Native Mammals Of Costa Rica

On land, through the air, in the trees, and underwater, the "Rich Coast" country is rich in mammalian life.

Costa Rica is home to diverse plant and animal life. The country contains 5% of word’s biodiversity. Costa Rica has the largest protected area in the world with 25% of its land considered a protected national park and protected area. Corcovado National Park is internationally known for its biodiversity including big cats and abundant wildlife. The country is home to over 320 species of bird, several species of reptiles, 2000 species of plants, and over 100 species of mammals. More than half of the mammal species in Costa Rica are nocturnal. Some of the native mammals in the country include;

West Indian Manatee

West Indian Manatee, scientifically called Trichechus manatus, is the largest surviving aquatic mammal of the order Sirenia. Commonly referred to as the sea cow, West Indian Manatee is subdivided into Florida manatee and Caribbean manatee, both of which are endangered. West Indian Manatee lives entirely in water and has no hind limbs. Its seal-shaped body has a pelage cover which helps reduce the growth of algae on their thick skin. West Indian Manatee also has a paddle-shaped tail which aids its movement in the water. Despite the body size, West Indian Manatee is agile in water and moves smoothly. It spends about 5 to 8 hours during the day eating mainly the aquatic plants. West Indian Manatee is currently protected under the Marine Mammals Protection Act while a collision with boats remains one of their main threats.

Derby’s Woolly Opossum

Derby’s Woolly Opossum, scientifically called Caluromys derbianus, is a type of Opossum found around deciduous or moist evergreen forests. It is the largest in its genus with an average length of 65 cm and weighs 200 to 400 grams. Derby’s Woolly Opossum is characterized by white to pink ears, golden brown underside, colored limbs, brown colored coat, and a prehensile tail which helps it in climbing objects. Derby’s Woolly Opossum is a nocturnal mammal and spends its day in a nest. Its diet comprises of fruits, nectar, and small invertebrates and vertebrates. Derby’s Woolly Opossum uses its forepaws to clean its face after eating. The mammal species becomes sexually active by seven to nine months while the estrus cycle takes 28 days. The male pursues the female before copulation can take place. Derby’s Woolly Opossum gives birth to between one to six litters.

Nine-Banded Armadillo

Nine-banded Armadillo, scientifically called Dasypus novemcinctus, is mostly found in Central, North, and South America. Nine-banded Armadillo is a solitary, nocturnal mammal that is found in several habitats including rainforest, grassland, and shrubs. It feeds mainly on insects and small invertebrates. The animal is covered by an outer shell which is composed of scutes, its armor cover both the back and the sides while the underside has no protection but are covered by a tough skin layer and coarse hair. Nine-banded Armadillo has elongate claws in the middle of the forefeet toes used for digging. Nine-banded Armadillo mates mainly from July to August. The fertilized egg is implanted in the uterus 3 to four months after fertilization to ensure the young is born during the favorable month. The gestation period is four months after the implantation has taken place with the embryo splitting into four to form quadruplets.

What Kind of Mammals are From Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is home to diverse plant and animal life. The country contains 5% of world’s biodiversity. Some mammals that are native to Costa Rica include the West Indian Manatee, the Baird's tapir, and the rough-toothed dolphin.

Native Mammals Of Costa Rica

Notable Costa Rican MammalsScientific Name
West Indian ManateeTrichechus manatus
Derby's Woolly OpossumCaluromys derbianus
Nine-banded ArmadilloDasypus novemcinctus
White-lipped PeccaryTayassu pecari
Northern TamanduaTamandua mexicana
Baird's TapirTapirus bairdii
JaguarPanthera onca
Central American Squirrel MonkeySaimiri oerstedii
Rough-toothed DolphinSteno bredanensis
Van Gelder's BatBauerus dubiaquercus

About the Author

Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor. 


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