Animals in Nicaragua

Updated: May 17, 2021
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Below you can find a complete list of Nicaraguan animals. We currently track 250 animals in Nicaragua and are adding more every day!

Nicaragua is the largest country in all of Central America. Situated between the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, the country shares a land border with Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The western half of the country is comprised of rugged mountains and volcanoes separated by large valleys. Some of these volcanoes are still active. The eastern half of the country is comprised of lowland plains and rainforests. Lake Nicaragua, which sits along the southwestern border, is the largest lake in all of Central America. Its unique fauna even includes sawfish and bull sharks. Nicaragua is also home to the region’s longest river, Rio Coco, which runs between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans on the northern border.

The Official National (State) Animal of Nicaragua

While Nicaragua lacks a single national animal, it is represented by a national bird, the turquoise-browed motmot. Sporting a brightly colored turquoise body, this bird is a dazzling sight throughout the country.

Where to Find the Top Wild Animals in Nicaragua

Since its independence in 1821, Nicaragua has established around 78 protected areas, encompassing about 17% of the entire landmass, in which you can find some of the best wildlife.

  • The Zapatera Archipelago National Park near Lake Nicaragua is a common destination for both cultural and wildlife enthusiasts. Amid some of the preserved ruins and crater lakes, this park has plenty of winding hiking trails and visitor areas, where you can find a rich panoply of birds, mammals, and freshwater fish.
  • The Mombacho Cloud Forest Reserve is a 2,500-acre protected area surrounding the extinct volcano Mombacho to the west of Lake Nicaragua. Plenty of colorful birds, butterflies, and reptiles flourish at these high elevations.
  • The Indio Maiz Biological Reserve in the southeast straddles the mighty San Juan River. Although remote and somewhat difficult to reach, it is exceptionally rich in poison dart frogs, howler monkeys, and maybe even pumas and jaguars. The rest of the reserve contains hundreds of colorful birds like the royal flycatcher.
  • Finally, San Juan del Sur, located in the southwest of the country, is an excellent spot to observe whales and other marine wildlife.

The Most Dangerous Animals in Nicaragua Today

The rainforests of Nicaragua are particularly rife with dangerous animals, including insects that transmit diseases to humans. But these are probably the most dangerous species that pose a direct problem for humans:

  • Fer-de-Lance – Identified by the dark triangle patterns and broad, flattened head, this large species is one of the more dangerous snakes in all of Central America. Symptoms of its venom include pain, swelling, bruising, blisters, numbness, a headache, a mild fever, nausea, vomiting, oozing, and bleeding. If left untreated, death may occur in a small minority of incidents.
  • Central American Rattlesnake – This species is in many ways similar to the rattlesnake in the United States. Symptoms of its venom include pain, swelling, blistering, and necrosis. In rare cases, it can lead to amputations.
  • Coral Snakes – Nicaragua is home to three species of coral snakes, as well as the yellow-bellied sea snake. Their venom is one of the most potent in the world and requires immediate medical attention. In rare cases, it can lead to complete respiratory failure. Fortunately, these exotic snakes live in remote locations, and even when they are encountered by people, their first instinct is to run away and hide.
  • American Crocodiles – This species can be found throughout the San Juan River and Lake Nicaragua. While attacks sometimes do occur, fatalities are exceptionally rare.
  • Poison Dart Frog – Concentrated in the south of Nicaragua, there are a few unique species of poison dart frogs that advertise their danger with bright eccentric colors. When threatened, they secrete enough poison from the skin to stop someone’s heart. They appear to derive their poison from the foods they consume.

Endangered Animals in Nicaragua

Some of Nicaragua’s rich biodiversity is currently in danger of becoming extinct from rampant deforestation and poaching.

  • Geoffroy’s Spider Monkey – Easily identified by the reddish-brown body color and the black arms, legs, and face, this is perhaps the largest of all the unique monkeys in the Americas. Since it requires so much living space to survive, it is particularly vulnerable to deforestation.
  • Baird’s Tapir – The tapir is a large exotic pig-like mammal with a short prehensile nose trunk and hooves. This species is in danger of becoming extinct from poaching and habitat loss, but it also isn’t helped by a slow reproduction rate.
  • White-lipped Peccary – This large pig-like hoofed mammal is currently endangered from deforestation and hunting.
  • Great Green Macaw – This large, bright-green gregarious macaw once teemed across the rainforests of Central America. But hunting, poaching, and habitat loss have placed this species in danger of becoming extinct.
  • Sea Turtles – Nicaragua is a prime nesting location for the hawksbill sea turtle, leatherback sea turtle, loggerhead sea turtle, olive ridley sea turtle, and the Pacific green turtle. All of them are currently classified as vulnerable or endangered due to the loss of nesting sites, vessel strikes, pollution, intended or accidental catches, etc.

Nicaraguan Animals

Acadian Flycatcher

Their nests are sloppily held together and have an abandoned appearance

Amazon Parrot

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

American Eel

Don't eat raw eel! Their blood is poisonous to humans when consumed raw.

Anhinga

Their name means snake bird

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.

Blue Tanager (Blue-Grey Tanager)

They travel and forage in pairs or groups

Bobcat

About double the size of a domestic cat!

Booby

Seabirds found across the South Pacific!

Brazilian Treehopper

“Mild-Mannered Minimonsters”

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!

Cedar Waxwing

Their feathers have red, waxy tips that can be hard to identify unless you’re up close.

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!

Chestnut-Sided Warbler

They inhabit regrowing forests

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

Dusky Shark

The Dusky Shark sometimes eats trash discarded by humans.

Dwarf Boa

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

Eagle

Has exceptional eyesight!

Earthworm

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

Earwig

There are nearly 2,000 different species!

Eastern Meadowlark

They can live up to 9 years.

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!

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.

Glow Worm

Found inhabiting dense woodland and caves!

Gnat

Males form large mating swarms at dusk

Grasshopper

There are 11,000 known species!

Gray Catbird

Their songs have cat-like qualities and can mimic other birds and animals, like tree frogs.

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

Great Potoo Bird

At night, they make a terrifying low call that sounds like a distressed moan or growl.

Guppy

Also known as the Millionfish!

Gypsy Moth

One of the most invasive species in the world

Hairy Woodpecker

They are natural pest controls

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.

Hepatic Tanager (Red Tanager)

Parents and their young sing sweetly to each other

Hercules Beetle

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

Heron

Inhabits wetlands around the world!

Herring Gull

They are loud, spirited birds with raucous cries that sound like bursts of laughter.

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!

Jabiru

They form lifelong pair bonds and live in groups near water sources.

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

Magnolia Warbler

They line their nests with fungi strands

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!

Muscovy Duck

Unlike most duck species, the Muscovy is silent and only makes noise when excited or threatened.

No See Ums

There are more than 5,000 species.

Northern Harrier

They can reach speeds of 25 Mph but prefer to soar low and slow.

Northern Parula

They live in coffee and citrus plantations during the winter

Northern Potoo

You can find them near golf courses in urban areas

Ocelot

Also known as the Painted Leopard!

Orb Weaver

Females are about four times the size of males

Osprey

They reuse nesting sites for 70 years!

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!

Parrot Snake

The parrot snake shows off with bright green and bronze colors that cover its entire body.

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.

Pit Viper

Pit vipers's fangs fold up into their mouths when they don't need them.

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!

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!

Roadrunner

Roadrunners are one of the few animals that prey on rattlesnakes and tarantula hawk wasps.

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!

Sharp-Shinned Hawk

In captivity, sharp-shinned hawks can live up to 13 years. However, in the wild, this number is significantly reduced to 3 years!

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!

Stick Insect

There are more than 3,000 different species!

Stork

They can’t sing like other birds.

Swainson’s Hawk

Their wings form a “V” shape when flying.

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!

Upland Sandpiper

They make jerky movements as they walk through the grass, searching for food.

Vampire Bat

Have a heat sensor on the end of their nose!

Vermilion Flycatcher

They have a fast song that lasts up to 10 syllables at max.

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!

Western Tanager

They migrate farther north than any other tanager.

Whiptail Lizard

Many whiptail species reproduce asexually.

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

Whitetail Deer

Although deer are herbivores, they will sometimes eat mice and birds when they can catch them.

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 Bellied Sapsucker

The males are responsible for choosing the nesting tree most of the time. Luckily, cavity nests are often reused for multiple breeding seasons (up to 7 years.)

Yellow Spotted Lizard

Gives birth to live young.

Yellowthroat

They forage near the ground, searching leaves for insects

Zebra Tarantula

They can stay hidden in their burrows for months!

Nicaraguan Animals List

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About the Author

AZ Animals is a growing team of animals experts, researchers, farmers, conservationists, writers, editors, and -- of course -- pet owners who have come together to help you better understand the animal kingdom and how we interact.

Animals in Nicaragua FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What animals live in Nicaragua?

Nicaragua is home to more than a hundred species of mammals, including opossums, rodents, sloths, anteaters, deer, large cats (like ocelots and margays), and perhaps most common of all, bats. There are only a few species of monkeys, but they’re very conspicuous and easy to identify. The country also teems with 700 species of birds, including eagles, macaws, pelicans, and egrets. And it’s particularly rich in turtles, snakes, lizards, insects, and freshwater fish.

What dangerous animals live in Nicaragua?

Nicaragua is home to about 15 exotic species of venomous snakes, as well as scorpions, spiders, poison dart frogs, and large crocodiles, and carnivorous mammals.

Are there any jaguars in Nicaragua?

Yes, jaguars are found in the country’s eastern rainforests. Although they look intimidating, jaguars are the least likely of all big cats to attack humans.