Learning about Mammals of Costa Rica (part 2)

I was most interested in learning about squirrels of Costa Rica because they are active during the day and would be the mammal I’d most likely see.  5 species of squirrels occur in Costa Rica, and the 2 most common–the red tailed (Sciurus granatensis) and the variegated (S. variegatoides)–co-exist throughout the country.  On ranges where they co-occur red-tailed squirrels tend to eat harder nuts such as palm nuts and Brazil nuts, while variegated prefer softer food including mangoes, avocadoes, and young coconuts.  Both eat acorns.  Mountain forests in Costa Rica are dominated by oaks, beech, and bamboo; but they are rich environments with many species of tropical trees and vines including palm, coffee, avocado, and figs.

ADW: Sciurus variegatoides: INFORMATION

Variagated squirrels have many different coat patterns.

Squeamish people might cringe at the numerous species of large rodents living in Costa Rica.  Yellow-spined porcupines (Coendou mexicanus) live in the trees, but the large gray Watson’s climbing rat (Tylomys watsoni) occasionally invades homes.  Spiny rats, 7 lb agoutis (Dasyprocta punctata), and 30 lb pacas (Agouti paca) forage on the forest floor.  Pacas are rare because they reportedly taste good and are a frequent target of hunters.

Lowland paca - Wikipedia

Many large rodents, such as this 30 lb paca, live in the jungles of Costa Rica.

3 species of skunks and 4 species of weasels live in Costa Rica.  The 5 lb grison (Calicotis vittosa) and the 10 lb tayra (Eira barbara) tackle large snakes as well as rodents.  7 species from the raccoon family (Procyonidae) occur in Costa Rica.  White-nosed coatis (Nasua nativa) are among the most common, foraging on the forest floor in groups of up to 30.  This family also includes the adorable arboreal kinkajou (Potos flavus) and olingos (Bassarieyon sp.).

Coati Mundi Stock Photos - Download 35 Royalty Free Photos

White-throated coatimundis patrol jungle floors.

Just 2 species of canids occur in Costa Rica (coyote and gray fox), but an astonishing 6 species of cats live there including oncilla (Leopardus tigrina), margay (L. wiedii), ocelot (L. pardalis), jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagaourundi), cougar (Puma concolor), and jaguar (Panthera onca).  I was unaware of the existence of the oncilla until I read this book.  It is arboreal and closely related to the margay.  Jaguarundis are the most common wild cat here because they prefer disturbed habitats and don’t sport a colorful coat coveted by humans.  Jaguars hunt sea turtles on Costa Rican beaches, dragging the 440 lb chelonians into the jungle.  Jaguars have a powerful bite and eat smaller turtles, shell and all.  They eat the exposed head and neck of sea turtles and scoop out the rest with their paws.

Oncilla-Leopardus tigrinus | Animals, Small wild cats, Wild cats

An oncilla.

5 species of ungulates occur in Costa Rica–Baird’s tapir (Tapirus bairdii), white lipped (Tayassu pecari) and collared (Pecari tajacu) peccaries, and red brocket (Mazama americana) and white tailed (Odocoilus virginianus) deer.  White lipped peccaries and Baird’s tapirs are confined to protected areas.

Central American Red Brocket Deer - Encyclopedia of Life

This red brocket deer is particularly red-coated.

The freshwater dolphin (Sotalia fluviatalis), a small species, swims in rivers as far inland as 50 miles in Costa Rica and even further in Brazil.


Wainwright, Mark

Mammals of Costa Rica

University of Cornell Press 2006

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One Response to “Learning about Mammals of Costa Rica (part 2)”

  1. ina puustinen westerholm Says:

    Those ‘vari-coat-patterns’..are very interesting. Guessing they allow hiding out..in the jungle around them. Since i had been raised with pan fried squirrel..pan gravey and my grandfathers home made bisquits..i DO..envision our ..’plan B’ meat source..around here..if things go..FURTHER south…in thr trump-times. ina

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