Animals in Costa Rica
Two types of crocodilians live in Costa Rica: the spectacled caiman and the American crocodile. While the American crocodile is a true crocodile from the crocodiylia family, the caiman is from the alligator family. Crocodiles and alligators have already been around at the dinosaur age, about 145 – 66 million years ago, and they still look almost the same as their ancient ancestors.
The American crocodile can grow up to 6 meters an weigh over 900 kilos. They are often found in larger rivers and lakes but they can also inhabit salt water and swim a 100 km in the ocean from one river to the next. Crocodiles can live up to 80 years. Crocodiles are good parents. The females build their nests above the water line and lay up to 70 eggs. Until the babies hatch they have to watch the nest and defend the eggs from many predators. Once the little ones hatch the mother carefully takes them into her mouth and carries them to the water. The male crocodile too helps to guard the nursery.
Compared with the crocodile the spectacled caiman is much smaller: he grows up to 2.5 meter and weighs around 60 kg. They are unable to process salt, so their habitat is in jungle streams and swamps.
Costa Rican law prohibits the shooting of crocodiles, so when they become a threat to humans, most animals are transferred to the Tarcoles river, south of Puntarenas. There you can watch groups of really huge crocodiles from atop, standing on the Tarcoles bridge.