La faune et la flore du Costa Rica


10,000 plant species, 1,400 orchid species, 15,000 butterfly species, 870 bird species, 231 mammal species, 220 reptile species, 160 amphibian species, 34,000 insect species, 1,600 fish species. Some parks and reserves are must-sees for wildlife observation, such as Tortuguero, Palo Verde, Monteverde, Chirripo, La Amistad and, of course, the famous Corcovado. In most cases, you’ll need a guide to visit them, and depending on the length of your stay and your interests, we’ll adapt your tour. Combining a policy of active nature conservation since the 60s with development that combines ecology and economy, Costa Rica is without doubt unique in the world.

Almost 30% of the territory is protected: 27 national parks, 9 ecological reserves, 30 national wildlife reserves, 12 forest reserves, not to mention the many private reserves. Ecotourism has become the country’s primary resource, and during your stay you’ll discover this green paradise, home to an incredible diversity of biotopes. While some countries are prized for their culture, monuments or architecture, Costa Rica is sought after for its living world and wildlife, and you’ll get a real biology lesson on the spot.



Costa Rica boasts no less than 915 bird species, including 3 endemic species and 93 endemics shared with neighboring Panama, making it the world’s highest concentration of bird diversity and fauna. Endemic species include the Copper-headed Hummingbird and Boucard’s Hummingbird.

The resplendent quetzal can be seen mainly around San Gerardo de Dota and Monteverde, while scarlet macaws are numerous around Tarcoles, Golfo Dulce, Puerto Jimenez and Carate, south of Corcovado. Tanagers can be found all over the country, and oropendolas, those strange birds with colorful beaks, enjoy almost any climate.

Many migratory species stop over in wetlands in the north of the country, such as Boca Tapada and Palo Verde National Park.

> Official bird list of Costa Rica


231 species of mammals have been recorded throughout Costa Rica. 4 primate species (capuchin monkey, howler monkey, squirrel monkey and spider monkey), armadillos, opossums, porcupines, 2 species of sloth, coyotes, foxes, peccaries, deer, daguets, martens, otters, grisons, skunks, tapirs, anteaters, kinkajous, 109 species of bats, 6 species of felines including jaguars, pumas, margays and ocelots are all part of this impressive sampling on land.

On the sea side, no less than 3 species of whales and 5 species of dolphins and manatees enjoy Costa Rica’s rich, mild waters.

> List of Costa Rican mammals – Non-exhaustive


Costa Rica’s fauna would be sad without all its tree frogs and toads (112 species), glass frogs (13 species), dendrobates (8 species), salamanders (40 species), Gymnophiona (7 species), are the amphibian families common to Costa Rica. Most Costa Rican frogs are rather small – 2 to 3 cm – although some can reach 15 cm.

Some are poisonous and can discharge a venom that blocks neuromuscular activity. However, the poison must penetrate in quantity through the mucous membranes (mouth, nose…). Touching a frog of this type is not dangerous unless you have an open wound. Visitors can also discover Rhinophrynus Dorsales, the endemic harlequin frog, one of the many species threatened by climate change.
Amphibians are particularly sensitive to micro-environmental changes and are extremely vulnerable to changes in natural habitats. The golden toad of the Monteverde cloud forest is a case in point, as it is now considered extinct. More than 20 other species are also threatened.


Over 220 species of reptiles have been identified throughout the territory, the most common species being lizards, basilisks, boas (6 species), colubrids, caimans, crocodiles, geckos, iguanas and ctenonotus.
There are 138 species of snakes, including 9 highly venomous and 18 venomous, but they are difficult to spot and a guide is recommended to flush them out.

The green iguana takes on an orange color to seduce the female when it seeks to mate between November and January. Another miniature dinosaur is the Common Basilisk or Jesus Christ lizard. It owes its name to the fact that it can run on water at speeds of up to 8.5 km/hour over distances of 15 to 20 m. On land, it can reach speeds of up to 11 km/hour. It can remain underwater for more than 1/2 hour.

> List of reptiles in Costa Rica – Non-exhaustive

Insects and arachnids

Of the estimated 10,000 insects, butterflies are the most abundant: 1/4 of the world’s butterflies are found in Costa Rica, but this figure is only an estimate, as over 100 new species are discovered in the country every year.

You’ll also easily spot winged fauna such as beetles, grasshoppers, dragonflies, bees and, of course, mosquitoes.

Among the best-known spiders are tarantulas (3 species) and Nephilas, and some 8 species of scorpion are present in the territory.

Aquatic fauna

It’s undoubtedly for its turtles that many tourists make the trip to Costa Rica, as 5 of the world’s 7 identified species have chosen the Costa Rican coast to reproduce: the Leatherback, Green, Hawksbill, Ridley and Hawksbill turtles come here every year to lay their eggs.

Marine fauna such as dolphins, otters, coral, lobsters and multicolored fish are also part of the underwater scenery, and finally, northern and southern whales come together twice a year to give birth to their young and raise them for a few months before their great voyage. The best observation sites are the Marino Ballena Park and Golfo Dulce, where they stay for several months to raise their calves after birth.

> Turtle nesting



Costa Rica is home to some 1,300 species of trees, some of which are spectacular, the tallest of which, a Ceibo (a type of oak), can reach 70 m in height. The Guanacaste – the national tree – with its umbrella-like foliage, the Corteza Amarilla with its yellow blossoms, the flamboyant, the strangler fig, the rosewood, the jaracanda, the false carob tree and the eucalyptus are the most photogenic, and many species produce precious tropical woods, while others are protected.

> Trees of Costa Rica

Plants and flowers

Costa Rica’s natural wealth makes it easy to observe over 100 different species of heliconias, bromeliads, Poinsettia, Asclepias, Euphorbias, passifloras, anthuriums, Petras Volubilis, banana trees, cuckoo clocks, red ginger, agapanthus, ferns and numerous species of palm trees.

There are also around 1,500 species of orchid nestling in the trees, of which the Guaria Morada is the best known, as it is the national flower. The country has a long tradition of ornamental plant production, with many crops grown for export.

Added to this are the many coffee, pineapple and cocoa crops that make up the country’s second-largest economy.