Rarely Seen and Endangered Animals of Panama
As we well know and appreciate, Panama is home to a wide variety of wildlife. It's known as a bird-watching destination, and we've all seen our share of unidentifiable-to-us creepy six-legged critters -- but there are some other truly rare animals, as well, many of whom have only Panama to call their homes. Have you seen any of these?
Three-Toed Pygmy Sloth. There are two types of sloths: three-toed and toe-toed. The pygmy, weighing at best about three-and-a-half kilograms, is the smallest of the three-toed variety. They live exclusively on Isla Escudo de Veraguas. Since these sloths spend most of their time hanging upside down, their fur grows in the opposite direction of the way it grows on most animals! Critically endangered thanks to the destruction of the mangrove trees where they live, their habitat is now protected on Isla Escudo de Veraguas.
Slaty Slender Mouse Opossum. Although elusive, they live in protected areas of the Darien and in the rainforests around the Canal, so they are currently not considered endangered -- as long as people hold off on clearing their land. This little marsupial eats plants and insects.
The Harpy Eagle. It has a range that extends from Mexico to northern Argentina, but populations are not high; it is considered "near threatened" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. In certain areas of Mexico and Central America, it is nearly extinct due to its habitat being destroyed for logging or agricultural purposes. It is the national bird of Panama. According to PeregrineFund.org, the harpy has talons about the same size as a grizzly bear's claws -- the largest of any eagle!
Resplendant Quetzal. These exquisite birds can be found in Panama's cloud forests -- go for a hike around Boquete and you might be lucky enough to see one! They live in Mexico and Central America, and are in fact the national bird of Guatemala.
Glow-Throated Hummingbird. Distinguished by its bronze-green back, this tiny bird is found in Chiriquí and Veraguas. It runs the risk of extinction, as well, as more and more of its habitat is replaced by farmland.
The Golden Frog. This bright yellow amphibian is actually a toad. It has become a symbol of Panama; in fact, August 14 is National Golden Frog Day! You can see this little creature at the El Nispero Zoo in El Valle. It is critically endangered, and is found in nature only in Panama, mostly along mountain streams. There are golden frogs kept captive in various places throughout North America in an effort to breed them and prevent their extinction.