Wild cats in Costa Rica: The 6 species you can find

Wild cats are one of the most impressive families of mammals that you can see in Costa Rica!
The presence of stable populations of felines indicates that in the ecosystem there are enough prey to feed these carnivores, and a biodiversity associated with the good state of conservation. In Costa Rica there are six species of felines: the ocelot, the caucel, the jaguar, the puma, the jaguarundi and the tigrillo.
With a lot of luck you will be able to see one of them in the wild on your next Costa Rica vacation!

Jaguar lying on the floor

Jaguar (Panthera onca)

  • day and night active wild cat
  • inhabits evergreen forests, river forests, mangroves and savannas
  • mainly terrestrial, but like the long-tailed cat, the jaguar rests on trees
  • feeds on wild boars, peccaries, deer, monkeys, birds and fish
  • head-body length between 160 and 180 cm, its body weight varies between 55 and 95 kg

Puma looking from the hole of a tree

Puma (Puma concolor)

  • day and night active feline
  • lives in the dry and rainforests of Costa Rica
  • mainly terrestrial, but excellent climbers, resting on rocks, trunks and branches
  • his prey animals include possums, howler and spider monkeys, reptiles, armadillos, peccary and white-tailed deer
  • head-hull length between 150 and 275 cm and weight between 53 and 72 kg

Ocelot lying on the back in the grass

Ocelot (Leopardus pardalis)

  • third largest wild cat after the jaguar and the puma in Costa Rica
  • occurs in primary and secondary forests throughout the country
  • has big claws, which give him the name “big hands” in Spanish
  • nocturnal feline, during the day it lies on branches in the trees
  • feeds on rodents, rabbits, anteaters, small reptiles, peccaries and fish
  • measures between 70 and 90 cm head-hull length and weighs about 11 kg

Margay behind a tree and plants

Margay (Leopardus wiedii)

  • nocturnal and solitary animal
  • inhabits dry and rainforests, mainly in primary forests mainly in trees
  • feeds mainly on tree-dwelling animals such as monkeys, curly bears, sloths, lizards, squirrels, insects and birds
  • can be confused with the ocelot, but is much smaller
  • reaches a head-hull length of 40 to 60 cm and an average weight of 3.5 kg

Jaguarundi on a branch

Jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi)

  • diurnal wild cat
  • occurs in a variety of habitats, from drylands to rainforests and tolerates the proximity of humans
  • its prey includes rodents, reptiles, amphibians and small birds
  • more social than other wildcats
  • reaches a body-trunk length of 50 to 70 cm and its weight is between 3.5 and 9 kg

Head of a tigrillo wild cat

Tigrillo (Leopardus tigrinus)

  • active at night and in the evening
  • primarily located in primary forests, but tolerates the proximity of humans
  • moves mostly on the ground, but is like all wild cats a good climber
  • feeds on small rodents, lizards, birds, eggs and amphibians
  • his head-hull length varies between 39 and 78 cm and the weight between 2 and 3 kg

Continue browsing our blog to have more information about Costa Rica and its fauna!