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Learn More about the Big Cats of Costa Rica. .

by Skip Licht 9 months ago in central america

So many species of animals here in paradise. The big cats are on top of the food chain!

Costa Rica is home to six different species of big cats!

Many tourists have heard about the world-famous bird watching in Costa Rica. The toucans and scarlet macaws show off their vibrant colors and seeing them in flight can make you so glad you decided to visit one of the happiest and most BIODIVERSE countries on the planet! The Resplendent Quetzal is so beautiful, with its signature aqua and dark red colorings, and a very long, beautiful tail. But there is also another type of animal that is worth your attention: Wild Cats. Costa Rica is home to 6 different wild cat species: Margay, Ocelot, Puma, Jaguar, Jaguarundi, and Oncilla. We're going to share a few exciting facts about these majestic cats so you know exactly what to look for when you're hiking in the jungle on your next adventure to Costa Rica. .

The Margay is one of the smallest of the wild cats here in Costa Rica. They can reach up to about 45 inches long with a 15 inch tail. These cats are very active in several parts of Costa Rica, including national parks such as Corcovado National Parks, Santa Rosa National Park and others. They can be found in San Vito and La Selva as well. They are seen in the dense forested nature reserves throughout Costa Rica. They live for about 18 years!

The Ocelot is a very cute little cat! They are about twice the size of a house cat. Ocelots are carnivores. . they hunt and feed on almost any prey they can overpower, including birds, small-to-medium-sized mammals, small deer, monkeys, frogs, reptiles and rodents. They are also found in many of the national parks and jungle reserves all around Costa Rica. They live for around 10 years or so and are solitary animals, only coming together to breed.

The Puma, called also a "cougar" or "mountain lion" ranks second in size of the wild cats in Costa Rica. They can be almost as large as jaguars, but are not as powerfully built. Pumas also can't roar. . they just growl. Their coat is unspotted and has a grayish-brown to red color. The puma is able to live in extremely varied habitats. It has the largest range of any wild land animal in the Americas, reaching from the Canadian Yukon to the Southern Andes. The elusive animal is a solitary and mostly a night hunter. Its most important prey is deer, but it also eats rodents, birds and small reptiles. The largest population of pumas in Costa Rica lives in the Santa Rosa and Guanacaste National Parks. That is in the far northern section of the country. With that said, pumas have also been spotted in the Corcovado National Park in the Southern Pacific Zone of Costa Rica. They can grow up to 180 pounds and they lead a solitary life!

The Jaguar. . what a beautiful creature! They are classified as 'near threatened'. They can be found in the swamp lands and tropical forests in Costa Rica. Thanks to the large number of protected areas in Costa Rica, jaguars are able to hide and roam without being seen too much by humans. Jaguars are known for their roar. Their roar isn’t as famous as a lion’s roar. It actually sounds more like a repetitive cough. Jaguars are more likely to raise their voices when warning others off their territory. The cats are solitary and often don’t tolerate other jaguars in the areas they roam, which can stretch up to 15-20 square miles. They can weigh up to 200 pounds. As a side note, the Native Americans have a word in their language. . "yaguar". This means "pouncing killer". A powerful title for such a powerful big cat!

The Jaguarundi is an big cat that is native to Central America. It can also be found in the central countries and northern America to Argentina – it is also seen, but rarely, in several parts of New Mexico and Texas in the southern United States. It is found mainly in forests of Costa Rica. This animal preys on different types of reptiles, rats, mice, ground-feeding birds, fish, frogs, rodents and small mammals. They can be as large as 20 pounds and some are 3 feet long! It is found in the bushes and loves to hang around rivers and lakes. It has a weasel-like body with short legs. Jaguarundis have rounded ears and a very flat head. It does not have spots like all other cats of Costa Rica. It has a long tail. It is indeed a weird looking creature!

The Oncilla means, "little spotted cat". It is the smallest wild cat in Costa Rica. It's about the size of a large house cat. While good at climbing, it spends more time on the ground, hunting mostly rodents. It usually sleeps during the day and is very active at night! They can be found all over Costa Rica, especially in the lowland forests. . although some have been spotted in the higher cloud forests as well.

Costa Rica is home to over 500,000 species of animals. In our series of stories about Costa Rica and all it has to offer, we will continue to explore some of the most interesting and beautiful of the creatures!

We hope you enjoyed learning more about the big cats of Costa Rica!

central america
Skip Licht
Skip Licht
Read next: My Adventure in Greece Part II
Skip Licht

Costa Rica is a magical place. Since November, 2002, when I first visited this country, I have been in love with the people, the culture, its biodiversity, the food. . everything about it makes me happy! Now I share my excitement with you!

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