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What Species of Monkeys Are in Costa Rica and Where to See Them?

Although Costa Rica is home to over 6% of the world’s biodiversity, monkeys are among the most identifiable species that serve as a major tourist attraction. For those who are wondering what kind of monkeys are in Costa Rica, this article will provide comprehensive detail of the distinctive features of the four different species that can be observed and the specific places to spot them easily.

The Four Species of Monkeys of Costa Rica

The four major species in Costa Rica are the White-Faced Capuchin, Mantled Howler, Geoffrey’s Spider, and Squirrel Monkeys (Mono Titi).

White-Faced Capuchin Monkey

Costa Rica Monkeys - Capuchin

Description & Behavior

Did you know that the Capuchin friars of Italy, who are monks whose brown robes and hoods frame their faces, are the source of the name for the white-faced capuchin monkey? Well, the reason for this comparison with the monks is because the monkey’s pink face and white facial fur are framed by its black body fur.

These species have a body length of 12 to 22 inches, omitting the tail, which is the same length as the body. They have a lifespan of 15 to 25 years in the wild but are the most intellectual monkeys when tamed since they are usually trained to help the disabled or act as animal performers.

Where to See Them

The Capuchins can be found anywhere from the forest floor to the tops of the trees in Tortuguero, Osa Peninsula, Arenal, Monteverde, Nicoya, and Palo Verde.

However, the Manuel Antonio National Park and the sandy trails of Cahuita are two of the best locations to view these lovely monkeys. If you are planning on visiting these places, it is essential to note that you need to be alert, as they have a habit of grabbing picnic food from tourists.

Mantled Howler Monkey

Costa Rica Monkeys - Howler

Description & Behavior

While on a Costa Rica excursion, you are more likely to hear howler monkeys than see them because these dark-colored monkeys eat mainly leaves, which keeps them higher in the forest’s more mature trees.

Despite being nocturnal, howlers are not very active during the day. The adult male howler is about twenty inches tall, weighs eleven pounds, and is slightly larger than the female. It is simple to distinguish males from females since their white testicles are visible. Females are devoted mothers and typically give birth every two years, though not necessarily during a specific season of the year.

Where to See Them

Howler monkeys live in the northern Junquillal Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Rincon de la Vieja National Park, and Lomas de Barbudal Biological Reserve in the Santa Elena Gulf, which is close to Costa Rica’s northeastern edge.

They are also present on the Nicoya Peninsula in the forests of Barra Hondas National Park, the mangroves of Tamarindo National Wildlife Refuge next to the boat-accessible Las Boulas Marine National Reserve, and the Cabo Blanca Natural Reserve at the southernmost point of the peninsula.

The popular Arenal Volcano National Park, the nearby Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, the Cano Negro National Wildlife Refuge close to the Nicaraguan border, Carara National Park, and the enormous La Amistad International Park, which Costa Rica shares with its neighbor to the south, Panama, are all places where as a tourist whose visiting the interior of the country may see or hear howler monkeys.

They are also present in some of Costa Rica’s most well-known tourist sites, including Manuel Antonio National Park, Corcovado National Park, and the neighboring Piedras Blancas National Park.

Geoffrey’s Spider Monkey

Costa Rica Monkeys - Spider

Description & Behavior

If you’re lucky enough to spot Geoffrey spider monkeys while visiting Costa Rica, they’ll probably be up in the trees. With their long, strong tail, spiders monkey frequently swing through the treetops, which is an awesome sight to behold.

They all have unique pot-belly and gangly limbs that are significantly longer than their legs, while the color of their fur ranges from light brown to practically black. They are primarily omnivorous since they eat fruits, nectar, leaves, and insects.

Where to See Them

The spider monkey is now extremely rare in some areas of Costa Rica, where it historically roamed due to hunting and the transition of natural forests to agricultural use. Fortunately, the country’s northwest is one of the species’ natural remaining habitats.

The tropical forest of Junquillal Bay National Wildlife Refuge, located in the Santa Elena Gulf not far from the western border with Nicaragua, is the furthest north, where tourists to Costa Rica can spot spider monkeys.

In the central highlands, spider monkeys can also be seen in locations closer to the city. Three of them are private cloud forest reserves, such as the well-known Monteverde, the Santa Elena, and the Cano Negro National Wildlife Refuge, which extends nearly to the Nicaraguan border in the north.

The species also live along the Caribbean coast in a few spots of Tortuguero National Park and farther north in Barra del Colorado National Wildlife Reserve.

Squirrel Monkey (Mono Titi)

Description & Behavior

The squirrel monkey, also known as Mono Titi in Spanish, has a slightly shorter stature than the capuchin and weighs only one to three pounds. It can reach a height of one to two feet and has a tail as long as its body for balance.

They are omnivores, but when food is scarce during the dry season, foraging takes up a large portion of their waking hours. Because of its small size, the squirrel monkey has a vast list of predators, including cats, snakes, and birds of prey. Therefore, they apply the strategy of safety in numbers by traveling in a group of 20 to 70 members, especially when foraging.

Where to See Them

The populations of Costa Rica’s squirrel monkeys have been drastically reduced by deforestation and hunting for sport or pest control. According to scientists, only a few thousand of the species are left on Earth; hence are considered endangered species. Therefore, the two locations where you are most likely to see the species are the Manuel Antonio and the Osa Peninsula National Park.

Last Thoughts

If you truly want to see all four species in their natural habitat, we recommend taking a tour of Corcovado National Park, Costa Rica’s hotspot for wildlife. A visit to the lowland jungles of Tortuguero will also enable you to view all or at least several of these monkey species while enjoying the breathtaking scenery.

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