Endangered Species

Costa Rica’s endangered creatures

Loss of biological diversity is a big risk. Biodiversity and non-human species form a natural part of the complex web that supports humanity. Damage to one part of the ecosystem could damage the whole. It requires the maintenance or conservation.

We must preserve native species through sustainable development, when you visit national parks and reserves of Costa Rica, you are helping to keep the slow-growing forests, biodiversity, native habitat, indigenous peoples’ rights, and proper management of resources.

This is a list of endangered animals of Costa Rica, help us protect them!

Bangs’s Mountain Squirrel

/syntheosciurus_brochus bangs mountain squirrel

Scientific Name:
Syntheosciurus brochus

Other Names and/or Listed subspecies:
Neotropical Montane Squirrel

Group: Mammals

Status/Date Listed as Endangered:
NT-IUCN: 2008

Area(s) Where Listed As Endangered:
Costa Rica, Panama

Cotton-top Marmoset

saguinus oedipus cotton top marmoset

Scientific Name:
Saguinus oedipus

Other Names and/or Listed subspecies:
Cotton-headed Tamarin

Group: Mammals

Status/Date Listed as Endangered:
EN-US FWS: October 19, 1976

CR-IUCN: 2008

Area(s) Where Listed As Endangered:
Costa Rica to Colombia

Galapagos Sea Lion

zalophus wollebaeki galapagos sea lion

Scientific Name:
Zalophus wollebaeki

Other Names and/or Listed subspecies:
Zalophus californianus ssp. wollebaeki

Group: Mammals

Status/Date Listed as Endangered:
EN-IUCN: 2008

Area(s) Where Listed As Endangered:
Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador

Geoffroy’s Spider Monkey

ateles geoffroyi geoffroy spider monkey

Scientific Name:
Ateles geoffroyi

Other Names and/or Listed subspecies:
Also called the Black-handed Spider Monkey. 2 subspecies endangered: Black-foreheaded spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi frontatus), Panamanian red spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyl panamensis)

Group: Mammals

Status/Date Listed as Endangered:
EN-IUCN: 2008

EN-US FWS: June 2, 1970

Area(s) Where Listed As Endangered:
Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama

Also called the black-handed spider monkey, Geoffroy’s spider monkey is found in Central America in the countries of Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama. Adults reach about 15 to 25 inches in length and weigh about 17 lb. They are called spider monkeys because of their extremely long, spidery limbs and prehensile tail, which acts as a fifth arm and is used for feeding and picking things up and moving around the forest. They are often seen hanging in trees by one limb or by the tail.

They are excellent tree climbers and have been known to leap over 30 feet between trees and branches, and they are also able to walk bipedal along tree branches. Coat colors vary according to subspecies and range from light brown to black, and as their alternate name suggests, their hands and feet are black. Their faces are hairless, with un-pigmented skin around the eyes and muzzle.

Spider monkeys are found on the coasts of lowland rain- and mountain forests. They are only active in the day and rarely come down to the ground. They are very social animals and tend to live in groups of 4 to 35. (Some groups of up to 100 have been observed.) When ready to forage they tend to split up into smaller groups. Diet consists of fruit, leaves, flowers, and occasionally bark, nuts, seeds, insects, spiders, and eggs. Breeding occurs year round, and the females are very picky about who they will mate with. Only a single infant is born after a gestation period of seven to eight months. When young females mature, they tend to leave their family group to join another.

There are 16 Geoffroy’s spider monkey subspecies, and two are threatened with extinction: the Black-foreheaded spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi frontatus), found in Costa Rica and Nicaragua, and the Panamanian red spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi panamensis) found in Panama and Costa Rica. Both suffer from habitat loss due to logging, and some are hunted for food by locals since they live in large groups and are very noisy, making them easy to find. The black-foreheaded spider monkey is protected in one national park and two reserves, and The Panamanian red spider monkey occurs in a national park in Costa Rica and one biological reserve.

Giant Anteater

myrmecophaga tridactyla giant anteater

Scientific Name:
Myrmecophaga tridactyla

Group: Mammals

Status/Date Listed as Endangered:
NT-IUCN: 2008

Area(s) Where Listed As Endangered:
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Handley’s Tailless Bat

anoura cultrata handley tailess bat

Scientific Name:
Anoura cultrata

Group: Mammals

Status/Date Listed as Endangered:
NT-IUCN: 2008

Area(s) Where Listed As Endangered:
Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.

Honduran White Bat

ectophylla alba honduran white bat

Scientific Name:
Ectophylla alba

Group: Mammals

Status/Date Listed as Endangered:
NT-IUCN: 2008

Area(s) Where Listed As Endangered:
Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama

Jaguarundi

herpailurus yagouaroundi jaguarundi

Scientific Name:
Herpailurus yagouaroundi

Other Names and/or Listed subspecies:
Also called the Otter Cat. 4 ssp. endangered: Panamanian J. (Herpailurus yagouaroundi panamensis), Guatemalan J. (Herpailurus yagouaroundi fossata), Gulf Coast J. (Herpailurus yagouaroundi cacomitli), Sinaloan J. (Herpailurus yagouaroundi tolteca).

Group: Mammals

Status/Date Listed as Endangered:
EN-US FWS: June 14, 1976

Area(s) Where Listed As Endangered:
Arizona, Costa Rica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Texas

The jaguarundi is a small weasel-like wildcat with short, rounded ears. Adults can reach up to 30 inches in length and can grow a tail length of up to 20 inches. Its fur color varies according to subspecies and can appear brown to dark brown or gray in color. Jaguarundis are also called otter cats because of their short legs, slender elongated bodies, and small flattened heads, giving them an otter-like appearance. Jaguarundis have spots when born, but they eventually disappear as they grow to be adults. They prefer lowland brush areas close to water or dense tropical areas as their habitat. They are good tree climbers but spend most of the time on the ground. They are also good swimmers.

Jaguarundis eat fish that they catch from streams and rivers, small mammals (such as rodents, armadillos and rabbits), and also reptiles, and birds. They are thought to be solitary except during breeding season in the wild but have been known to form groups in captivity. Mating occurs from September to November, and fighting and screaming can be heard while mating. Females give birth to one to four kittens after a gestation period of 70 days. The kittens remain dependent on the mother for about two years.

Four of the eight subspecies of jaguarundi appear on the federal list of endangered species: The Panamanian Jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi panamensis) is found in Panama, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, the Guatemalan Jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi fossata) is found in Mexico and Nicaragua, the Gulf Coast Jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi cacomitli) is found in the US (Texas) and Mexico, and the Sinaloan Jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi tolteca) is found in the US (Arizona) and Mexico. Population numbers for the jaguarundi are not known, but the species is quite rare and threatened mainly by habitat loss and hunting for its fur. The jaguarundi is easily tamed and does well in captivity, and some jaguarundis can be found in zoos.

Little Spotted Cat

leopardus tigrinus little spotted cat

Scientific Name:
Leopardus tigrinus

Other Names and/or Listed subspecies:
Tiger Cat, Felis tigrinus, Tiger Ocelot, Oncilla

Group: Mammals

Status/Date Listed as Endangered:
EN-US FWS: March 28, 1972

VU-IUCN: 2008

Area(s) Where Listed As Endangered:
Costa Rica to Northern Argentina

The little spotted cat is a wild cat species found in South America. It is the smallest of the three cats in its genus Leopardus, which includes the ocelot and the margay. Adults weigh only 4 to 8 lbs on average and can only reach up to 25.5 inches long. The tail can reach up to 13 inches long. Males are slightly larger than females. Their coats are typically tan to tawny in color and marked with black-blotchy spots, and there are black rings on the tail.

There are also pale markings appearing on the face. The back of the ears are black with a white spot, the fur is thick, soft, and short, and the underparts are white. Although adults have a small frame, they are excellent climbers and hunters.

This species is found in subtropical, humid evergreen and mountain cloud forests. They have also been reported in semi-arid thorn scrub in northeastern Brazil, dry deciduous forests in Venezuela, and also abandoned eucalyptus plantations. They are not commonly seen, and it is believed that they are nocturnal and solitary. Males are territorial and patrol boundaries, and they are even aggressive toward females. Diet consists of small rodents, birds, insects, and reptiles. They have also been observed eating small primates in Brazil. The reproductive behavior of this species is only known through the study of mating pairs in captivity. Females give birth to one to two kittens after a gestation period of 74 to 78 days.

This species is threatened with extinction due to hunting for its fur and deforestation. It is legally protected in several countries, but in others, hunting is still allowed. The habitat of the species is commonly used for coffee plantations, but sightings in deforested areas and abandoned plantations suggest an ability to adjust to human disturbance.

Lonchophylla concava

Lonchophylla concava bat
Scientific Name:
Lonchophylla concava

Group: Mammals

Status/Date Listed as Endangered:
NT-IUCN: 2008

Area(s) Where Listed As Endangered:
Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama

Red-backed Squirrel Monkey

Saimiri Oesterdii Titi Monkey
Scientific Name:
Saimiri oerstedii

Other Names and/or Listed subspecies:
Black-crowned Central American Squirrel Monkey

Group: Mammals

Status/Date Listed as Endangered:
VU-IUCN: 2008

EN-US FWS: June 2, 1970

Area(s) Where Listed As Endangered:
Costa Rica, Panama

Also called the Central American squirrel monkey, the red-backed squirrel monkey occurs in the forests and cultivated areas of Panama and southern Costa Rica. Adults grow from 9 to 14 inches long and weigh up to 2.2 lb. The tail can reach up to 18 inches long. Males are larger than females. Its has reddish fur and white underparts, and its face, throat and ears are white.

The red-backed squirrel monkey is social and prefers to live in groups. Groups have been seen with up to 70 monkeys. They are not aggressive and neither males nor females appear to be dominant. The monkeys like to spend most of the day in trees and feeding on fruit and insects. Breeding can occur year round and the female gives birth to one young after a gestation period of 152 to 170 days. The young depends on its mother for one year.

There may be less than 4000 red-backed squirrel monkeys left in the wild. The main cause of decline is habitat loss and deforestation due to agricultural clearing of land and tourism development. Also these monkeys were once captured and traded as pets or used in laboratory experiments. One protected population does exist in Costa Rica in Manuel Antonio National Park and Corcovado reserve.

Spectral Bat

vampyrum spectrum
Scientific Name:
Vampyrum spectrum

Group: Mammals

Status/Date Listed as Endangered:
NT-IUCN: 2008

Area(s) Where Listed As Endangered:
Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela.

Talamancan Small Eared Shrew

cryptotis gracilis rat
Scientific Name:
Cryptotis gracilis

Group: Mammals

Status/Date Listed as Endangered:
VU-IUCN: 2008

Area(s) Where Listed As Endangered:
Costa Rica, Panama

Talamancan Yellow-shouldered Bat

Sturnira mordax talamancan yellow shouldered bat
Scientific Name:
Sturnira mordax

Group: Mammals

Status/Date Listed as Endangered:
NT-IUCN: 2008

Area(s) Where Listed As Endangered:
Costa Rica, Panama