The Bat Jungle (tel. 506/2645-7701, www.batjungle.com , 9 a.m.–7 p.m. daily, $10 adults, $8 students and children), between the gas station and cheese factory, is the first in Costa Rica to provide an insight into the life of bats (Monteverde has at least 65 species).
Eight species of live bats flit, feed, and mate within a sealed enclosure behind a wall of glass. Fascinating exhibits illuminate bat ecology, and an auditorium screens documentaries.
The impressive Frog Pond of Monteverde (tel. 506/2645-6320, www.monteverdethemepark.com , 9 a.m.–8:30 p.m. daily, $12 adults, $10 children/students) displays 28 species of frogs and amphibians, from the red-eyed tree frog and transparent frogs to the elephantine Marine toad, all housed in large, well-arranged display cases.
It also has salamanders and a few snakes, plus termites and other bugs to be fed to the frogs, as well as a Mariposario (butterfly garden, $12 adults, $10 children, $20 with Frog Pond).
Evening is best, when the frogs become active. The cost is valid for two entries, so you can see both daytime and nocturnal species.
The Serpentario (tel. 506/2645-6002, www.snaketour.com , 8 a.m.–8 p.m. daily, $8 adults, $6 students, $5 children, including guide), on the eastern fringe of Santa Elena  village, lets you get up close and personal with an array of coiled constrictors and venomous vipers, as well as their prey: frogs, chameleons, and the like. The dreaded fer-de-lance is here, along with 25 or so other species staring at you from behind thick panes of glass.
The Monteverde Butterfly Gardens (Jardín de las Mariposas, tel. 506/2645-5512, www.monteverdebutterflygarden.com , 9:30 a.m.–4 p.m. daily, $12 adults, $9 students, $4 children, including one-hour guided tour) features a nature center and three distinct habitats: a 450-square-meter netted butterfly flyway and two greenhouses representing lowland forest and mid-elevation forest habitats. Together, they are filled with native plant species and hundreds of tropical butterflies representing more than 40 species.
Guided tours begin in the visitors center, where butterflies and other bugs are mounted for view and rhinoceros beetles, stick insects, and tarantulas crawl around inside display cases. There’s a computer station with interactive software about butterflies, plus an auditorium where videos are shown. Go mid-morning, when the butterflies become active (and most tourists are in the reserve).
Monteverde Orchid Garden (Orquídeas de Monteverde, tel. 506/2645-5308, www.monteverdeorchidgarden.com , 8 a.m.–5 p.m. daily, $10 adults, $7 students) took five years of arduous work to collate the results of the Monteverde Orchid Investigation Project, an ongoing effort to document and research local orchids.
Short paths wind through the compact garden, displaying almost 450 species native to the region arranged in 22 groups (“sub-tribes”), each marked with an educational placard. Miniatures are preponderant, including the world’s smallest flower, Platystele jungermanniodes, about the size of a pinhead (fortunately, you are handed a magnifying glass upon arrival).
Sloth Sanctuary Monteverde (tel. 506/2645-5995, www.slothrescue.org , 8 a.m.–4 p.m. daily, $20 adults, $10 children, $15 students) opened in 2010 and is a superbly presented museum about sloths. Your guided tour starts with a hokey 12-minute video, but the exhibits are excellent, and you get to see both species of sloths close up in living flesh. (Note: Only the two-toed sloth lives at Monteverde ’s elevation in the wild.)