Animals of Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve


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Sustainable Development and Wild Nature Conservation in NICARAGUA


Laguna de Apoyo

Golden-mantled Howler Monkey in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. Photo Jenny Moran.

Among the best ecotourism destinations in Nicaragua for wildlife watching is Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. Lots of fauna occupy the forests in the interior of the Apoyo volcanic crater. Howler monkeys abound along the entrance road, and throughout the area. Other arboreal mammals include white-faced capuchin monkey, variegated squirrel, Central American woolly opossum, and southern porcupine; numerous terrestrial wild animals, such as white-tailed deer, paca, agouti, and jaguaroundi are reclusive and nocturnal. More than 225 species of birds have been identified in the Reserve to date, making it a particular birdwatching attraction. Endemic fish species inhabit its clear waters. Butterflies, iguanas and other lizards, and even tarantulas can be seen. Bring your camera and binoculars, hire a guide and trek into the jungle, always just a few minutes from the lake.

Do you have photos of wildlife from Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve? We would like to post your wildlife and nature photography on our blog.


Order Carnivora

Common Opossum

Variegated Squirrel

Salvin's Spiny Pocket Mouse

Golden-mantled Howler Monkey


Turquoise-browed Motmot

Rufous-naped Wren

Montezuma Oropendola

Long-tailed Manakin

White-throated Magpie-Jay

Pacific Screech-Owl

Chestnut-capped Warbler


Chancho Cichlid

Arrow Cichlid




Lake Apoyo is a special place, not only for its amazing views from near and far. The water of Lake Apoyo is home for six endemic species of cichlid fishes. The research group of Estación Biológica Laguna de Apoyo discovered five of these species, and we are continuing research on the evolutionary history, ecology, and conservation aspects of these fishes. One fish species in Lake Apoyo, the arrow cichlid (Amphilophus zaliosus), is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List, and other species may soon follow.

Can you volunteer your time or make a small donation to help us continue to serve the environment in Nicaragua? Please help us make Nicaragua a better place for all people and nature.

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This baby squirrel was raised by the staff after she fell from a tree as an infant. Today she has her own family in the trees above Estación Biológica. Photo Jeffrey McCrary.



Field research is conducted on several animal and plant groups at Estación Biológica Laguna de Apoyo. Photo Jeffrey McCrary.


Nicaragua Spanish Schools

Spanish classes for volunteers, interns and other visitos are vital components of our educational program in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. Photo Jeffrey McCrary.


Proyecto Ecológico

Bird populations are monitored in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve by the staff and volunteers of Estación Biológica Laguna de Apoyo. Photo Joe Taylor.



The forest inside the crater in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve contains dozens of terrestrial species, making the area an appropriate site for wildlife studies. Photo Jeffrey McCrary.


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Field identification of the reptiles of Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. Photo Kolby Kirk.



Scientists at Estación Biológica Laguna de Apoyo study endangered fish species in the lake. Certified SCUBA divers can accompany us on research dives where endemic fish species can be readily seen. Photo Topi Lehtonen.



Scientists at Estación Biológica Laguna de Apoyo conduct surveys of wildlife, including resident and migratory birds. Photo Wendy van Kooten.


scuba dive

Animal rescue at Estación Biológica Laguna de Apoyo. Here, Gaia Director Jeffrey McCrary is accompanied by a rapidly healing variegated squirrel that was severely injured by illegal poachers. Hunting or harming wild animals in any way is illegal in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve. Photo Anne Sutton.