A mind-boggling number of bird species have been identified at Rara Avis, and it’s likely that more are yet to be discovered. As well as the fearsome black, turkey and king vultures and the majestic osprey, you might see nine species of parrot, over twenty types of antbird, thirty different species of hummingbird, both chestnut-mandibled and keel-billed toucans, and the unlikely named great potoo. The endangered great green macaw also nests here, and trogons, bare-necked umbrellabirds and the distinctive-looking three-wattled bellbird can also be spotted.
Among the more common mammals are opossums, monkeys, armadillos, anteaters, sloths and bats (eleven species in total). The reserve harbours five of the country’s six cat species, though the closest you’ll probably come to an ocelot or jaguar is discovering their tracks on a muddy trail. You may also encounter the Watson’s climbing rat that frequents the Waterfall Lodge and has a voracious appetite for hand soap.
Amphibians and reptiles are abundant, ranging from the tree-climbing salamander to the white-lipped mud turtle, and including eight species of tree frog alone. Along with other vipers, the fer-de-lance and bushmaster snakes, two of the most venomous in the world, may lie in wait, so take extra care on the trails by looking everywhere you step and put your hand. Boa constrictors also hang out here; if you do see one, be careful as the generally torpid boa can get aggressive when bothered.