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Costa Rica wildlife is one of the best reasons to visit this small but amazingly biodiverse country. Stay with us and discover that Costa Rica is more than just sloths hanging at the trees.

costa rica wildlife

Costa Rica wildlife

If immersing yourself in nature, enjoying sunny beaches, tropical forests, magnificent waterfalls and majestic volcanoes is your idea of the perfect getaway, then Costa Rica is your place to visit.


Costa Rica is located in Central America between Nicaragua and Panama.  Thanks to the rugged topography, the two seas that bathe its coasts and its position in the tropics, Costa Rica has a great variety of habitats in only 19,691 square miles. Its small territory is home to 500,000 species, representing 5% of all the planet’s biodiversity in an area that represents only 0.03% of the entire land area of the Earth.


Costa Rica wildlife is made up of about 920 species of birds (9% of the world’s species), 231 species of mammals, 255 species of reptiles, 493.000 species of invertebrates (insects, crustaceans, starfish, etc.), 175 species of amphibians, 15 species of turtles, among others.


From all this great list, we have selected the top 5 animals that we love from Costa Rica, apart from the beautiful sloth, which although it is very cute, does not represent the great variety of species that can be seen throughout the territory of the country.


Costa Rica wildlife: Top 5 species


1.Howler Monkey

Undoubtedly, this funny animal is a favorite of all people among the wildlife of Costa Rica. One of its most impressive features is its powerful howl that can be heard at a distance of 3 miles around. It is so powerful that some people believe they have heard a lion roar.

In Costa Rica they can be found in almost all its territory, however they are considered an endangered species due to the loss of their habitat.

A total of about 4 species of monkeys can be found in the country and are part of Costa Rica wildlife: the howler monkey, the white-faced monkey, the spider monkey and the squirrel monkey.



Costa Rica Wildlife Hummingbird

Image courtesy of Ralph Paonessa

Of the 330 species of hummingbirds in the world, Costa Rica is home to about 54 species, so it is considered a paradise when you want to enjoy them. Hummingbirds can only be found in the Americas and are the smallest birds in the world.

Due to its great capacity for adaptation, a large number of habitats can be seen in a large amount of the national territory.

Its striking way of flying, is one of its most striking features, managing to beat its wings from 55 to 75 times per second. Another important feature is bright plumage with intense metallic colors ranging from green, blue, yellow and purple.


3. Jaguar

In Costa Rica wildlife, the jaguar is the “king of the jungle.” The jaguar is the third-largest feline in the world and the largest in America. In Costa Rica, it inhabits national parks such as the Santa Rosa park in Guanacaste, as well as other smaller protected areas.

The jaguar is in danger of extinction and its main threat is the human being. Farmers have been their executioners for a long time being a threat to cattle. Nowadays they are widely threatened by development as they are victims of being hit on the roads of our country.

Jaguars are territorial animals and need large areas of land to move. They live close to 12 years in their natural habitats and are hunters by nature. Its main sources of food are deer, monkeys, tapir, reptiles, fish, among others. An interesting fact is that they are skilled swimmers.


4. Tapir

Costa Rica Wildlife Tapir

Image courtesy of Tico Times

Of all the Costa Rica wildlife, the Tapir is one of our favorites, perhaps one of the least known and probably one of the most important in forest conservation.

The Tapir is the largest land mammal in Costa Rica. It is difficult to see, as it is an endangered species and because they are nocturnal animals. Its population has limited itself to inhabiting national parks around the country, including the Guanacaste Conservation Area.

These gentle giants of the Costa Rica wildlife can weigh up to 900 lbs measuring an average of 2 meters. Although they are called “mountain cows” they are family of horses and rhinos and not of cows.

The tapir plays a very important role in the biodiversity of our forests because they are responsible for disseminating seeds and fertilizing them, becoming one of the most important allies in the fight against climate change.


5. Sea Turtle

Costa Rica wildlife seaturtles

Image courtesy of CRHoy

One of the biggest shows that can be seen in Costa Rica and that nature gives us is turtle nesting.

In Costa Rica you can find about 5 species of sea turtles:

The Pacific Ridley Sea Turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea)


The Leatherback Sea Turtle (Dermochelys coricea)


The Hawksbill Sea Turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata)


The Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas)


The loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta)

One of the most special places in Costa Rica to see the turtle nesting is in Guanacaste, the Ostional nature reserve. When you stay with us, your personal concierge will help you book your turtle spawning tour.

Sea turtles have been on the planet for millions of millions of years. However, currently all its species are threatened.

Between September and November, the famous arrivals arrive, being able to witness up to 300,000 sea turtles coming out of the sea to nest their eggs. Other turtles such as the leatherback, impress by its immense size reaching up to 7.2 feet and weighing up to 1,500 lbs. For its part, the Hawksbill Sea Turtle is greatly admired for the beauty of its shell. The shells of the hawksbill and the material that constitutes them (also called hawksbill) have been used to make decorative objects, which has been a threat to their survival.


Visiting Costa Rica is a great experience. If you are looking to stay in a spectacular place surrounded by Costa Rica wildlife, do not hesitate to contact us.


We invite you to learn more about our country and its natural beauty in our blog.