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Wildlife in Costa Rica

Lush and green all year round, flora and fauna abound in Costa Rica and over 200 mammal species rustle stealthily through the undergrowth.

Lush and green all year round, flora and fauna abound in Costa Rica and over 200 mammal species rustle stealthily through the undergrowth. Whilst many are elusive, jaguar, ocelot, margay, puma, jaguarundi, sloths, monkeys, bats and armadillo are all waiting to be spotted, particularly during night hikes. Reptiles and amphibians also thrive in this ecological haven, with over 170 amphibians, such as colourful tree frogs and dart frogs seen alongside snakes, caiman, lizards and iguanas.


Costa Rica is home to several species of sloth including the two-toed and three-toed sloth. Sloths are one of the world’s slowest mammals, so when you do see one the chances are it won't be moving very fast. Hoffman’s two-toed sloths are the most common sloth species in Costa Rica and can be found in forests throughout the country. This species is not as seriously endangered as their three-toed counterparts, but they are threatened by loss of habitat and hunting in certain countries, such as Brazil.

Lapa Rios Wildlife1


Costa Rica is home to four different species of monkeys, including howler, Capuchin, squirrel and spider. The sounds of howler monkeys may sound terrifying for a first-time visitor in Costa Rica, but these monkeys are in fact peaceful vegetarians. White-Faced Capuchin monkeys are easily seen in Costa Rica. They live in groups of up to 25 animals and are extremely curious and agile, primarily feeding on fruit. Spider Monkeys are the most intelligent species. Their muscular, prehensile tail can support the animal’s whole weight and with long, slender arms, the monkey can gracefully swing through the canopy. The fourth, and smallest of Costa Rica’s monkey species inhabits the rainforests of the Central and Southern Pacific coastal areas. The squirrel monkey’s small size, expressive face, and playful demeanor make it a joy to watch.


Costa Rica is home to the tamandua, a type of anteater. The tamandua is a medium-sized anteater with a long snout and a prehensile tail and they primarily feed on ants and termites, using their long, sticky tongues to extract insects from nests. They are arboreal creatures, spending a significant amount of time in trees, but they also come down to the ground in search of food.


Costa Rica is home to two species of peccaries: the Collared Peccary (Pecari tajacu) and the White-lipped Peccary (Tayassu pecari). Peccaries are pig-like mammals native to the Americas and are part of the Tayassuidae family and play important roles in the ecosystems they inhabit by contributing to seed dispersal through their feeding habits.


A carnivorous mammal found in the forests of Central and South America, including Costa Rica. It belongs to the weasel family (Mustelidae) and is known for its sleek, dark brown fur and a distinct whitish or yellowish patch on its throat or chest. Tayras have a long, bushy tail and relatively short legs. Tayras are versatile predators, feeding on a variety of prey, including small mammals, birds, reptiles, and insects. They are excellent climbers and spend a significant amount of time in trees, but they are also skilled on the ground. Tayras are primarily solitary animals and are known for their agility and curiosity.


The agouti is a rodent that plays a crucial role in seed dispersal as it collects and buries seeds, helping in the regeneration of plants in the ecosystem. The Central American Agouti has a brownish or reddish-brown fur coat and can be recognized by its slender body, long legs, and a distinctive white stripe on its throat. They are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day, and they primarily feed on fruits, seeds, and vegetation. Agoutis are important in maintaining the ecological balance of their habitats, and their presence contributes to the overall health of the ecosystem.

Big Cats

The largest cat species in the Americas, the elusive Jaguar and can be found Corcovado National Park - if you are very lucky. Alongside jaguars, other species of cat include ocelot, margay, and even puma.


Many endangered sea turtles lay their eggs on the sandy shores of Tortuguero National Park, including leatherback, olive ridley, green, loggerhead and hawksbill turtles. Containing a marine and land dual eco-system, the park was created to protect the green turtle due to its perfect nesting ground. The famed Osa Peninsula is also a great place to witness species such as green turtles foraging in the shallow waters.

Costa Rica Birdlife

Costa Rica is a sanctuary for birds and there are over 900 recorded species in the country, making it one of the most biodiverse countries for avian life in the world. If you’re a bird lover, Costa Rica is one of the best countries for you to visit. Below are some of the most notable and iconic bird species you can find in Costa Rica:

Often seen and heard in the Pacific coastal region, the iconic Scarlet Macaw are large, vibrant red and blue parrots. In addition to scarlet macaws, Costa Rica is home to several other parrot and parakeet species, including the Orange-chinned Parakeet and the Red-lored Parrot

The Resplendent Quetzal is considered one of the most beautiful birds in the world, with its iridescent green and red plumage. It is a symbol of Central America and can be found in cloud forests. Besides the Resplendent Quetzal, Costa Rica is home to various trogon species, including the Collared Trogon and the Black-throated Trogon. The stunning Elegant Trogon with its metallic green and red plumage is another gem of Costa Rica's cloud forests.

You will also find various species of Toucans, including the Keel-billed Toucan and the Chestnut-mandibled Toucan, are known for their large, colourful bills.

Costa Rica is home to numerous Hummingbird species, such as the Fiery-throated Hummingbird, the Violet-crowned Woodnymph, and the Rufous-tailed Hummingbird.

The Turquoise-browed Motmot is a common species in Costa Rica, these striking birds have long tail feathers with distinctive "racket" tips.

The Red-capped Manakin is a small, colourful bird known for their elaborate courtship displays.

The wetland areas and coastal regions in Costa Rica are also home to a variety of Herons and egrets, including the Great Egret and the Boat-billed Heron. Costa Rica also has a variety of birds of prey, including the Harpy Eagle, Osprey, and several species of hawks and vultures.