Costa Rica Wildlife and Animals

Animals in Costa Rica

animals of Costa Rica

As the bridge between North America and South American, Costa Rica has wildlife species from both hemispheres.

Your heart will take flight. Costa Rica is unusually blessed by its extraordinary diversity of flora and fauna, 4% of the world's total species! To see such biodiversity first hand is nothing short of awe-inspiring!

But like other places around the world, Costa Rica's is struggling to sustain populations of endangered species. Wildlife is disappearing. For example, illegal hunting is badly decimating the last remaining jaguars on the Osa Peninsula.

Let it grow. Costa Rica is famous for its luxurious rainforests. However a lot of primary forest has been lost to agriculture or development. Efforts to restore those areas are helping keep Costa Rica green. Secondary rainforests grow very well and, if allowed to flourish, can expand habitat and build vital corridors for wildlife.

Costa Rica has other important natural habitats include mountain cloud forests, mangrove swamps and precious stretches of Central American dry forests, found only the Northwest.

In all, botanists have identified over 10,000 species of vascular plants in Costa Rica. That includes more than 2000 tree species and a mind-blowing 1400+ species of orchids!

Costa Rica stats and a sampling of wildlife species...

tapir in Costa Rica
photo courtesy of Natalia Bengis

Humpback whale
photo coutesy of Whit Welles

240+ mammals
wild cats: jaguar, puma, ocelot, margay, jaguarondi
other carnivores: coyote, fox, river otter, coati, raccoon, kinkajou, skunk, olingo
monkeys: howler, spider monkey, capuchin, squirrel monkey
unusual creatures: sloth, anteater, tamandua, armadillo
whales: humpback, sperm, pilot, false killer, orca
dolphins: bottlenose, pantropical spotted, common, spinner, Risso's, rough-toothed
others: agouti, opossums, rabbits, squirrels, shrews, mice, porcupine
hooved: Baird's tapir, peccaries, deer, paca
bats: tent-making bat, disk-winged bat, vampire bat + many other insect-eating and fruit-eating species (about ½ the mammal species in Costa Rica are bats)

890+ species of birds
land: curassows, macaws, toucans, parrots, amazons, cuckoos, motmots, tinamous, guan, woodpeckers, quails, doves, hummingbirds, antbirds, tanagers
vultures: king, black, turkey, yellow-headed
birds of prey: harpy eagle, crested eagle, caracara, hawks, kites, falcons, kestrels, owls
marine: pelicans, boobies, herons, grebes, petrels, cormorant, frigatebirds, ibis, ducks

keel-billed toucan
photo courtesy of Tory Porter

sea turtle in Costa Rica
photo courtesy of Malbert

220+ species of reptiles
sea turtles: leatherback, green, hawksbill, olive ridley, loggerhead
snakes: fer-de-lance, bushmaster, eyelash viper, boa constrictor, coral snake, pelagic sea snake
lizards: iguanas, basilisk lizards, anoles
crocodiles: American crocodile, caiman

170+ species of amphibians
frogs: poison dart frogs, glass frogs, tree frogs, bufo toads (85% of Costa Rica's amphibians are frogs)
others: salamanders, caecilians

yellow tree frog

butterfly costa rica
photo courtesy of rachfog

490,000+ species of invertebrates
butterflies: morpho, swallowtails, longwings, glasswings, peacock (over 1,200 species of butterflies live in Costa Rica)
also: ants, scorpions, spiders, beetles, walking sticks, mantis