Nicaragua has the highest percentage of forest coverage of any of the Central America countries, combined with the lowest population density.
It is also one of the most biologically diverse regions with a great variety of wildlife, over 1,400 animal species and 12, 000 varieties of plants with well over 5000 that have not been classified yet!
As a beautiful, diverse and still somewhat undeveloped country, one of Nicaragua’s biggest attractions is its wildlife. Filled with all kinds of interesting animals, birds, fish, insects and plants, a nature lover will find Nicaragua a virtual paradise. Of course, not all these creatures are within easy access as many of the animals live in the inaccessible parts of the rainforests. But, here is some of the wildlife you may see when
visiting the area of San Juan del Sur.
Land animals: howler monkeys, anteaters, opossums, sloths, squirrels, armadillos, porcupines, margay, ocelot, coati, jaguarondis, skunks, bats, iguanas, lizards, geckos, turtles, snakes, frogs, toads, leaf cutter and
army ants, termites, tarantulas, butterflies, dragonflies, beetles, katydids, scorpions, mantis, grasshoppers and bees.
Birds: parrots, parakeets, toucans, owls, thrushers, hummingbirds,
turkey vultures, caracaras, hawks, herons, egrets, ground doves, motmots, woodpeckers, tanagers, bananaquits, robins, kiskadees, magpie jays,
and many other species of birds.
Marine animals: whales, turtles, dolphins, manta rays.
Sea Birds: frigate birds, pelicans, terns.
Below is some of the wildlife that you are most likely to see around San Juan del Sur;
Howler monkeys, probably the most seen of our wildlife, they are easily found just outside of town. Listen for their howl and look in the tree tops for movement.
There are six species of howlers in the world and only one in Central America, the mantled howler monkey, so-called because of the long reddish ruff of hair along the flanks of adults.
Howler monkeys are among the largest of the New World primates, weighing
6 to 9 kilograms when adult.
They are vegetarian, eating new leaves, fruits and flowers for much of the year. But when fruit is in short supply, which generally occurs at the end of the rainy season and during the transition into the dry season howlers are able to live for weeks or months at a time on diets composed entirely or almost entirely of leaves, one of their favorite being papaya leaves.
Howler monkeys are so called because of their vocal howl a long, drawn-out sonorous call produced by drawing air into an enlarged hyoid bone in the throat. This vocalization, produced primarily by males, is regarded as the loudest call of any Central American animal and can be heard for a distance of two kilometers or more under good conditions.
All howler monkey troops typically give this call early in the morning in a type of dawn chorus which serves to let other howler monkey troops in their general area know their precise location. Howler troops dislike one another intensely and tend to fight if they come into contact. By howling, troops are able to space themselves efficiently throughout the forest canopy and avoid energetically costly and dangerous fights with other groups. Howler monkeys also tend to howl in the late afternoon to announce their sleeping site as well as prior to heavy rain storms.
Howler monkeys live in their territorial troops of about 15 to 20 individuals of both sexes and all ages.
Owls, we have a wide variety of owls and most are nocturnal though our pygmy owls are crepuscular, active at dawn and dusk.
There are about 162 different species of owls alive today, inhabiting a huge variety of ecological niches, from rainforest to tundra.
Owls are medium to large birds with strong talons, a downward-curved bill, acute hearing and keen eyesight. Most owls are nocturnal hunters that locate their prey using a combination of sight and sound. Their eyes are large thus enabling them to gather ample light under dim conditions.
Owls' eyes face forward giving them binocular vision, a characteristic that helps them sight their prey with great accuracy. Owls have cylindrical-shaped eyes and because of this shape, owls cannot rotate their eyes within their sockets to change their point of focus. Instead an owl must rotate its head to redirect their gaze. To compensate, an owl can rotate its head about 270 degrees, offering it a wide range of sight.
Owls also have sharp hearing. Their ear openings are located asymmetrically on either side of their head, a configuration that gives them three-dimensional sound perception and enables them to pinpoint the slightest scuffle or rustle made by potential prey. Owls are good hunters and feed on insects, small mammals and birds up to thrush size.
Bats, if you are staying outside of San Juan del Sur you will likely see bats around dusk. Good, since many are insect eaters!
Nicaragua is home to 94 of the 126 species of bats in Central America. Bats are flying mammals in the order Chiroptera.
Many species feed primarily on fruit, while several types feed on nectar and pollen. Fruit bats perform an extremely important function as seed dispersers. Nectar-eating bats are important pollinators.
Many plant species depend almost entirely on bats for pollination.
Although bats have relatively good eyesight, most depend on their superbly developed echolocation (or sonar) system to navigate and capture insects in the dark. Bats emit pulses of very high-frequency sound
(inaudible to human ears) at a rate of a few to 200 per second.
By listening to the echoes reflected back to them, they can discern objects in their path. Their echolocation ability is so acute they can avoid obstacles no wider than a piece of thread and capture
tiny flying insects even in complete darkness.
Iguanas, both green and blacks while rather illusive can at times be seen out in the countryside.
Green iguanas are among the biggest lizards and a full-grown green iguana can be between four and six feet, although they have been known to grow up to seven feet long. This includes the tail, however, which can make up about half the body length.
Green iguanas, not surprisingly, are green in color, but can be found in different shades ranging from bright green, to a dull, grayish-green.
Green iguanas have good senses of hearing and smell, and great vision. Green iguanas tend to live alone, but may be seen
in groups occasionally in good sunny basking spots.
Iguanas lay about 50 eggs at a time, in holes in the ground called burrows. They also dig pretend burrows to confuse any animals that may be looking for eggs to eat. After female iguanas lay their eggs, they leave them and do not return. When iguana babies hatch they grow up without any care from their parents. Green iguanas lay many eggs, but only 3-10 babies actually survive to be adults. It takes green iguana eggs about 8-10 weeks to hatch and about 2 years to become mature adults.
Green iguanas are omnivorous, so they eat both plants and meat. They tend to eat mostly plants, though, especially leaves and fruits.
Like many tropical species, the green iguana is also threatened by habitat destruction and has become extinct in some areas and endangered in others. Long known as the "chickens of the trees," green iguanas have been eaten both as a delicacy and a staple food for at least 7,000 years.
The green iguana is also a victim of the pet industry. Many people in the United States and elsewhere want a green iguana for a pet, so there is a big demand for their capture. Although many pet iguanas are now being raised on iguana farms, capture from the wild has lowered their numbers.
Black iguanas are smaller than greens and transform from green to brown to black as they mature. They are great diggers and baskers and can be found sunning stone walls, rocky open slopes and branches
of large trees along the open borders of the forests.
Black iguanas lay clutches of 20-30 eggs in sandy soil and the
young hatch in about 90 days.
There are many different types of frogs andtoads here in Nicaragua,
the most common being the tree and leaf frogs and the marine and cane toads.
They eat insects so they are very welcome around the premises and can be seen at night.
Also keep your eyes open during the day time for our many other species of birds, bees and butterflies.
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