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Overview

Distribution

Range Description

This species occurs from southern Veracruz, Mexico, throughout Mesoamerica and south across South American to northern Argentina, occurring throughout except for the high Andes and Caatinga (eastern Brazil).
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Geographic Range

The tayra, Eira barbara, can be found in the neotropical forests of Central and South America. It ranges from Mexico south to Bolivia and northern Argentina and also on the island of Trinidad (Mares et al., 1989; Reid, 1997).

Biogeographic Regions: neotropical (Native )

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

The tayra is a weasel about the size of a medium sized dog, with a long, bushy tail and long neck ending in a robust head. Its head and body range from 60 to 70 cm in length and its tail length is 35 to 45 cm. Tayras have large hind feet varying in length from 80 to 90 mm and ears about 35 to 40 mm long. Color varies with geographic range, but in general the tayra has a dark brown body with a slightly paler head. Usually it has a white, diamond shaped patch on its throat. Tayras have long claws and pronounced canines. Their dental pattern is 3/3, 1/1, 3/4, 1/1 =34.

Range mass: 3 to 6 kg.

Range length: 60 to 70 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

Average basal metabolic rate: 6.811 W.

  • Emmons, L. 1990. Neotropical Rainforest Mammals: A Field Guide. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.
  • Mares, N., R. Ojeda, R. Barquez. 1989. Guide to the Mammals of Salta Province, Argentina. University of Oklahoma Press.
  • Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World, 6th ed.. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Reid, F. 1997. A Field Guide to the Mammals of Central America and Southeastern Mexico. Oxford University Press.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
Eira barbara is a diurnal, sometimes crepuscular species (Reid, 1997), solitary that travels within a big home range (Sunquist et al., 1989). It seems to be a forest species, using both floor and tree habitats. Emmons and Freer (1990) affirms that Tayra inhabits tropical and subtropical forests, secondary rain forests, gallery forests, gardens, plantations, cloud forests, and dry scrub forests. Hall and Dalquest (1963) affirms that it can live near human habitations, crops and other human disturbed habitats. Usually occupies below the 1,200 m, but there are reports up to 2,400 m (Emmons and Freer, 1990; Eisenberg, 1989) and is common at 2,000 m (Gonzalez-Maya pers. comm.).
Diet of Tayras is omnivorouse, including fruits, carrion, small vertebrates, insects, and honey and small vertebrates as marsupials, rodents, iguanids among others (Cabrera and Yepes, 1960; Emmons and Freer, 1990; Galef et al. 1976; Hall and Dalquest, 1963). This species does well in agricultural areas and along the edge of human settlements.

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Tayra are found in tropical deciduous and evergreen forests, secondary growth, and plantations. The elevation of the tayra's habitat ranges from the lowlands to about 2000-2400m. Because the tayra is both terrestrial and arboreal, it has been found to live in hollow trees, burrows built by other animals, and occasionally in tall grass (Reid, 1997; Nowak, 1999).

Range elevation: 0 to 2400 m.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; rainforest ; scrub forest

Other Habitat Features: agricultural

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Trophic Strategy

Food Habits

The tayra is omnivorous. It shows a preference for small mammals, the spiny rat in particular, but it will eat whatever is available. Mammals are the most abundant part of the tayra's diet but it also eats significant amounts of fruit, invertebrates and reptiles, in that order. It has also been shown that the tayra occasionally eats honeycomb when it is available (Bisbal, 1986; McNab, 1995).

Animal Foods: mammals; reptiles; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods; mollusks

Plant Foods: fruit

Primary Diet: omnivore

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Associations

Known prey organisms

Eira barbara preys on:
Leontopithecus caissara
Sylvilagus brasiliensis

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Average lifespan

Status: captivity:
18.0 years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 22.3 years (captivity) Observations: Little is known about reproduction in this species and age at sexual maturity is based on few studies (Ernest 2003).
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Reproduction

Little is known about the tayra's reproduction. It is thought, however, that gestation lasts for about 63-70 days with a litter size of 2-3 babies per season, each weighing about 74-92 grams. Newborns open their eyes at about 35-58 days and they nurse for 2-3 months. Some believe that the estrous cycle of Eira barbara is seasonal, with births occuring in March and July. Others believe that the tayra is polyestrous and a non-seasonal breeder, experiencing an estrous cycle of around 17 days with a 2-3 day receptivity about three times a year (Nowak, 1999).

Breeding interval: Tayras probably breed once per year at most.

Range number of offspring: 2 to 3.

Range gestation period: 63 to 70 days.

Range weaning age: 2 to 3 months.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); viviparous

Average birth mass: 83 g.

Average number of offspring: 2.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)

Sex: male:
183 days.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)

Sex: female:
700 days.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Eira barbara

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2008

Assessor/s
Cuarón, A.D., Reid, F. & Helgen, K.

Reviewer/s
Duckworth, J.W. (Small Carnivore Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)

Contributor/s

Justification
This species is listed as Least Concern as although it is probably locally threatened as a result of human activity (Nowak, 2005), it is locally common throughout his entire range and occurs in a variety of natural and disturbed habitats.
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The tayra is not endangered in most of its range; in some parts of South America it is the most common carnivore due to its ability to live near humans in disturbed habitats. However, in Mexico, human spread of agriculture, loss of tropical habitat, and hunting have greatly reduced populations. The Mexican sub-species, E. b. senex, is now considered vulnerable by the IUCN (Emmons, 1990; Nowak, 1999).

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: appendix iii

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Population

Population
Eira barbara is one of the most common medium-size predators throughout its range (Emmons and Freer, 1990). Common in Central America (Janzen, 1983; Alston, 1882; Kaufmann and Kaufmann, 1965; Emmons and Freer, 1990; Reid, 1997), Colombia, Guyana, Surinam, French Guiana (Eisenberg, 1989), Venezuela (Handley, 1976), Bolivia (Anderson, 1997), Brazil (except in the caatingas and cerrado; Emmons and Freer, 1990), Paraguay, and northern Argentina (Barquez et al., 1991; Mares et al. 1989; Redford and Eisenberg, 1992). However, was not recorded in the Paraguayan Chaco during a year (1989-1990) of large mammal censuses (Brooks, 1998), despite a taxidermied specimen in the local museum (Brooks, 1991).

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Threats

Major Threats
There is not evidence about trapping or hunting of the species (Emmons and Freer 1990). Schreiber et al. (1989) reported that the range of the tayra has been reduced in portions of Mexico because of the destruction of tropical forests and spread of agriculture.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
Tayras occur in numerous protected areas. Honduras lists this species under CITES Appendix III.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Because of the close proximity of the tayra's habitat to that of humans, specifically human farmers, this species has been known to cause some damage to neighboring plantations. Eira barbara occasionally eats poultry and raids corn and sugar fields, but damage is usually minimal (Nowak, 1999).

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

It has been found that Eira barbara can be tamed, and is often used by humans as pets. The Tayra was once used by the indigenous people of the area to control rodents (Nowak, 1999).

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Wikipedia

Tayra

The tayra (Eira barbara), 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, [2] is an omnivorous animal from the weasel family Mustelidae. It is the only species in the genus Eira. There are at least nine subspecies.

Range and habitat[edit]

Tayras live in the tropical forests of Central America, South America and on the island of Trinidad.

Description[edit]

Tayras have an appearance similar to weasels and martens, growing to a size of about 60 cm (23.6 in), not including a 45 cm (17.7 in) long tail. Most tayras have either dark brown or black fur with a lighter patch on its chest. The fur on its head changes to brown or gray as it ages. Tayras grow to weigh around 5 kilograms (11 pounds), ranging from 2.7 to 7.5 kg (6-16.5 pounds).[3]

Reproduction[edit]

The tayra, unlike other Mustelidae, does not display embryonic diapause, otherwise known as delayed implantation (this reproductive strategy in other mustelids delays embryonic development and allows the female to delay birth of offspring until environmental factors are favorable). The female gives birth to 2 to 4 altricial, black-coated young.

A Tayra from above
A rare white tayra at Ipswich Museum, Ipswich, Suffolk, England

Behavior[edit]

Tayras travel both alone and in groups during both the day and the night. They are expert climbers, and can leap from treetop to treetop when pursued; they can also run fast and swim well.

Diet[edit]

Tayras eat mainly rodents, but also consume carrion, other small mammals, reptiles, birds and fruits. They live in hollow trees, burrows in the ground, or terrestrial nests made of tall grass. Tayras are opportunistic eaters, hunting rodents and invertebrates, and climbing trees to get eggs and honey. In Central Brazil they are called "Papa Mel" (honey eater). They are attracted to fruit and can be found raiding orchards.

An interesting instance of caching has been observed among tayras: a tayra will pick unripe green plantains, which are inedible, and leave them to ripen in a cache, coming back a few days later to consume the softened pulp.

Tayras and people[edit]

Tayras are playful and easily tamed. Indigenous people, who often refer to the tayra as "cabeza del viejo", or old man's head, due to their wrinkled facial skin, have kept them as household pets to control vermin. Sometimes, they attack domestic animals, such as chickens.

Conservation[edit]

Wild tayra populations are slowly shrinking, especially in Mexico, due to habitat destruction for agricultural purposes. Though the species as a whole is listed as a Least Concern species, the northernmost subspecies, Eira barbara senex, is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN.

Subspecies[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cuarón, A. D., et al. 2008. Eira barbara. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. Downloaded on 02 June 2013.
  2. ^ http://www2.ine.gob.mx/publicaciones/libros/360/yuc.html
  3. ^ Tayra

Further reading[edit]

  • Nowak, Ronald M. (2005). Walker's Carnivores of the World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. ISBN 0-8018-8032-7
  • Emmons, L.H. (1997). Neotropical Rainforest Mammals, 2nd ed. University of Chicago Press ISBN 0-226-20721-8
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