Monkeys of Costa Rica: Costa Rica is a country famous for its abundant monkey population. Of 250 species of primates in the world, 68 of these species are located in the Americas, and there are four kinds of monkeys native to Costa Rica:
- White-faced Capuchin Monkey
- Mantled Howler Monkey
- Central American Squirrel Monkey
- Geoffroy’s Spider Monkey
The Southern Pacific Zone is the only section of Costa Rica in which you can see all four monkey species in the wild. The only national park where all four species exist together is the Corcovado National Park on the Osa Peninsula.
All of the Costa Rican monkeys are active during the day and live in the treetops. You can observe them munching on fruit, leaves, and insects, and swinging between the trees using their prehensile tail as a fifth limb.
White-Faced Capuchin Monkey
The white-faced capuchin monkey is the 2nd smallest monkey species in Costa Rica. Adult males average just over 8 pounds and females around 6. Known to be the most curious monkey, they will get down on low branches to carefully examine you as you photograph them.
Capuchin monkeys will eat absolutely anything and are notorious for robbing tourists. But watch out, they may throw a stick or two at you when you’re not looking, as they are known to be one of the more aggressive monkey species.
Fun Fact: Capuchin monkeys are thought to be the most intelligent monkey species in the world and have even been trained to assist paraplegics.
The booming roar of a howler monkey can be heard from over 3 miles away and is the reason this monkey was gifted its name. Howling loudly at dusk and dawn, the males call to each other across the jungle, to claim their section and warn others away.
Known for being the loudest land animal, the chilling sound of a howler monkey is startling and you will never forget the first time when you hear it.
Howlers are the 2nd largest monkey species in Costa Rica. Adult males average 16 pounds and adult females 12 pounds. Despite their booming howl and large size, they are known to be a gentle breed with a calm, peaceful nature.
Infants are silver to golden brown and in adulthood become black with brown or blonde saddles. Howler monkeys are sedentary foragers and live on a diet of plants and fruit.
Fun Fact: The call of the howler monkey was used in Jurassic Park as the sound of the T-Rex.
Suggested Reading: Birds of Costa Rica
The smallest of the Costa Rican monkey species is the adorable squirrel monkey. They typically average around 1.5 pounds and are similar in size to a squirrel. These tiny guys will eat mostly anything but prefer insects.
Very entertaining to watch, they fly through the trees and forage for food, while squeaking, chirping, and playing amongst each other.
The squirrel monkey, aka the Titi monkey, is making a comeback after near extinction, and is no longer considered “endangered”. As their population continues to grow they have been upgraded to “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Fun Fact: Squirrel monkeys are known to have the largest brain-to-body mass ratio of all monkey species in the world.
The spider monkey is the largest of the Costa Rican monkey species, averaging around 18 pounds. They are easily recognized by their long, slim arms and large size. A bit more elusive than the other monkey species, they are somewhat rare to spot in the wild.
The IUCN has rated Geoffroy’s Spider monkey as endangered. Spider monkeys are the first animal to vanish from an area once deforestation has occurred, as they require large, lush areas to reproduce.
The presence of a spider monkey in a particular forest is a strong indicator of the success and health of that particular area.
Fun Fact: Spider monkeys do not have thumbs, they maneuver through the trees using only their prehensile tail and their arms.
But of all of your monkey sightings in Costa Rica, there is nothing quite like getting lost in the pure, innocent eyes of a baby monkey. Of all the monkeys of Costa Rica, seeing a monkey baby is always will be your favorite experience.