Howler monkeys are omnivores

Mammals in Costa Rica

sloth (esp: perezoso)

Out of a total of five species of sloth, two are found in Costa Rica: two-toed and three-toed sloths. Sloths are known for their slow metabolism and leisurely pace. They spend practically their entire lifetime in trees and usually change trees every 2-3 days. We recognize the animals mainly in the "Guarumos" (Cecropia peltata), which seem to feel particularly comfortable in them.

Interesting facts:

Sloths are relatively little researched. So you can't really explain why sloths take the awkward journey to do their business: about once a week they unnecessarily expose themselves to the danger of falling prey to predators and leave the tree. There they need about half an hour to walk into the bushes and - if everything goes well - they then climb the next tree.

Monkeys (esp: mono)

No vacation in Costa Rica would be complete without meeting these close relatives of the people. A hundred years before Charles Darwin developed his theory of the origin of life, the Swede Carl Linnaeus classified humans in the same category as monkeys. In Costa Rica there are those monkeys that are known as “Cebidae”, that is, monkeys of the so-called “New World” (i.e. America). It is typical of these species that they have hairless faces with flat noses and long limbs, as well as tails that aid in climbing.

There are four types of monkey in Costa Rica: Howler monkeys, spider monkeys, squirrel monkeys and white-shouldered capuchins. All of these species are important for the spread of seeds because they consume a large number of different fruits. All monkeys in Costa Rica are endangered, the squirrel monkeys even severe.

Howler monkey

Howler monkeys are the largest monkeys in Costa Rica with a height of 1 m and a weight of 5 kg. They inhabit wetlands of the tropical lowlands. Their name comes from the sonorous roar they emit early in the morning to mark their territory.

In some places (like Tortuguero or Corcovado) you will be awakened by this call. The call of howler monkeys can be carried up to 5 kilometers making it the loudest animal in the jungle. Despite this noise, howler monkeys are usually calm animals that can scurry past you silently and unnoticed. They also rest 80% of the day.

Spider monkey

Spider monkeys use their tail as a fifth handto carry her body while climbing. They rarely get down from the trees because up there they find everything they need to live: leaves, nuts and fruits. Spider monkeys can communicate through unmistakable gestures: When people approach their territory, they climb the end of a branch and shake it vigorously to drive away the intruders. If this doesn't work, you can throw a branch.

Squirrel monkey (Spanish: Mono Titi)

The “Titi” monkeys are tiny monkeys weighing around 600g, especially in the area around the Manuel Antonio National Park are at home. Here in the tropical rainforest, they feed on insects and small plants. However, due to deforestation, the “titi” monkeys are threatened with extinction. Interestingly, squirrel monkeys do not use their tails when climbing, but - like cats - to balance.

White-shouldered Capuchin (Spanish: Mono de Cara Blanca)

This is the easiest type of monkey to come across in Costa Rica. They can be found both in the wet forests of the Caribbean plains and in the drier forests of the Pacific coast. The capuchins are around 50 cm tall and absolutely omnivorous: they devour everything from flowers, fruits, bird eggs and insects to the sandwich that tourists have prepared for lunch. Hordes of capuchins are usually between 2 and 20 in size, with an alpha male in the center.

Be careful with these overactive animals if you encounter them in national parks: They are known to grab anything that is not attached. It can also happen that they become aggressive if you dare to get too close to their territory.

White-shouldered Capuchins are mainly at home in the national parks of Manuel Antonio, Corcovado and Santa Rosa. Unfortunately, the illegal trade in white-shouldered capuchins has increased again in recent years.


These big cats are the undisputed kings of the local tropical forests. Jaguars are very shy and avoid people, so the chance of seeing a wild jaguar is extremely slim. The highest density of jaguars in Costa Rica is found in the Corcovado and La Amistad National Parks - here the protected areas are big enough that you can hunt.

Jaguars can grow to be 2 meters long, 1 meter high and weigh over 100 kg. They are the largest cats on the American continent. They usually hunt at night because they have excellent eyesight. Their prey consists of 87 specieswhich include birds, wild boars, iguanas, monkeys, sloths and even caimans! Jaguars are loners who ambush their victims in the bush. Their hunting territory is usually around 30-40 square kilometers.

Jaguars are endangered animals and their habitat in Costa Rica has tragically been destroyed by deforestation of the rainforests. Because jaguars require huge hunting areas, it is extremely important that protection corridors be built between the country's various national parks to increase the available living space.

Interesting facts:

The jaguar is a so-called “umbrella species”: The habitat they need is so large that a large number of other animals are automatically protected in protected areas for jaguars. This is the main reason why jaguars are often the focus of conservation efforts. Not because they are the kings of the American jungle, but because protecting jaguars automatically means protecting an entire ecosystem.

ocelot (Spanish: Ocelote)

Ocelots are medium-sized big cats; With a length of one meter and a weight of 10-15 kg, they are about the size of a dog. You belong to Genus of leopards and are at home all over Central and South America. Ocelots are nocturnal and hunt in a large area of ​​around 18 square kilometers. Their prey consists of reptiles, amphibians and small mammals. In Costa Rica, ocelots are most likely to be found in the national parks of Corcovado, Santa Rosa, Monteverde, and the Los Santos area - but they are very difficult to find.

Coati (Spanish: Pizote)

Coatis are a tropical species of Raccoons with a red-brown fur, dark faces and long tails. These are sociable animals active during the day and not shy - the chance that you will meet coatis in Costa Rica is therefore quite high. Coatis mainly feed on small vertebrates such as mice and lizards, as well as fruits and insects. When fed by humans, they become tame. Especially the road around the Arenal Sea is often besieged by begging coatiseasy to recognize by their large noses and bushy tails. Please do not feed them anyway!

racoon (Spanish: Mapache)

Raccoons (average size 40 cm) can easily be recognized by their “predator masks” - the black fur around their eyes. you are nocturnal omnivoresthat feed on fruits and any small animals that can fit in their mouths. Although they have very nimble hands, legend has it that they don't wash their hands before eating. Rather, this activity comes from moistening pieces of food with water so that they are easier to eat.


Tapirs, like rhinos and horses, belong to the order of Odd-toed ungulates (Perissodactyla). Your Resemblance to horses can also be seen in the elongated snouts. The Central American tapir is about 2 meters long and can weigh up to 300 kg. This makes it the largest mammal in Central America. The herbivores feed mainly on fruits, grass, leaves and twigs. Tapirs are solitary animals and can live to be 25-30 years old.

Tapirs are most likely to be found near streams and swampsas they like to be near water and are good swimmers. You can even sink to the bottom of a river bed and hike up grazing it!

Interesting facts:

After the tapir was once at home in numerous areas of Costa Rica, it almost died out a few years ago. As many swamps, wooded hills and rainforests disappeared, the tapirs' habitat was dangerously reduced. Today the tapir population has recovered best in Corcovado and Tenorio National Parks. However, in order for the population of this endangered species to continue to recover, it is essential Biological corridors be erected. In the meantime, the “Path of the Tapir” corridor has been built, which connects the protected areas of Los Santos, Chirripo, Corcovado and other areas. This is an important initiative (launched in 1994 by committed private actors) to protect animals and was the world's first tapir conservation program.

Tapirs have become an important symbol for the protection of forests, as they are particularly comfortable in primary forests (i.e. forests that have never been cut down).

One tapir mother is known to like to be in the area around the Sirena ranger station Corcovado National Park halts; here she can often be seen resting in the shade of a tree during the day.

Umbilical pig / peccary (Spanish: Pecari)

Umbilical pigs belong - like pigs, giraffes, buffaloes and cows - to the order of the ungulates (Artiodactyla), with an even number of toes on the feet. In fact, they are also very similar to the wild boar in that they have coarse fur, small ears, a short tail, and tusks. They dig up the earth with their long snouts and feed on windfalls, leaves and grass. There are two types of umbilical pigs in Costa Rica, which are mostly on the move in groups (groups): that Weissbartpekari and the Collared peccary.

Despite their reputation for being aggressive animals, peccaries are rarely a threat to humans. With their sharp tusks, they can certainly cause injuries. But since they see very poorly, you can withdraw unnoticed if you keep quiet when you meet them.

armadillo (Spanish: Armadillo)

Armadillos are easy to recognize by their shell made of horn and bone plates. Armadillos are approximately 50 cm tall solitary animals that are seldom seen because they are nocturnal are. Your The main diet consists of ants, termites and other insectsthat they dig up with their sharp claws. Thanks to her good sense of smell you can find the prey up to 20 cm below the ground.

bat (Spanish: Murciélago)

Because of their nocturnal activity and orientation through a sonar system, bats have a strong fascination with humans. Bats come in a variety of sizes between 5-80 cm and a weight of 5g to 200g. During the day, bats can be found in their roostswhich are mostly caves, hollow trees, or the shady side of trees. At night, bats are usually out to eat. Your The main food is insectsthat they catch directly with their mouths or scoop up with their wings. Some bats are vegetarians, the mean vampire however, feeds on blood! Vampires press their sharp teeth into the throats of sleeping animals, tear off a tiny piece of skin and lick the blood off. Thanks to the high nutritional value, they only need around 15ml of blood per day.

Bats that feed on nectar are important pollinators for plants (such as bees and birds). Flowers, the pollen of which is mainly spread by bats, are mostly white and open at night so that they can be recognized more easily.

At night, bats navigate with an echo sounder sonar: They send out countless ultrasonic waves and scan the environment in a split second for recurring echoes.

Interesting facts:

Bats are among the mammals with the greatest biodiversity, there are over 950 different species worldwide. In Costa Rica they are the undisputed front runners among mammals: Out of 200 mammal species, 105 are bat species.

Opossum / Opossum (Spanish: Zarigüeya)

Opossum rats are so named because they are very similar to rats with their pointed noses and hairless tails; but they do not belong to the same family (i.e. subclass). Opossi are most likely to be seen at night when they are out hunting. These omnivores eat everything they come across and fit in their mouths. Since they also like to eat carrion, they are often killed on the street while eating carcasses killed by cars.

Interesting facts:

Opossum rats are so-called Marsupials: They give birth to their young just 15 days after mating. So the kids are almost still Embroyswhen they are born and then remain in their mother's pouch, where they are suckled for another 2 months. Kangaroos reproduce this way too.

Opossi have special ones Immune systems that make them invulnerable to a wide variety of snakebites. This makes them immune to bites from rattlesnakes and pit vipers.

Paka / agouti

Pakas and agoutis are rodentsas shown by their sharp incisors, which they can use to cut a wide variety of materials. The animals are principally vegetarians who feed mainly on fruits, seeds and nuts, but sometimes also add insects to their diet in order to get more protein. From the ecosystem, the presence of pakas and agoutis is especially important for jaguars, in whose diet they occupy an important place.

deer (Spanish: Venado)

Deer are large mammals that are native to many parts of the world. These ruminants feed on grass and inhabit mostly forest areas. Although many travelers are amazed to find this animal in Costa Rica, it can often be seen grazing on the edges of forests.