A Guide to the Wildlife of the Guanacaste Region


It’s no secret that Costa Rica is a global leader in wild life conservation. Chances are that when you’re visiting us here in Tamarindo, you might encounter some wildlife. Whether you’re road tripping up the coast hunting waves, crossing the river to Playa Grande, or taking one of the awe inspiring rain forest tours here in Costa Rica, you might see some wild life that is unfamiliar to you. We at WRSC want you to be knowledgeable of all the critters we’ve got roaming around Costa Rica, so we’ve compiled a list of seven species, (along with their Spanish names,) you may encounter during your travels in Costa Rica.

1. Green Iguanas/Black Garrobos (Iguana Verde/Garrobo Negro)

These guys are everywhere, from the rainforest, to the streets, and even the front porch of many WRSC rooms. Green Iguanas are the largest lizard species in all of Costa Rica, some adults measure up to 6 feet long, while the Black Iguana can measure just over 4 feet long. These guys may be large, but they are harmless. They are typically found either in trees or in rocky environments where they can hide.

2. Caiman & Crocodiles (Caimán y Cocodrilos)

These reptiles are common in most river ways, swamps, and wetlands in Costa Rica. The Caiman are a common site on river tours, often mistaken for floating logs until they blink their eye. While Caiman may look like their cousins the American Crocodile, they are much smaller and therefore less dangerous.

American Crocodiles on the other hand, can reach up to 16 feet in length and should be observed and appreciated from a safe distance.

3. Spider Monkey (Mono Aranas)

These guys might take the cake for the cutest animal in Costa Rica, sadly they are also endangered. The Spider Monkey is a small monkey with an powerful tale. It is the most agile monkey in all of Costa Rica. There are about 4 or 5 different species of Spider Monkey, but the most common in the species in Costa Rica is the Black-Handed Spider Monkey. These guys can be found in the highly forested areas of Costa Rica.

4. Howler Monkey (Mono Aullador or Los Congos)

Named for their distinct throaty Howls, Howler Monkeys are considered the loudest land animals in the world! Their howls can be heard for up to 3 miles, so chances are if you don’t see one, you might hear one. Like the Spider Monkey, these guys can be found in the rain forests, cloud forests, and tropical dry forests.

5. Sloths (Perezosos)

Arguably, sloths are the most coveted species in Costa Rica. Everyone who steps foot in the Costa Rican rainforests hopes to catch a glimpse of a sloth. Costa Rica is home to two sloth species, the larger Two-Toed Sloth and the Brown-Throated Three Toed Sloth. Sloths spend the majority of their lives upside down and move very little distance throughout their entire life. They can be spotted hanging in the trees of the rainforests and cloud forests in Costa Rica.

6. Coati-Mundi (Pizote)

Migrating down from the mountains, pizotes have made their way into the urban landscapes of Costa Rica’s Central Valley. Once welcomed by residents and tourists in the area, the too-cute creatures are now causing problems for business owners and flooding SINAC offices with complaints! They are coming for your food, for your pet’s food and for your garbage. With their lovely little turned-up noses, bushy tails and adorable squeaking sounds, you’ll want to take one home…but DON’T!

7. Large Grasshopper (Langosta)

The langosta is not your typical grasshopper, though, it looks quite similar in shape. With its gorgeous bright colors and ripe red boots, langostas range around 5 to 6 inches in length and look like small birds while fluttering their 18-inch wings in flight. These beautiful insects are night creatures, so it’s actually pretty rare to see them during the day. They mostly eat banana leaves and don’t bite, however, they do have sharp, tiny claws. If one ever lands on you, while in Costa Rica, gently and slowly pick it up and place it on a nearby plant.


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