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Safe Camping in the Flora & Fauna of Costa Rica

Costa Rica Travel News – Any tourist whom has the sense to venture beyond the party scene within Costa Rica knows quite well the vast biodiversity within the country. Indeed it seems like our maker was slightly overzealous when creating this part of the Earth, cramming as much vegetation, landscapes and creatures into such a tiny land mass.

costa rica scorpionsHowever, it was only after spending a few months in an open-aired tree house within a remote area of the Nicoya Peninsula that I realised there were more than a few other critters I had no choice but to share my living space with. Here are some of the compulsory roomies you may encounter when in a similar living environment:

Scorpions– Although most Costa Rican species are rather small, timid and not highly venomous, these little guys are encountered everywhere and can still dole out a nasty sting. Luckily they are largely nocturnal and usually don’t venture too far from their burrows, but take special care when putting your shoes on at night and always use a torch when going for a midnight bathroom break.

Tarantulas– Most of the same cautions for scorpions applies to these little blighters too. If anything, these guys are a little more reclusive, but beware that their first line of defence is usually to rub their itchy abdomen hairs into your eyes with their back legs. From experience I know they love pantries- cereal boxes especially.

Iguanas– Rarely are the Iguanas any physical threat, but when living in the elements be prepared to be woken by more than a few ‘foreplay’ sessions along the tin roof during the night.  On the upside, these guys will always help you out with ridding the surrounding yard of any fallen fruit; mangoes, cashew fruit- anything, basically. Also be mindful of the Iguanas’ warrens within your immediate vicinity as they can be quite territorial at times.

Howler monkeys– Don’t be fooled; these are not the sort of cute, mischievous little devils you may have seen portrayed in movies. Howlers don’t bite, steal your stuff or throw their poo at you. In fact, they seem like they don’t really like being around humans at all and keep their distance accordingly. Although, if you ever find yourself living amongst a troupe of them you will quickly realise that your alarm clock has become redundant (not that you really need an alarm clock in a Costa Rican tree-house, but I digress). At the crack of dawn and in the early evening, you will never forget why they call them ‘Howler’ monkeys.costa rica crab

Crabs!– Now a crab might seem a trifle paling in comparison to the latter pests, but rest assured; when it gets darker and you bed into your hammock for the night you become super sensitive to anything crawling underneath you. Even as far as a kilometre away from any shoreline, the crabs come-a-sneakin’ around when the sun goes down, and in the dark a crab is as good as a scorpion, a tarantula or anything else that will scare the pants off you when you tread on something weird in the night.

Snakes– There are many constricting & non-venomous varieties within Costa Rica, but considering one bite from the Bothrops (Fer-de-lance) can kill an adult within hours, it’s an unsettling thought that most anti-venoms are administered from legitimate hospitals- some of which can be extremely hard to get to in the middle of the night and in the middle of nowhere, no less. Check your bed or hammock before climbing in, and secure your mosquito net accordingly.

And the #1 jungle pest to look out for is…

Raccoons– Yep, Costa Rica has them too. Scorpions may creep and crawl, snakes may slither, the howl of a monkey might give you a fright- but nothing is scarier than an unwaveringly determined raccoon who doesn’t give a damn about your personal belongings or space. Don’t even bother trying to shoo these guys away- they cut up nastier than a lawnmower when disturbed…

So to any that may find themselves in the midst of the Costa Rican countryside within a dwelling with no wall to speak of- and you hear a bump in the night- just remember two simple rules:

–  Fasten your bed net, and

–  If you close your eyes and block your ears, they can’t hurt you

That said, happy camping all! 

By Rueben Humphris

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