When you embark on day trips from San Jose, Costa Rica, there is always the possibility that you will encounter, or at least see from a distance, some of the local native fauna, particularly as you move further out of the cities and off the beaten track.

Costa Rica is home to a wide array of beautiful native animals. As a small rainforest nation nestled between two oceans and two continents, Costa Rica in many ways creates a land bridge and it is bursting with what represents some of the world’s most diverse wildlife. Costa Rica is home to half a million different species of plants, insects, and animals.

Some of the exotic animals that call Costa Rica home include:

  • Wild Cats – these endangered felines are very secretive and it’s rare to see any of them – but they are there! Costa Rica is home to six wild feline species: Jaguar, Puma, Ocelot, Oncilla, Margay, and Jaguarundi. While some can be seen in rescue sanctuaries, most live in the Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica’s far southwest.
  • Sloth – there are two species of sloth in Costa Rica; the Two-Toed Sloth (nocturnal) and the Three-Toed Sloth (out during the day). They live high up in the trees and will rustle the jungle canopy. Curious, and very slow, they are in fact, great
  • Coati – related to the racoon, the Coati (or Coatimundi) has a long nose and is found in the Americas from Southern Arizona to Northern Argentina. They have sharp teeth, strong jaws, and while not easy to provoke, they will put up a fierce fight and they are omnivorous. A very social animal and one of those you are most likely to encounter.
  • Monkeys – four species of monkey live in Costa Rica – the Mantled Howler, the White-Faced Capuchin, the Spider Monkey and the Squirrel Monkey. They live and travel in troops and are mostly found coastally, especially on the Pacific coast’s Osa Peninsula and in the Manuel Antonio National Park. Don’t feed them!
  • Bats – Costa Rica is among just a few countries worldwide where there are more bats than rodents. They feed on insects, nectar and even fish and are active at night. The cutest of these is the Honduran White Bat, which resembles a tiny flying ball of white fluff.
  • Chestnut-Mandibled Toucan – one of six species of toucan in Costa Rica, this very large bird is a favorite among tourists. It is the biggest Central American toucan (found between Eastern Honduras and Northern Colombia) and eats fruit by preference, though it will also feed on insects and small snakes. See it best in the Caribbean wet forest lowlands and along the Pacific Cordillera de Talamanca to Carara.

These are just a small handful of the many, many animals and birds to be found in Costa Rica – and we’ve not yet even mentioned insect life in the country! There are also sea turtles, whales, tapirs, peccaries, and reptiles including the Green Iguana and American Crocodile, frogs, and a vast array of colorful birds (more on those another time).  So when you are out and about on day trips from San Jose, Costa Rica, keep your eyes and ears open for the sights and sounds of these most precious national treasures!