Costa Rica’s Abundant Natural Treasures

The Poison Dart Frog
Costa Rican rainforest
The Scarlet Macaw
Crocodiles in the Tarcoles River
The Mantled Howler Monkey
The Jesus-Christ Lizard
Blue Morpho Butterfly – Six inch wingspan!

Meet the Rain Forest Rocket Frog

The rainforest rocket frog (silverstoneia flotator) is a slightly less dangerous (and less colorful) cousin of the poison dart frog. These amphibians are ubiquitous with Costa Rica’s biodiversity; you’ll find them almost everywhere—in streams, rivers and smaller bodies of water.

Listen in as this male frog, according to vocalization experts, is either marking his territory or attempting to attract females. Good luck, little greenish brown buddy!

Experiencing new wildlife, like our rocket frog, is one of the top reasons that people travel here from all over the world.  Read on a discover the aptly named Jesus Christ lizard and the world’s loudest mammal, the mantled howler monkey.

Costa Rica: Background


Costa Rica is incredibly rich in species of all shapes, sizes and colors. The flora (plants) and fauna (animals) here form a unique mixture of species quite unlike any other place on earth.

Millions of years ago, this part of Central America was submerged between the landmasses that became North and South America, before it rose out from the ocean to form a land bridge connecting the two continents.

Costa Rica’s Ecological Treasures

Even though Costa Rica is the same size as West Virginia (a minuscule 0.33% of the earth’s landmass), the nation is home to an amazing 4% of the Earth’s total species. Couple this diversity with national policies of environmental protection (27% of the nation’s lands are protected parks or refuge land), and it should be no surprise this is an ecological destination without rival.

Some Species to Watch for…

The Scarlet Macaw

Smiling down from the jungle canopy are the Scarlet Macaws. These birds mate for life and can live to a very old age. Sadly, they have long been threatened by poachers supplying the international pet trade. These birds can sell for thousands of dollars, thus fueling the illegal trade of these majestic birds. According to experts, they can be as intelligent as a 3-8 year old child, can live to be 50 years old and have the emotional capacity of a toddler.

Butterfly Central

10% of the world’s butterfly species call Costa Rica home. They bring an amazing degree of color and life to the rainforest, and are pollinators of numerous flowers.  One favorite is the massive, electric-blue morpha (morpho amathonte).  This butterfly is camouflaged when sedentary; when in flight, its massive 6-inch wingspan makes it easier to spot.


Costa Rica’s crocodiles are not of the Nile or saltwater variety, rather they are known as American crocodiles (crocodylus acutus).  Luckily, they don’t generally attack people like their more aggressive cousins, but they are abundant, particularly on the Tarcoles river. Watching them feed, of course, is a seat-of-the-pants type of experience that should not be missed. How else would you describe witnessing a 13-foot long, 1000-lb. giant reptile gorging itself? (editor’s note: You may be interested in the special crocodile tour on our Costa Rica Adventure. Check it out!)

One Really Cool Lizard

Affectionately named the Jesus Christ lizard (basilicus basilicus) the basilisk lizard sadly can’t turn water into wine. Instead, they do the next best thing. When they are spooked, they can run across water, accelerating with lightning speed and the aid of their large feet and special toes. These lizards also look like mini dinosaurs, with crests protruding up from their head, body and tail.

The Mantled Howler Monkey

No creature on our planet is louder than the mantled howler monkey. Audible by humans to a distance of nearly 3/4 of a mile, these monkeys are described as making a  grunting, roaring or howling sound. According to National Geographic, their vocalization is part “air raid siren” and “heavy metal guitar solo”. Luckily, these guys spending 15 hours a day sleeping and resting their vocal chords.



These are just a few of the fascinating animals that you can experience and observe firsthand in Costa Rica. Get there with College Break.