Animals in Costa Rica

Below you can find a complete list of Costa Rican animals. We currently track 218 animals in Costa Rica and are adding more every day!

The list of animals in Costa Rica is long. Go to almost any zoo globally, and you will see Costa Rican animals because many of them are very unusual. According to Costa Rica’s National Biodiversity Institute, there are over 894 bird species, with over 600 of them living in the country all the time.

Additionally, there are over 250 mammals, 225 reptiles, 171 amphibians, 8,000 moths, and 1,251 butterfly species. Learning about animals native to Costa Rica, especially colorful Costa Rican animals, can be great fun when you go on an eco-tourism tour.

The Official National Animal of Costa Rica

The official animal of Costa Rica is the white-tail deer. Officials chose this animal because of its characteristics that symbolize Costa Ricans. Its tenderness, strength, peace, energy, fertility, and prosperity are reasons lawmakers chose this species.

White-tail deer mainly live on the savannahs located inside national parks in the country’s southern part. Bucks usually only grow to be about four feet tall and weigh about 150 pounds. While you are more likely to see white-tail deer in the country’s southern part, they usually grow bigger in the country’s northern regions. Regardless of location, if they sense danger approaching, they will flip their tails, pant, and stomp their hooves. They may also flash their white underside to get the attention of other nearby deer. While you will see Costa Rican animals of many different colors, it is not that way with deer as they only see in black and white.

Where To Find The Top Wildlife in Costa Rica

One of the top places to see wild animals in Costa Rica is the Osa Peninsula. This area in the country’s southwestern part offers prime viewing of animals in Costa Rica at Corcovado National Park, where over 463 bird species and 140 mammal species live. You may see monkeys, tapirs, sloths, jaguarundis, pumas, ocelots, and jaguars.

Next to Corcovado National Park is Golfito National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge is a terrific place to go birdwatching as it is home to over 200 bird species, including parrots, macaws, herons, and owls. This location is also a fantastic place to see spider and howler monkeys along with anteaters.

These two bordering locations are close to Golfo Dulce. Traveling to the other side will bring you to Piedras Blancas National Park, where over 96 mammal species live, including jaguars, pumas, coatimundi, skunks, sloths, monkeys, rodents, and bats. This park is home to jaguars, ocelots, pumas, jaguarundi, margays, although they can be hard to see because most of them are nocturnal.

There are also many other wonderful places to see animals native to Costa Rica like:

The Most Dangerous Animals In Costa Rica Today

There are many dangerous amphibians in Costa Rica, like the coral snake, American crocodiles, and poison dart frogs. The Clodomiro Picado Institute estimates that there are two deadly snakes per hectare in the country. The most dangerous snake in Costa Rica is the fer-de-lance. While it is not the most venomous, its breeding patterns, aggressive attitude, and rapid venom production mean that this species is responsible for almost all the snake bites in Costa Rica.

Additionally, there are also dangerous animals in Costa Rica, like:

  • Puma – One of the most dangerous is the puma. Over the last 100 years, puma attacks have killed at least 44 people.
  • Bulls – Rodeoing is very popular in Costa Rica. Annually, bulls kill riders and bullfighters.
  • Jaguars – The second largest cat in Costa Rica is also one of the most dangerous animals in costa Rica. Most people who jaguars kill are encroaching on their territory.

Endangered Animals In Costa Rica

Unfortunately, there are more than 200 endangered animals in Costa Rica. Several different factors contribute to causing extinct animals in costa Rica, including deforestation, human development, unsustainable fishing and hunting practices, poaching, and illegal pet trade.

Some of these threatened or extinct animals in Costa Rica include:

  • Central American squirrel monkey – Standing less than 11 inches tall, these russet-brown monkeys usually live in groups of up to 70 individuals. Look for them in the Manuel Antonio National Park.
  • Baird’s tapir – These pig-like animals look like they have the beginnings of an elephant’s trunk for a nose. They are nocturnal and stand about 6 feet tall. A slow birth rate and habitat loss have left them endangered, but visitors may catch a rare sighting at Corcovado National Park.
  • Jaguar – The fact that locals believe that jaguars kill more livestock and humans than they do has led to this cat with its spotted coat being overhunted. It can be challenging to spot this nocturnal animal that lives in Costa Rica’s rainforests.
  • Geoffroy’s spider monkey – Hunting, deforestation, and the illegal exotic pet trade threaten the very social Geoffroy’s, but you may still be able to see this monkey that often stands up about 18-inches tall at the Santa Rosa National Park and the Corcovado National Park.
  • Jaguarundi – This cat, which is the smallest of Costa Rica’s cat family, is the only one to be more active during the day than at night. Deforestation and habitat loss threaten this extremely territorial animal, but visitors may still catch a sighting at the Palo Verde National Park.

Where to See Animals in Costa Rica?

There are many terrific places to see animals in Costa Rica Including:

There are many different types of animals that live in Costa Rica. Learn more about them today by participating in an eco-tourism vacation and enjoy seeing the colorful Costa Rican animals.

Costa Rican Animals

Amazon Parrot

These parrots can be trained to be "talking birds" that mimic human speech

Anole Lizard

There are just under 400 species, several of which change color.

Ant

First evolved 100 million years ago!

Anteater

Found throughout the Southern Hemisphere!

Armadillo

Can curl into a hard, protective ball!

Armyworm

They are so named because they "march" in armies of worms from one crop to another in search of food

Barn Owl

Found everywhere around the world!

Barn Swallow

Older offspring help care for new hatchlings.

Basilisk Lizard

Can run/walk on water.

Bat

Detects prey using echolocation!

Bear

There are 8 different species!

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs feed for 4-12 minutes.

Bee

Rock paintings of bees date back 15,000 years

Beetle

There are more than 350,000 different species

Bird

Not all birds are able to fly!

Biscuit Beetle

The biscuit beetle form a symbiotic relationship with yeast

Black Widow Spider

They typically prey on insects!

Blind Snake

The blind snake is often mistaken for a worm.

Blue grosbeak

Blue grosbeak parents take off the head, legs and wings of an insect before feeding it to their baby.

Booby

Seabirds found across the South Pacific!

Brown Dog Tick

Can live its entire life indoors

Burrowing Owl

The burrowing owl lives in underground burrows

Butterfly

There are thought to be up 17,500 species!

Caecilian

Some species' babies use their hooked or scraper-like teeth to peel off and eat their mother's skin

Caiman

Can grow to up 6 meters long!

Camel Cricket

The camel crickets that are found in the USA are light brown in color. They also have dark streaks all over their body.

Carpenter Ant

Carpenter ants can lift up to seven times their own weight with their teeth!

Cat

First domesticated by the Ancient Egyptians!

Caterpillar

The larvae of a moth or butterfly!

Catfish

There are nearly 3,000 different species!

Centipede

There are about 3,000 documented species!

Checkered Garter Snake

It has the ability to expel a stinky liquid from its body as a way to make predators (and humans) retreat!

Chicken

First domesticated more than 10,000 years ago!

Cichlid

There are more than 2 000 known species!

Coati

Found in dense forests and wet jungles!

Cockroach

Dated to be around 300 million years old!

Codling Moth

Pupae are able to undergo diapause to survive poor fruit yield years and winter.

Collared Peccary

Form bands of up to 12 individuals!

Common Furniture Beetle

The common furniture beetle feeds exclusively on wood

Common House Spider

House spiders have the ability to eat most insects in a home.

Coral Snake

There are over 80 species of coral snake worldwide.

Cow

There are nearly 1.5 million worldwide!

Crab

There are 93 different crab groups

Crab Spider

Crab Spiders can mimic ants or bird droppings

Cricket

Male crickets can produce sounds by rubbing their wings together

Crocodile

Have changed little in 200 million years!

Crow

A group of these birds is called a Murder.

Dog

First domesticated in South-East Asia!

Dog Tick

Dog ticks feed on dogs and other mammals

Donkey

First domesticated 5,000 years ago!

Dragonfly

It's larvae are carnivorous!

Dubia Cockroach

The most popular species of feeder roach

Duck

Rows of tiny plates line their teeth!

Dung Beetle

The dung beetle can push objects many times its own weight

Dwarf Boa

Some species can change color from dark to light, and back again.

Earthworm

They are hermaphrodites, which means they have male and female organs

Earwig

There are nearly 2,000 different species!

Eel

Eels can be a mere few inches long to 13 feet!

Elegant Tern

Have a lifespan of 20 years or more

Falcon

The fastest creatures on the planet!

False Widow Spider

False spiders actually prey on black widow spiders and other hazardous spiders

Fiddler Crab

The fiddler crab gets its name from the motion the males make with their over-sized claw during the mating ritual.

Firefly

The firefly produces some of the most efficient light in the world

Flea

Adult fleas can jump up to 7 inches in the air

Fly

There are more than 240,000 different species!

Flying Squirrel

Can glide up to 90 meters!

Frog

There are around 7,000 different species!

Fruit Fly

Fruit flies are among the most common research animals in the world

Gar

Can grow to more than 3m long!

Garter Snake

Female garter snakes give birth to live young rather than laying eggs!

Gecko

There are thought to be over 2,000 species!

German Cockroach

The most common type of urban roach

Giant Leopard Moth

When giant leopard moths mate, their mating sessions last over 24 hours.

Glass Frog

You can see their internal organs.

Glow Worm

Found inhabiting dense woodland and caves!

Gnat

Males form large mating swarms at dusk

Grasshopper

There are 11,000 known species!

Gray Fox

The gray fox has retractable claws and a rotating wrist that allow it to climb trees with some proficiency

Great Blue Heron

Their wingspan is larger than an eagle’s; both males and females help hatch the eggs; rich in symbolism

Great Crested Flycatcher

This species makes use of some truly unusual nesting material, including snakeskin and garbage

Guppy

Also known as the Millionfish!

Hamster

Able to run as quickly backwards as forwards!

Hare

Can reach speeds of over 40 mph!

Harpy Eagle

Talon's the size of a grizzly bear's claws!

Harris Hawk

Their vision is eight times better than a human's

Hawk Moth Caterpillar

Many hawk moth caterpillars eat toxins from plants, but don’t sequester them the way milkweed butterflies do. Most toxins are excreted.

Hercules Beetle

This dynastine scarab beetle makes a weird huffing sound when it’s disturbed.

Heron

Inhabits wetlands around the world!

Honduran White Bat

The bat only eats figs.

Honey Bee

There are only 8 recognized species!

Horse

Has evolved over 50 million years!

Horsefly

Horseflies have been seen performing Immelmann turns, much like fighter jets.

House wren

The wren’s epithet, aedon, comes from a Greek queen who accidentally killed her only son. She was actually aiming for her nephew, and Zeus took pity on her and turned her into a nightingale.

Housefly

The fly has no teeth

Howler Monkey

Spends 80% of it's time resting!

Human

Thought to have orignated 200,000 years ago!

Hummingbird

Beat their wings up to 80 times per second!

Huntsman Spider

Some huntsman spiders have an interesting way of moving around. Some cartwheel while others do handsprings or backflips.

Ibis

Found in swamps, marshes and wetlands!

Iguana

Uses visual signals to communicate!

Insects

There are an estimated 30 million species!

Jacana

The jacana has the ability to swim underwater

Jaguar

The largest feline on the American continent!

Jumping Spider

Some can jump 50 times the length of their bodies

Keel-Billed Toucan

It's beak can reach nearly 20 cm long!

Kingfisher

Inhabits wetlands and woodlands worldwide!

Kinkajou

The kinkajou is a nimble forest-dwelling mammal of Central and South America.

Ladybug

There are more than 5,000 species worldwide!

Leech

Has 10 pairs of eyes!

Leopard Frog

They can jump up to three feet

Lizard

There are around 5,000 different species!

Locust

Each locust can eat its weight in plants each day.

Lone Star Tick

Only females have the ‘lone star’ marking

Macaw

The largest species of parrot in the world!

Maggot

Will only live in wet areas

Mahi Mahi (Dolphin Fish)

It's called the rabbit of the ocean because it multiplies so quickly.

Marine Toad

Produces a toxin used in arrow darts!

Mayfly

There are 2,500 known species worldwide!

Mealybug

They have a symbiotic relationship with ants.

Mexican Free-Tailed Bat

Some colonies have millions of bats

Millipede

Some species have a poisonous bite!

Mole

Primarily hunts and feeds on Earthworms!

Mole Cricket

Adult Mole crickets may fly as far as 5 miles during mating season and are active most of the year.

Molly

Known for their calm and peaceful nature!

Monarch Butterfly

During migration, Monarch Butterflies may travel 250 or more miles each day.

Mongrel

Has characteristics of two or more breeds!

Monkey

There are around 260 known species!

Moorhen

Feeds on aquatic insects and water-spiders!

Mosquito

Only the female mosquito actually sucks blood

Moth

There are 250,000 different species!

Mountain Lion

Has no real natural predators!

Mourning Dove

It is almost always the male who makes the famous sad sound, which is a wooing call

Mouse

Found on every continent on Earth!

Mule

The offspring of a horse and donkey parents!

No See Ums

There are more than 5,000 species.

Ocelot

Also known as the Painted Leopard!

Orange-Crowned Warbler

Often mistaken for the Tennessee Warblers, which are equally dull.

Orb Weaver

Females are about four times the size of males

Otter

There are 13 different species worldwide

Owl

The owl can rotate its head some 270 degrees

Panther

Prefers to hunt at night than during the day!

Parrot

Can live for up to 100 years!

Peregrine Falcon

Fastest animal on Earth

Pheasant

Females lay between 8 and 12 eggs per clutch!

Pigeon

They can find their way back to their nests from up to 1300 miles away.

Poison Dart Frog

Inhabits the jungles of Central and South America!

Porcupine

There are 30 different species worldwide!

Praying Mantis

The mantis can turn its head 180 degrees.

Puma

Has longer back legs than front legs!

Quail

Inhabits woodland and forest areas worldwide!

Quetzal

The tail feathers of the male can be 1m long!

Raccoon

Known to wash their food before eating it!

Rainbow Boa

The rainbow boa is named for its iridescent skin that refracts light and creates a rainbow-colored effect.

Rat

Omnivores that eat anything!

Rat Snakes

Rat snakes are constrictors from the Colubridae family of snakes.

Rattlesnake

It's venom digests it's prey before it even swallows it!

River Turtle

Inhabits freshwater habitats around the world!

Robin

There are more than 45 species in Australia alone!

Rodents

The capybara, the world’s largest rodent, likes to be in and around bodies of water. Because of this, the Catholic Church in South America decided that it was a fish, and people were allowed to eat it during Lent and First Fridays.

Rooster

Will mate with the entire flock!

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Rose-breasted grosbeaks are closely related to cardinals

Roseate Spoonbill

The only Spoonbill in the western hemisphere!

Saber-Toothed Tiger

Canines up to 7 inches long!

Sable Ferret

Ferrets were used during the Revolutionary War to keep down the rat population.

Salamander

There are more than 700 different species!

Sand Crab

The sand crab burrows beneath the sand with its tail

Scarlet Macaw

Like many parrots, the scarlet macaw is capable of vocal mimicry.

Scorpion

There are around 2,000 known species!

Sea Eagle

The sea eagle tends to mate for life with a single partner

Seahorse

Males give birth to up to 1,000 offspring!

Sheep

Around 35 million in the English countryside!

Shrew

The spinal column of the shrew Scutisorex somereni is so strong and reinforced that it can support the weight of an adult human.

Shrimp

There are 2,000 different species worldwide!

Skink Lizard

Some skinks lay eggs in some habitats while giving birth to skinklets in other habitats.

Sloth

It's body temperature is between 30 - 34 degrees!

Slug

They glide around on one foot, which is aided by the slime they produce

Smokybrown Cockroach

Has up to 45 eggs per egg case

Snail

There are nearly 1,000 different species!

Snake

There are around 3,000 known species worldwide

Snapping Turtle

Only found in North America!

Sparrow

There are 140 different species!

Spider Wasp

They prey on spiders to feed their larvae or they parasitize other spider wasps.

Squirrel

Small rodents found in woodlands worldwide!

Squirrel Monkey

Lives in groups of up to 500 individuals!

Stick Insect

There are more than 3,000 different species!

Stork

They can’t sing like other birds.

Swan

Populations have been affected by pollution!

Tarantula Hawk

Tarantula hawks are excellent pollinators, especially for milkweed.

Termite

Their mounds can be up to 9 meters tall!

Thrush

The American robin is called the robin because its red breast reminded European settlers of the robin back in the old country.

Tick

They inject hosts with a chemical that stops them from feeling the pain of the bite

Tiger Beetle

The adult tiger beetle is one of the fastest land insects in the world

Tortoise

Can live until they are more than 150 years old!

Toucan

There are more than 40 different species!

Tree Frog

Found in warmer jungles and forests!

Tree swallow

The tree swallow can make more than a dozen distinct vocalizations

Turkey

Closely related to pheasants and chickens!

Turtles

Some species of aquatic turtles can get up to 70 percent of their oxygen through their butt.

Umbrellabird

Migrates up and down the mountains!

Vampire Bat

Have a heat sensor on the end of their nose!

Vine Snake

A slender body and elongated snout give the vine snake a regal look.

Vinegaroon

Vinegaroons can spray 19 times before the glands are depleted

Vulture

There are 30 different species worldwide!

Wasp

There are around 75,000 recognised species!

White-Faced Capuchin

One of the world's most intelligent monkeys!

White Ferret / Albino Ferrets

There are two different types of white ferrets!

White-tail deer

White-tail deer are good swimmers

Wolf Spider

Carnivorous arachnid that hunts its prey.

Wood Turtle

Temperature determines the sex of turtle eggs

Woodlouse

This animal can roll up into a ball

Woodpecker

There are 200 different species!

Worm

Doesn’t have eyes.

Yellow Spotted Lizard

Gives birth to live young.

Costa Rican Animals List