
Known for being quite smart, these monkeys are primarily black with creamy white on the head, chest, and shoulders. Their face is pink and their tail is larger than their body.
You can see white-faced capuchin monkeys in Arenal Volcano National Park, Carara National Park, Manuel Antonio National Park, and Corcovado National Park.
Two-toed sloths are easy to identify, they have 3 toes on their hind feet and only 2 on their front feet. They tend to be a light brown or blonde color and have a nose that resembles that of a pig. These sloths are more difficult to find since they are usually active at night, but you might see them at Diamante Eco-Adventure Park, Corcovado National Park, and Manuel Antonio.
Jaguars are the only panthera species tracked down in the Americas. Being the only big cat in Costa Rica, this majestic feline’s average weight is 249 pounds and it can be up to 6,56 feet long. Jaguars are generally muscular with a yellow background fur and large black spots.
If you are lucky you can see them in Tortuguero, Monteverde, Corcovado National Park, or in la Paz Waterfall Gardens.
Pumas are the second biggest wild cats in America after jaguars. In Costa Rica, pumas can be found on both Pacific and Caribbean slopes, from primary to secondary forests, thickets, mangroves, subalpine grasslands, and open paramos. Pumas have spotless fur, it is usually either golden, gray or reddish.
You can see them in Las Pumas Rescue Center, Corcovado, Santa Rosa and Monteverde Cloud forest.
Ocelots have a medium size, a small head, and a short tail compared to the size of their body. Their short, dull gray hair has strong brown spots bordered by a black band and they have big brown eyes.
Find them in Corcovado National park, Arenal, and La Paz Waterfall Gardens.
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Coral snakes are very colorful and flashy. There are two types in Costa Rica, the three-color ring coral with red, black, and yellow rings all over their body, and the two-color ring coral with either black and red rings, or black and white rings.
It is recommended to see all these snakes in captivity in La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Wildlife Center Snake Garden, Zoo Ave.
The American Crocodile
Leatherback Sea Turtles
Hawksbill Sea Turtles
The name of this turtle is given due to the beak shape of its upper jaw. The hawksbill sea turtle has an oval shell and is one of the smallest of all sea turtles, measuring up to 35 inches in length and reaching up to 176 pounds. They can be seen at Tortuguero National park, Gandoca Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge.
Loggerhead Sea Turtles
Green Sea Turtles
Olive Ridley Sea Turtles
White-Tip Reef Sharks
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Amphibians & Insects
Red-Eyed Tree Frog
Poison Dart Frogs
Poison dart frogs are species with toxic skin. They are easily recognized both for their bright and unique combination of colors and for their tiny size (around 1,9 inches). The 8 species found in Costa Rica are most likely seen at Tortuguero National Park, Puerto Viejo (Talamanca) or Puerto Viejo (Sarapiqui).
Blue Morpho Butterfly
This is one of the most common species of butterflies in Costa Rica and the largest in the world, their wingspan is up to 8 inches long. The way their scales are arranged magically reflect light showing a unique blue color. You can be around them at La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Monteverde Butterfly Gardens, and The Butterfly Farm.
Even though this was just a quick summary of the outstanding animals you can see in Costa Rica, we hope it was good enough to entice you. So, pack your bags and embark on the unforgettable adventure of experiencing Costa Rica’s wildlife to the fullest.