The Costa Rican jungle. It truly is a magical place! A space that is filled with lush plantation, vibrating energy…and lots of wildlife.
Costa Rica is one of, if not the, most bio-diverse environments in all the world and the minute you arrive at Hacienda you will quickly understand how we are all just a small part of this complex community created my Mama Earth. Often times, guests arrive here unarmed with this knowledge, and it can be a bit of a shock to learn that while here, we all do share the land with the creatures that were here before us. From the Olive Ridley Sea Turtle, to the wide array of birds and parrots inhabiting the canopy above, we do make it our aim to educate our visitors about the who’s and the what’s they may encounter while here. Today we thought we might share a short list of some of some of the most common critters that may cross your path while here; so may we present: The Hacienda Nature of Things!
Ok, this one we have to get to straight off the bat. Named for their throaty howls that can be heard for up to three miles, howler monkeys are the loudest and largest of all New World monkeys, and will most like make their presence known early into your trip here! These vocalizations, easily mistaken for an angry lion’s roar, are used to mark territory and communicate with others within the monkey troop. Howlers are considered “folivores”, as they dine primarily on leaves, and they spend most of their time hanging out up in the treetops foraging for food. The mantled howler monkey, common in our area, is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) program, which prevents international trading of the species. While their population is not considered threatened, the biggest concern is the destruction of their native habitat.
If you lay still in your cabina early in the morning and just listen, you will hear an orchestra of distinctly different songs streaming from the jungle. Should you do the same later on in the day and into night, you will notice an entirely new cast of songstresses, serenading you into slumber. While there are literally hundreds of local winged wonders, some of the common ones around Haciendaare the White-throated Magpie-Jay (pictured), Turquoise-browed Motmot, Rufous-naped Wren, Banded Wren, Black-headed Trogon, and Streak-backed Oriole. You best bring a bird book and remember to look up!
What’s not to love about these roll polly omnivores? Stomping around the jungle, these interesting looking mammals can live up to 15 years, and nourish themselves using their sticky and long tongue to gulp up bugs in a sudden. While not as common a sight here, you may hear one stepping in the soil around your cabina at night, in search of a satisfying supper of insects, larvae, beetles, berries, fruits, or worms.
Often you might hear these little guys before you see them! Of around 750 species worldwide, 9 species of gecko can be found in Costa Rica alone, and their happy sounding, rapidly repeated chirp is a common soundtrack here at Hacienda after dusk. Ubiquitous throughout the country, we must embrace the presence of these little lizards, as they are actually working on our behalf, swiftly swallowing up mosquitoes, cockroaches and more! Tiny but mighty, these gravity defying guys and gals adhere to vertical surfaces, and often taking up camp near light fixtures where they feast through the night!
Before I say anything else, I will announce that none of the twelve species of Costa Rica scorpions are deadly.
Usually only about 2 inches in the length, these creepy crawlers have weak venom, and their stings are typically quite mild from all all but one of them, which is quite painful, but not really worse than a wasp. One mantra about Costa Rican scorpions is, “You’ll be afraid of them until you get stung, then you won’t worry anymore.” There is a overwhelming fear surrounding scorpions, but in reality this is due to the reputation they have in other parts of the world. Here in Costa Rica, you can relax! Besides, they eat insects and other arthropods,keeping those populations in check!
Costa Rica hosts upwards of 193 species of frogs and toads placed into various families. One type of toad this is very abundant here, as the Giant Marine Toad, one you are sure to cross paths with in the night here. These massive amphibians, while somewhat unattractive in appearance, are a welcome predator if you are not a fan of insects. Their diverse diet can include anything from bugs, spiders, beetles, earthworms, slugs, snails, and ants, to wasps, spiders and millipedes, small frogs and reptiles, mice, rats or pretty much any other small animal it can stuff into its mouth.
On the cuter and more colourful side of things, we do also have a wide range of tropical frogs, like the famously photographed Red-eyed Tree Frog (pictured), and there are plenty of other types to see including Glass Frogs, Dart frogs, Horn Frogs, Leaf Frogs & more!
At first glance, you might see one of these ancient looking beasts and confuse it for a Dinosaur! Or rather, a Green Iguana, as they are difficult to distinguish. Ctenosaurs, however come in more muted colors, and lack the head spines and crest that the stately Iguana sports. Hanging out in dry areas, these prehistoric plant eaters are mainly herbivores and can actually move at a speed of up to 35 km/h!
Snakes are more afraid of us, then we are of them. Seriously! If they hear humans coming, or feel the vibration of footprints approaching on the ground, they will scram. And now that we have gotten that clear, we are happy to tell you that there are 162 snake species in Costa Rica, of which only 22 are poisonous. Despite their bad reputation the chances of actually seeing a venomous snake are rather slim. They are not only sedentary and nocturnal, but also hard to spot for the untrained eye. Do we see snakes at Hacienda? Well let’s just say that they aren’t restaurant regulars; we are not sure they like green juice.
We hope this little post has helped answer some questions, and perhaps even ignited a better sense of one-ness between us, our earth, and all its inhabitants! Ready to come re-connect? Visit us in our remote, eco-chic surrounds today!