Costa Rican Mammals...
Animals of the Rich Coast


Along with some of the well-known Costa Rican mammals... - cats like jaguars, ocelots and pumas... and monkeys such as black-handed spiders, mantled howlers, and white-headed capuchins...

There are quite a few other mammalian species, residing here on the Rich Coast.

Ones that come to mind?

Well, there's Baird's tapir - largest animal in the country, somewhat resembling a small rhinoceros... coatimundis - animals that look a bit like raccoons...

And sloths too - while at first glance, do look similar to primates...

Costa Rican Mammals
Costa Rican Mammals - A Baby Brown-Throated Three-Toed Sloth

Are actually related to anteaters!

Did you know?

The southern peninsula of Costa Rica - site of the Corcovado National Park, most biologically diverse place on Earth - was given the name "Osa" (masculine - "Oso") - that while translating directly to English as "bear"...

Is the name, anteaters are called by in Spanish.

...

And so...

Costa Rican mammals inhabiting more than 12 different climate zones, on a bridge at the center of the world...

Please read on to learn more!







Baird's Tapir

Danta   |   Tapirus bairdii

First time seeing a tapir in the wild - largest of all Costa Rican mammals - was during a trek near the Sirena Biological Station - in the Corcovado National Park, on the Osa Peninsula.

Primarily nocturnal, it was actually during the day when we encountered the animal - resting not too far from water.

Baird's Tapir
We Saw This Tapir at Sirena Biological Station

At first glance...

Tapirs sort of resemble large pigs, with the miniature snout of an elephant.

Unlike pigs however, they have toes instead of cloven hooves - making them taxonomically closer to rhinos...

And helping to support their immense weight.

And yes...

We're talking upwards of 800 pounds, for a full-grown adult - an attribute giving them quite the advantage underwater, as they can sink quite quickly - and remain out of site while walking along the bottom of a river.

Oh, and baby tapirs - marked by a pattern of white spots and stripes, feel quite at home in the water. They can already swim, at only 3 weeks old.

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Fun Fact: Tapirs are related to rhinoceros and horses.





Brown-Throated Three-Toed Sloth

Perezoso de Tres Dedos   |   Bradypus variegatus

Interesting to know...

Brown-Throated Three-Toed Sloth
Baby sloth at the Jaguar Rescue Center

Three-toed sloths - while difficult to spot in the wild (they're usually just chilling, at the top of their favorite tree, and are also very well camouflaged)...

Are actually one of the more abundant Costa Rican mammals.

And yes, while it's rare to see a sloth, strolling (actually crawling) around the jungle floor...

They do take breaks every so often - climbing down to relieve themselves...

Or even for a dip in a nearby river - using their claws to help them swim.

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Fun Fact: Three-toed sloths, don't have toes! Nope - they're actually just really long fingernails, ones that help them to grab hold of tree branches.





Northern Tamandua Anteater

Oso Hormiguero   |   Tamandua mexicana

Easily one of the most memorable experiences in Costa Rica, was walking along a path in the Cabo Blanco Absolute Reserve - very southern tip of the Nicoya Peninsula.

Northern Tamandua Anteater
This is the Tamandua, from Cabo Blanco

Sitting atop a rotted log - a mammal easy to identify with its trademark black vest fur pattern...

Was a Northern Tamandua Anteater, gorging on termites with its long, bristly-haired tongue.

Impervious to my presence - it was neat being able to observe the animal so close...

And especially out in the wild.

At one point - after following the anteater further into the jungle - it used its sharp claws (similar to a sloth's) to rip open a giant termite nest in a tree - and kept right on snacking away.

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Fun Fact: Northern Tamandua Anteaters have mouths the size of a pencil eraser. Also, because they have no teeth -these mammals grouped together scientifically, with armadillos and sloths.





White-Nosed Coatimundi

Pizote   |   Nasua narica

White-nosed coatis, are just so darn cute!

And unlike most of the other species of Costa Rican mammals - they're really easy to observe in the wild, often traveling in large groups - as was the case on a first-time encounter...

White-Nosed Coatimundi
A Coati we Spotted, at San Pedrillo Station

Right along the side of the road, near the base of the Arenal Volcano.

Another memorable experience - was watching a troop of these raccoon lookalikes...

Foraging for crabs in the middle of the afternoon (they're diurnal, unlike raccoons), just north of Carate on the Osa.

And while doing so, it was funny to imagine...

That these adult coatis - very much like humans, will "hire" babysitters to look after their young, while away.

Something else neat about coatimundis - is their excellent balance. Climbing trees, they use their tail like a balancing pole, helping them move seemingly effortlessly - through the canopy.

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Fun Fact: When it comes to choosing a mate, male coatis don't waste any time. They simply walk right up to a female - and begin grooming her, right then and there... making her look as beautiful as possible.