Tayra ground level in a Banana plantation, Atlantic Rainforest, Brazil

Tayra ground level in a Banana plantation, Atlantic Rainforest, Brazil

Tayra ground level in a Banana plantation, Atlantic Rainforest, Brazil

 

The tayra (Eira barbara), is an omnivorous animal from the weasel family, native to the Americas. It is the only species in the genus Eira. Tayras are also known as the tolomuco or perico ligero in Central America, motete in Honduras, irara in Brazil, san hol or viejo de monte in the Yucatan Peninsula, and high-woods dog (or historically chien bois) in Trinidad. The genus name Eira is derived from the indigenous name of the animal in Bolivia and Peru, while barbara means “strange” or “foreign”. Tayras are long, slender animals with an appearance similar to weasels and martens. They range from 56 to 71 cm (22 to 28 in) in length, not including a 37- to 46-cm-long (15 to 18 in) bushy tail, and weigh 2.7 to 7.0 kg (6.0 to 15.4 lb). Males are larger, and slightly more muscular, than females. They have short, dark brown to black fur which is relatively uniform across the body, limbs, and tail, except for a yellow or orange spot on the chest. The fur on the head and neck is much paler, typically tan or greyish in colour. Albino or yellowish individuals are also known, and are not as rare among tayras as they are among other mustelids.

Tayras are solitary diurnal animals, although occasionally active during the evening or at night. They are opportunistic omnivores, hunting rodents and other small mammals, as well as birds, lizards, and invertebrates, and climbing trees to get fruit and honey. They locate prey primarily by scent, having relatively poor eyesight, and actively chase it once located, rather than stalking or using ambush tactics. They live in hollow trees, or burrows in the ground. Individual animals maintain relatively large home ranges, with areas up to 24 km2 (9.3 sq mi) having been recorded. They may travel at least 6 km (3.7 mi) in a single night. The species is listed as least concern.

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