Costa Rica Reptiles

American Crocodile cooling off with its open mouth in Palo Verde National Park
American Crocodile cooling off with its open mouth in Palo Verde National Park

Located in the Northern Hemisphere, Costa Rica’s strategic location has given it immense geographical variety. The country holds 5% of the world’s biodiversity and offers an incredible variety of flora and fauna. Costa Rica contains an interesting range of reptiles and is home to some 200 species of reptiles.

Snake Country

Snakes makes up half of the reptile population in the country. There are approximately 135 snake species present in Costa Rica and only 18 of these are poisonous. The most commonly found snake species throughout the region are the Boas. Although not poisonous, these snakes can reach enormous proportions. Rattlesnakes, the colorful Coral Snakes and the Fer-de-lance Snakes are amongst the poisonous species found.

Whereto Go

American Crocodile and the speckled caimans are the most popular reptiles in the region. Many tourists only visit Costa Rica in the hope to see these reptiles only. Found commonly in the wet lowlands and estuaries along the Pacific coastline of the country and at the Palo Verde National Park, Corcovado National Park and the Tortuguero National Park, these creatures can be found basking at the various mangroves swamps, beaches, creeks and on the banks of rivers and streams.

Iguana from Costa Rica

The most common reptile found in various forest habitats of Costa Rica is the tree-dwelling iguana. These are mostly found crawling the forest floors or basking in the sun in the dry regions and mostly at elevations below 2,500 feet. The two species of iguana present in Costa Rica include the Ctenosaur or the Spiny-Tailed and the Green Iguana. Another miniature lizard species found most commonly at the Santa Rosa National Park, Palo Verde National Park and the Corcovado National Park is the Jesus Christ Lizard. Also called the Basilicas, this Pacific lowland dweller runs across water on its hind legs.

Marine Turtles

Costa Rica also provides critical habitats to six of the world’s eight marine turtle species. Several beaches on the Pacific as well as the Caribbean coast of the country offer protection to these endangered creatures that come to lay their eggs at these nesting areas. The turtle species found nesting on the Pacific coast of the country includes the Olive Ridley, Green Turtles, Hawksbill, Leatherbacks and the occasional Loggerheads. Terrestrial turtles are the most common on the Caribbean coast, particularly in the lowlands. The Tortuguero National Park, Santa Rosa National Park and the Ostional Wildlife Refuge are one of the fewer places where these turtles can be sighted.

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