Fer-de-Lance Snake in Corcovado National Park
Fer-de-Lance Snake - Found in Corcovado National Park

Costa Rica is beautiful and serene, but there is a dark side. With all the great power of nature comes the great responsibility of being home to some of nature’s most deadly and feared animals and predators.

Here are a few to look out for avoid during your visit:

1) Fer-de-Lance Snake

Of course this list contains a snake (full disclosure: it is actually snakes since this is the first but certainly not the last one on the list). This snake is a viper, and its bite can be fatal.

So, if you see a gray or brown snake that has a triangular head with diamonds, you should probably abort with caution. You can find this dangerous snake in Corcovado National Park

Bright yellow eyelash viper snake
Bright yellow eyelash viper - Found in Tapantí - Macizo Cerro de la Muerte National Park

2) Eye-lash Viper Snake

I figured I could just get all the snakes over with at once. This is also a venomous viper, with yellow, green, red and brown coloring and coloring combinations.

They have a diamond head too but much smaller than the Fer-de-Lance – so basically, in Costa Rica, diamonds are NOT a girl’s best friend. Or anyone’s best friend.

You can spot them in Cerro de la Muerte and Manuel Antonio National Park

Coral Snake found in Arenal Volcano National Park
Coral Snake - Found in Arenal Volcano National Park

3) Coral Snake

The last snake on the list… but there is a spider later. #Sorrynotsorry.

Few bites are recorded since this snake is reclusive, and they only bite as a last resort. Their fangs are short, but if they penetrate your skin, get help. Like, yesterday.

There are two varieties in Costa Rica, so be aware to recognize the correct one. You can find this amazing snake in Arenal Volcano National Park

Huge Crocodile in the Tarcoles River near Jacó
American Crocodile at the Tarcoles River - Found in Tarcoles

4) American Crocodile

Look, I’ve moved on from snakes! Though the crocodile is no less terrifying. Attacks do happen in Costa Rica, but if you are safe and cautious and listen to your guide you shouldn't have a dangerous run-in.

The most popular spot in Costa Rica to see American Crocodiles is the Tarcoles River and it's famous bridge.

Puma playing with a log
Puma playing with a log - Found in Santa Rosa National Park

5) Puma

Meeeeow. Just kidding. More like RAWWWWR. Big cats in Costa Rica are to be avoided at all costs, though that shouldn't be too hard since they are elusive. You aren't likely to spot one, but if you do you better hope you are nowhere near its kittens.

This magnificent creature uses Santa Rosa National Park for its parties.

The endangered Jaguar in Costa Rica
The endangered Jaguar in Costa RicaFound in Corcovado National Park

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6) Jaguar

See above. Also, if you can remain calm, the best thing to do is to back away slowly. Take pictures at your own risk.

This incredible creature lives in the amazing Corcovado National Park.

Bull Shark off of the Bat Islands (Isla Murcielago)
Bull Shark off of the Bat Islands - Found off the coast of Playas del Coco

7) Bull Shark

If you’ve been holding your breath wondering when the spider is coming, it is next. Feel free to skip that one.

Swimming with the sharks is dangerous, even for a professional. But innocently minding your own business and going for a swim… only to find yourself with a shark is downright terrifying.

While possible, this situation happening to you is about as probable as Sharknado. Of course, this terrifying creature shares waters with the hammerhead shark in Playas del Coco. They are also off of the coast of the Osa Peninsula. It has even been reported that some of the adolescent bull shark even will swim up some of the rivers, yes in the freshwater!

Seriously, if you want to safely swim with sharks you can snorkel with Leopard Sharks in La Jolla (in San Diego, California) in what is known as La Jolla Cove.

8) Brazilian Wandering Spiders

Guess where they like to wander to? Dark, warm places… like your shoes. Shake those things out every morning before you stick your feet in them!

Try not to get bit, as they are venomous. There is a antivenom available, and recorded bites are rare. Again, Corcovado National Park hosts this one!

Green Black Poison Arrow Frog in the forest at Carara National Park
Green Black Poison Arrow Frog in the forest - Found in Carara National Park

9) Poison Dart Frogs

Tiny, beautiful and deadly. These aren’t the types of frogs that you should handle, as their poison can cause paralysis and heart attacks.

Basically if you see a frog that is colored vividly just let it hop along on its way. You can touch them, but remember to wash your hands after that. Two national parks are home for this tiny friend: Carara National Park, Corcovado National Park and Cahuita National Park.

Central American Bushmaster in Corcovado National Park
Central American Bushmaster in Corcovado National Park

10) Central American Bushmaster

The Central American Bushmaster Snake is not quite as lethal as the Fer-de-lance but they are also to be avoided at all costs. These snakes can reach up to 10 feet (3 meters)!

The Bushmaster is known to sit in a coil for a few weeks as it waits to ambush its prey. You should also watch out for the bushmasters favorite hiding places such as the base of a tree, fallen tree limbs or a pile of dead leaves.

Bushmasters can be found in Corcovado National Park and Piedras Blancas National Park

When you are hiking in the forest it is always best to hike with a guide.

Always walk on the trails and ALWAYS keep your wits about you while hiking in the forest.

Happy Travels!