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What Animals Can you See in Costa Rica?

Updated: Oct 5, 2021

Costa Rica is renowned for being one of the most biologically diverse places on earth. It is home to some incredible animals and is the perfect place for wildlife photography, but what species can you find here? Well here’s just a few...


There are four species of monkey that can be found in Costa Rica. White faced capuchins, squirrel, spider and howler monkeys.

You have decent chance of spotting all four whilst in Cost Rica if you spend some time in the right places. The capuchins and squirrel monkeys are probably my favourite to photograph because of their beautiful expressive faces.

Spider monkeys are also a great subject but sadly they are less common then they used to be due to deforestation. They can still however be spotted fairly regularly in Corcovado and surrounding areas.

When it comes to the howlers you will definitely hear them before you see them, they are a great alarm clock. Despite this they tend to sleep a lot so when you do spot one it will probably be laying up on a branch somewhere.


Sloths are probably what the majority of people are most excited to see when they visit Costa Rica. There are two species found here the two-toed and the three-toed. The three toed sloth has black markings around its eyes, a grey coat and a permanent smile where as the two toed has a light brown/blonde coat and pink pig like nose. Both are just as cute as one another.

Sloths are plentiful in Costa Rica but not always so easy to spot, this because of how little and slowly they move. The best advice I can give you is to look for brown/grey blobs in trees and always look twice. A nature guide can also be really helpful they are incredible at spotting.

Frogs, Lizards and Crocs

Probably the most recognisable animal of Costa Rica, even more so than the sloth is the red-eyed tree frog. A beautiful creature with bulging red eyes and a luminous green body beautifully detailed with blue, yellow and orange. This striking species is just one of the many incredible cold blooded creatures Costa Rica has to offer. If reptiles and amphibians are your thing then it’s probably the best place on earth.

There are so many species of frogs, lizards and snakes to spot as well as the largest of them all, the American crocodile. To see frogs and snakes you should take a night walk, you will be astounded at how many species you can spot within just an hour or two.

For a unique birds eye view of dozens of American crocodiles make sure to head to Tarcoles bridge. Corcovado is also a good place to spot them by the waters edge, that’s where I took the photo below (just don’t get too close)

Another interesting animal to look out for is the common basilisk also know as the Jesus Christ lizard. Given their name because they run up right on two legs across the top of the water. It’s quite a sight.


Like most of the wildlife found in Costa Rica the birds that reside here are beautifully unique and brightly coloured. Many gardens are dotted with glistening humming birds, while Scarlett macaws fly over head. A sight that will fill you with joy every time no matter how many times you see it.

Probably the most wonderfully weird of all the birds in Costa Rica is the toucan. There are six species that resemble the unmistakable toucan shape here, although two are toucanets and two are aracaris make no mistake all are brightly coloured and beautiful.

From the pastille shades of the keel-billed toucan to the vibrant glow of the fiery billed aracari all will be at the top of most bird watchers lists. Another couple of species to look out for are the black and turkey vultures (they are everywhere) not as colourful as the others I have mentioned but still fascinating nonetheless.

There is a type of vulture however that is just as colourful and vibrant as any bird on earth. The king vulture. It’s bright orange and red colours make it somewhat more photogenic then the other two species I mentioned above. Unfortunately it’s a lot less of a common sight.

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