What Kinds of Costa Rica Fauna can Ecotourists Expect?
Mammals, birds, insects, reptiles, and amphibians run, creep, fly, and lurk in every corner of Costa Rica – fauna that is matched in few other places on Earth for diversity of species or density of population. The nation is stuffed from edge to edge with plant life which is a colossal, year-round salad for the herbivores to dine upon. Breeding rapidly thanks to the endless supply of leaves, fronds, and fruit, these creatures support the less gentle forms of life as well, from snakes and spiders to the mighty jaguar.
You can expect to see monkeys, hunting cats, peccaries, and large grazing rodents such as agouti, pacas, and porcupines among the Costa Rica mammalian fauna. Otters inhabit the rivers, and such unusual beasts as kinkajous are also to be seen in some habitats. Birds fill the air with their calls and your binoculars with their brilliant plumage, creating a near-embarrassment of riches for bird watching ecotourists.
Insects deserve a special mention for those who have entomological interests, because there are more than three hundred thousands species of them in Costa Rica. From superbly colored butterflies dancing in the sun near a river or perched on the lip of a bromeliad, to the fierce living streams of army ants coursing across the forest floor in search of prey, these tiny creatures are everywhere, and are worthy of observation, too.
What Mammals are found among the Costa Rica Fauna?
A rich selection of mammals dwell in the dozen major habitats which make up the patchwork quilt of Costa Rican ecology. Some of the most noticeable of these to welcome you to the Central American nation are the monkeys that call the forests here their home. The ringing chorus of calls from Howler Monkeys proclaiming their territory is a characteristic sound of the rainforest, and one that you will likely come to associate with Costa Rica itself.
Capuchin monkeys tend to be very bold, and are likely to be those that you see close up. Squirrel monkeys and spider monkeys round out the primate fauna of the jungles here. All are endangered to some degree or another, though efforts are being made to reintroduce them to some areas and to curb the activities that threaten them most.
Cats are another type of large mammal that make a spectacular sight when you are seeking out Costa Rica’s fauna during an ecotourist trip, but are far more elusive, making finding and photographing them an interesting quest. Jaguars stalk both the dry tropical forests of the western slopes of the land, and the cloud forests and rainforests of the east. Margays and Tigrillos dwell in the forests, where they pursue a mostly arboreal lifestyle. The Jaguarundi can often be seen swimming in rivers, and almost resembles a large weasel more than a cat.
There are many other fascinating mammal species here as well. Anteaters prowl in search of insect prey, while tapirs – a horse-like creature which also shares genetic ties to the rhinoceros – are the largest beast of Costa Rica, preferring wet habitats. You may be fortunate enough to see a three-toed sloth during your ecotourism, while bat watchers will appreciate the caves of Barra Honda National Park, where swarms of these insectivorous creatures dwell.
Birds – a Major Part of the Costa Rica Fauna
Hundreds of species of birds flutter, feed, sing, and nest among the innumerable leaves and boughs of the Costa Rican forests. When you are engaged in ecotourism within this nation, there are countless opportunities for birdwatching, photography, and simply enjoying the sight of these dinosaur descendents in every habitat that Costa Rica boasts.
One of the world’s tiniest birds, the Scintillant Hummingbird, lives in the mountains of Costa Rica’s interior. If you climb higher towards the summits of these looming stratovolcanoes, you will find the Volcano Hummingbird replaces the Scintillant at greater elevations. This bird is a fierce, bronze feathered hummingbird a mere three inches in length, which feeds on the flowers found in the “elfin forest” high on the mountain flanks.
The Scarlet Macaw is the undisputed king of Costa Rica’s selection of parrots. Pet poaching has depleted the population hideously, but there are still several national parks where you can sight these birds. White Ibis and Roseate Spoonbill, as well as other aquatic fowl, can be seen throughout the mangrove areas along the Pacific coast as well as in the Palo Verde National Park.
With close to 900 species of birds numbered among Costa Rica’s fauna, you are unlikely to run out of birdwatching possibilities anytime soon. Insects, reptiles (including sea turtles), and amphibians add even more potential for ecotourism in this tropical region.