Costa Rica is considered to possess the highest density of biodiversity of any country worldwide. While encompassing just one third of a percent of Earth’s landmass, approximately the size of West Virginia, Costa Rica contains four percent of species estimated to exist on the planet. Hundreds of these species are specific to Costa Rica: frogs, snakes, lizards, finches, hummingbirds, gophers, mice, cichlids, and gobies among many more.
Costa Rica’s biodiversity can be attributed to the variety of ecosystems within the country. Tropical rainforests, deciduous forests, Atlantic and Pacific coastline, cloud forests, and mangrove forests are all represented throughout the 19,730 square miles of Costa Rica’s landmass. The ecological regions are twelve climatic zones. This variation provides numerous niches which are filled by a diversity of species.
Here are a few more special visitors we had at TikiVillas Rainforest Lodge:
Chachalacas are mainly brown birds from the genus Ortalis. Large chicken-like bird. Dull brown or grayish all over. Small head. Long tail with white tip. Long, strong legs. Bare red skin on throat. Its name comes from its loud, raucous calls. The Plain Chachalaca is the only member of the family of guans, curassows, and chachalacas to reach the United States. The family contains approximately 50 species, ranging from Mexico to southern South America, many of which are endangered by over-hunting. Unlike most other chicken relatives in North America, the Plain Chachalaca is largely arboreal, spending most of its time foraging in trees. It is commonly observed feeding in precarious positions, including upside down.
Chachalacas by Marlene Taber
The Mealy Parrots are social and can usually be found in pairs or in large flocks. They are even known to interact with other parrots, such as macaws. They are usually quiet, but can get loud at dusk and dawn. These large amazon parrots average 38-41 cm (15 – 17 inches) in length, including the tail and typically weigh between 540 to 700 g (19.01-24.64 ounces). Some Mealy parrots, however, are much larger than this.
Though less colorful than related parrot species, Mealy Parrots have a patch of blue, purple, or violet on the top of their heads. Along with the purple or blue crown, Mealy Parrot sometimes have patches of yellow on the head and usually have a green or mostly green body, with tail feathers being light green or lime at the tip. Some Mealy Parrots have a light blue/teal sheen to their green coat, and an undercoat of yellow, blue, purple, red, and/or teal. The beaks are usually yellowish. The eyes are a reddish-orange color, and underneath the eyes are usually white unfeathered rings.
Their natural diet consists of fruits (including berries), seeds, nuts, blossoms and leaf buds.
The noise level and talking abilities vary greatly amongst this species. There are some quiet birds amongst them — but others can get very noisy. In fact, their voices can carry over a mile. Mealies enjoy repeating a phrase over and over; each time using a different inflection.
Mealy parrot by Marlene Taber
The Squirrel Monkey is a small species of New World Monkey that is natively found in the forests and tropical jungles of Central and South America. Measuring as little as 25 cm from the top of the head to the base of their tail, these tiny primates are more than double that size when including their long tail.
Squirrel Monkeys are incredibly sociable animals that move about noisily in the trees in large troops that are usually 40 or 50 animals strong, but can contain up to 500 individuals.
They communicate between one another using a range of different noises with these complex social troops sleeping together at night before breaking up into their sub-groups to feed during the day. Squirrel Monkeys are excellent at climbing and leap between branches to travel through the forest. Their long tail provides them with excellent balance and aided by their nimble hands and feet, allows Squirrel Monkeys to cover vast areas of the jungle.
The Squirrel Monkey is an omnivorous animal that eats both small animals, plants and plant matter in order to survive, feeding during the day in their smaller sub-groups.
The Squirrel Monkey is thought to be one of the most intelligent species of primate and is known to have the largest brain to body mass ratio of all the monkey species in the world. Squirrel Monkeys have incredibly good eyesight and colour vision which means that they are able to spot fruits amongst the dense vegetation with ease.
Due to the small size and highly intelligent nature of the Squirrel Monkey, they have been captured and kept as pets in both their native regions and around the world.
Squirrel Monkey visiting the TikiVillas Lodge
Sloths are slow-moving mammals that spend their lives hanging about in the trees of Central and South America. The sloth’s slothful nature is down to its diet, which consists mostly of toxic leaves that take a long time to digest and provide little energy. In fact it takes a sloth one whole month to digest a single leaf. If they did so any faster they would literally poison themselves.
To help with digesting they have a multi-chambered stomach, much like a cow, the contents of which can take up a third of their body weight. They also need to rest. A lot. They say that sloths spend 70% of their time resting. They’re not being lazy – they are busy digesting their dinner.
A sloth’s body and biology are perfectly evolved to spend minimum energy. Curved claws and a strong grip allow them to hook on and hang – like a living hammock. An efficient design that means they only need half the muscle of regular mammals. Their metabolism is half that expected of mammals a similar size and body temperature a few degrees lower than other mammals. They lack the ability to shiver and are known to bask in the sun, much like cold-blooded animals like lizards, in order to warm up in the morning and get moving.
Sloths do everything upside down, eat, sleep, mate and even give birth. As a result their fur grows the opposite direction, away from their extremities and with a parting on their tummy. Each hair has a groove down the centre, which allows algae to grow inside it and give the sloth a wild green look. The coat of a sloth is basically like a mini jungle with not just algae but several resident insect species including a moth that only lives on a sloth. They have no natural body odour so they look and smell just like a tree. This helps them blend in with the forest and avoid being eaten by their number one predator – the Harpy eagle.
Sloths rarely come down from the trees except for once a week to go to the bathroom. Why they should make themselves vulnerable to land predators like ocelots by coming to the ground was long considered one of the great mysteries of sloth behaviour. It is now believed they do so to leave scent messages for potential mates.
Sloth in motion around TikiVillas Rainforest Lodge
Golden Orb Web Spider
The Golden Orb Web Spider is not the largest spider, but makes the largest and strongest web. It gets its name from the golden colour of its silk.
The web can run from the top of a tree 6m high and up to 2m wide. Unlike other spider webs, the Golden Orb Web Spider’s web is not dismantled often and can last several years.
Designed to catch large flying insects, the web is slightly angled. It is not a perfect wheel and is usually off-centre. To make its web, the spider releases a thin thread into the wind. When it catches on something, the spider walks along it trailing a stronger non-sticky thread. It repeats the process in the centre of the line to form a strong Y-frame. Around this, it spins the rest of the web out of sticky capture silk.
The silk is so strong that it can trap small birds, which the spider doesn’t eat. These trapped creatures often destroy the web by thrashing around. To avoid such damage, the spider often leaves a line of insect husks on its web (like the safety strip across glass doors!); or builds smaller barrier webs around the main web.
The Golden Orb Web Spider’s venom is generally harmless to humans and they rarely bite even if we blunder into and destroy their webs. The bite is just a scratch.
The Golden Orb-Spider in the Rainforest
Tree frog at TikiVillas Lodge
Pamina Bulls Eye Silk Moth
Pamina Bulls Eye Silk Moth
Delight yourself in the middle of the hundreds of species of birds, including toucans and parrots and also observe dolphins, whales, sea turtles. Spot the exotic wildlife in the area and share your discoveries with us. We are looking forward to have you at TikiVillas Rainforest Lodge!