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Tayra - Eira barbara

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Scientific classification 
Kingdom: Animalia 
Phylum: Chordata 
Class: Mammalia 
Order: Carnivora 
Family: Mustelidae 
Subfamily: Mustelinae 
Genus: Eira
Species: Eira barbara

The tayra (Eira barbara), also known as the Tolomuco or Perico ligero in Central America, is an omnivorous animal from the weasel family Mustelidae. It is the only species in the genus Eira.

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

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Physical Description
Tayras have an appearance similar to weasels and martens, growing to a size of about 60 cm, not including a 45 cm 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).

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They eat mainly fruit, but also carrion, small mammals, reptiles, and birds. They live in hollow trees, burrows in the ground, or nests of tall grass. They travel both alone and in groups during both the day and the night. Tayras are expert climbers, and can leap from treetop to treetop when pursued. They can also run fast and swim well. Tayras will eat most anything, hunting rodents and invertebrates, and climbing trees to get eggs and honey. They are attracted to fruit and can be found raiding orchards.

The tayra, unlike other Mustelidae, does not have 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.

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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. 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.

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Found this online regarding the Tayra:

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I have taken the time to look for the alimentary habits of the tayra, it is a very rare animal and little studied in South America, for which there is not much data of its habits and customs; Here I leave the only data of their diet in South America.

Brazil  (Mato Grosso): Two feces were found and analyzed, 12 elements were found as part of their diet, 11 of these were animals and 1 was of plant matter; these categories were divided into mammals (50%), birds (16.67%), reptiles, fish, insects and seeds (8.33%); among mammals, rodents were the most frequent (45.45%), divided into Sphiggurus, proechimys, akodon, oligryzomys and euryoryzomys russatus; A marsupial (cryptonanus sp.) was also identified. The birds were identified as the family Rallidae and Passeriformes. A snake was the only identified reptile.

Belize (Cockscomb Basin Forest Reserve): Konecny analyzed 31 feces of tayra, fruits (67.7%) and arthropods (58%) were more frequent than other categories, among vertebrates were identified rodents, rattus rattus (29%), sigmodon hispidus (32.3% ) and oryzomys palustris (22.5%); a single marsupial was identified, the didelphis marsupialis (9.8%); the birds appeared with 19.4%.

observations of two biologists on the diet of tayra and a study of their diet in Venezuela.

mentioned by Azara, the traveling writer: "His diet is composed of all the small defenseless mammals he can catch, such as agoutis, rabbits, mice and cuises." He also hunts tinamou, bats and young rheas who roam the countryside, also climbs the trees of the forest and catches the birds. "

Costa Rica
In Costa Rica, a large deposit of defecations of a mother and her offspring was analyzed in Santa Rosa, Janzen describe a burrow that analyzed when the female and her offspring left her, found the skin of the Central American agouti (dasyprocta punctata), rabbit (sylvigalus sp.) and fruit seeds (malnikara zapota, ficus sp., ardisia revoluta and alibertia adulis). The feces also contained hairs of agouti and seed of the same fruits.

In Venezuela, three vertebrate species (Echimys semivillous, Rhipidomys and Iguana iguana), and four fruit species (Genipa americana, Zanthozylum culantrillo, Cuazuma tomentosa, and Psychotria anceps) were recorded. in 18 fecal samples. Both Echimys semivillous and Genipa americana were found in 50% of the studies. (Sunquist 1989).
Thanks for that information Shenzi, and welcome to Carnivora!

The tayra is mainly diurnal like the jaguarundi, but it avoids competition with this animal through feeding. While the jaguarundi feeds on a wide variety of rodents and birds, the tayra mainly consumes fruits. Konecny (1989) further reported that the diversity of prey captured by jaguarundi e tayra appeared to be highly correlated, although the rate of occurrence of prey elements in each predator's diet overlap by approximately 40%, the author recorded arthropods in the feces of the jaguarundi, 20% more than in the faeces of the tayras. The ocelot and the margay are mainly nocturnal, apart from the fact that the ocelot consumes a great diversity of prey (medium and small) and the margay consumes tree prey.

In Brazil, the tayras are mainly omnivores, which temporarily hides the competition with the ocelot, however, the tayra is mainly diurnal, possibly to avoid contact with the dominant competitors. For example, tayra was reported twice on the diet of the ocelot (São Paulo and Minas Gerais).

The main predator of the tayra is the harpy eagle, it was registered as prey of this raptor in Argentina, Brazil, Peru and French Guiana. They have been found sporadically in the fecal matter of pumas and jaguars in Brazil.

group of tayras attacks ocelot in Costa Rica

Tayras and Yellow-throated Martens are the only "Weasels" that I know of that attack and travel in groups. I remember a paper claiming that there once were a group of 20 Tayras, tho they could just all have been on the same feeding ground from different groups.
(08-10-2018, 08:37 PM)Ryo Wrote: [ -> ]Tayras and Yellow-throated Martens are the only "Weasels" that I know of that attack and travel in groups. I remember a paper claiming that there once were a group of 20 Tayras, tho they could just all have been on the same feeding ground from different groups.

I believe that the tayra was forced to live in family groups due to the number of predators that compete with her (although a group of 20 have not been observed, groups of 5 tayras have been observed in Argentina). For example, in the Yungas de Jujuy (Argentina), there are a lot of mesopredators
-Leopardus pardalis
-Leopardus wiedii
-Leopardus tigrinus
-Leopardus geoffoyi
-Leopardus colocolo
-Herpailirus yaguarundi
-Lycalopex gymnocercus
-Cerdocyon thous
-Conepatus chinga
-Galictis cuja
Without counting possible predators like the puma and the jaguar.
Tayra vs tayra in Perú and Costa Rica 

Tayra attack honeybees 

Youngs tayras attack iguana 

Green Iguanas are the largest lizards in Central America, reaching a total length of 2 m and a weight of 4 kg (Savage, 2002). These herbivorous and frugivorous lizards are ecologically plastic and fairly abundant in their habitats, and their large size and active foraging behavior make them easy to locate by predators. Many mammal, bird, and reptile species prey on the eggs and different age classes of I. iguana (Greene et al., 1978), and this lizard also an important dietary component of many human communities (Savage, 2002). On 13 December 2008, one of us (RO) witnessed a predation attempt by two Tayras, Eira barbara (Mammalia: Mustelidae), on an I. iguana at Earth University, Provincia de Limón, Costa Rica (10º12'49"N, 83º35'12"W; WGS 84), elev. 40 m. An adult male I. iguana had jumped or fallen from a tree, and quickly was pursued by two young E. barbara. The mustelids evidently were attracted by the sound of the falling animal, and chased the iguana for about 20 m until they cornered it along a creek (Fig. 1). At first, the Eira seemed puzzled as to what to do with the large reptile, but eventually one of them bit the lizard on the head and neck (Fig. 2), and soon after the other began to concentrate on the tail (Fig. 3). Excited from the chase, and perhaps stimulated by the taste (or scent) of blood, the Tayras began to make guttural noises and appeared to lose interest in their surroundings. The trio struggled for a while, partially in the water, but at a certain point the Iguana liberated itself and with a burst of speed escaped, as the young Eira appeared confused. The photographs were taken by RO ca. 10 m from the scene, and at times the Eira acknowledged his presence by exposing their teeth and growling. The episode lasted about 10 minutes.
Galef et al. (1976) reported on a predation event involving an adult Tayra and a Green Iguana at Barro 
Colorado Island, Panama. In eastern Colombia, Tayras are known to hunt in pairs around the base of large trees, and to attack Boa constrictor of considerable size (Defler, 1980).

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Predation attempt and abnormal coat coloration of the tayra (Eira barbara) in the Brazilian Central Amazon.

Predation is one of the most important interactions between species and a major selection pressure in wild mammal populations. Camouflage is a common pattern of colorations resulting from predation pressure, however, atypical coloration may appear in the wild. Both predation and atypical coloration in mammal species are difficult to observe in a natural setting but contain important biological information. Here we describe a leucistic tayra (Eira barbara) attempting to prey on a sloth (Bradypus tridactylus). The event occurred in Brazilian Central Amazon as a tayra unsuccessfully tried to kill an adult sloth in the mid-canopy of a secondary forest.

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Figure 1. Image sequence of Bradypus tridactylus being attacked by the Eira barbara with abnormal coat coloration (a–c) and (d) detail of the individual of B. tridactylus that was attacked

At 09:55 h on 25 June 2014, one tayra of normal coloration was seen moving vertically on a tree trunk at a distance of about 10 m from researchers. The animal entered the forest and remained out of view. After following this tayra, we detected another one with cream coloration attacking a male three-toed sloth. Photos revealed that it was an adult female. It came through the higher stratum of the tree where the sloth was and bit it on the back of its neck. The sloth slowly tried to counter-attack with its claws. Both animals were in a vine tangle 5 m above the ground. After 10 minutes of fighting, the tayra noticed the observers and dropped to the forest floor, maintaining a distance of about 3 m from the observers. The tayra returned to the sloth and started attacking it again. After several minutes, the tayra climbed to the top of a tree about 4 m from the sloth and started vocalizing a quiet low pitched sound. Another animal with a darker color (probably the first tayra seen) ran after the yellow tayra, which left the sloth in the vine tangle. At 10:12 h the interaction had finished. The sloth survived and remained in the same place until 11:30 h, at which time the observers left the location. The sloth had a small injury near its right eye and the back of its neck was wet, although we could not tell if it was the tayra’s saliva or the sloth’s blood.[/i]


[i]Predation by the tayra on the common marmoset and the pale-throated three-toed sloth.
Predation on arboreal mammals is rarely observed in the wild. Here we describe the first confirmed observations of predation Predation on arboreal mammals is rarely observed in the wild. Here we describe the first confirmed observations of predation on a juvenile wild common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) and on a neonate wild pale-throated three-toed sloth (Bradypus tridactylus) by the mustelid carnivore Eira barbara, the tayra. We discuss predation on both of the prey species and review the nature of predation by the tayra. on a juvenile wild common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) and on a neonate wild pale-throated three-toed sloth (Bradypus tridactylus) by the mustelid carnivore Eira barbara, the tayra. We discuss predation on both of the prey species and review the nature of predation by the tayra.

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[i]Fig. 1 Figure showing (a) the lower venter, (b) the injured head of the preyed-upon neonate sloth, and © the umbilical cord of the female sloth[/i]
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Image 1: snake unidentified (Brazil)
Image 2: dasyprocta azarae (Brazil)
Image 3: iguana iguana (Ecuador)
Image 4: iguana iguana (Costa Rica)
tayra predator the chicks of birds of prey?

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In the photo you can see a tayra in a nest of Spizaetus isidori, taken in the yungas of Jujuy (Argentina); the biologist says the following: "this impressive predator has climbed without problems to the nest of eagles that is 15 m high, the tayra could be looking for remains of corpses or directly to the eagle chicks to feed. The eagles were not visiting the nest in those dates.No doubt, the tayra must be one of the most formidable predators facing the eagle in Argentina.

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The other image shows a tayra (Eira barbara) aggressively confronting a pair of harpy eagles in courtship. The eagles left the nest, but the tayra retired soon after. Probably the tayra was looking for carrion, also it is probable that it looked for the chick of the eagle.

A. F. Skutch tells how a tayra kills a hawk chick (Herpetotheres cachinnans): "One afternoon, a tolomuco (Eira barbara) climbed the trunk; before I could scare her away, this great weasel killed the pigeon, however, I frightened her before I could eat it. Returning to its nest after an interval, the mother who had seen the mammal ascend to its nest unable to help, devoured her chick before her companion returned with the snake in the afternoon.
Occurrence of leucism in Eira barbara(Carnivora, Mustelidae) in Brazil

The occurrence of anomalous coloration (albinism, leucism and melanism) in mammals is a rare phenomenon in nature, but this phenomenon has been reported for several species of mammals. In this study, we report on the occurrence of leucism in Eira barbara by examining three road-killed individuals and two sightings of live animals in Reserva Particular do Patrimônio Natural Santuário do Caraça, southeastern Brazil. In addition, we examined tayra specimens housed in mammal collections from Brazil and USA. The animals found dead and those sighted had a whitish yellow fur on the body and head, resulting in lighter coloration than the coloring pattern commonly observed in tayras. Despite these lighter color pattern, the specimens showed parts of soft tissue, such as iris and the skin, with pigmentation very similar to that present in individuals with the typical color pattern. This set of factors indicates the specimens recorded were in fact leucistic and not albino. Among the specimens examined in the scientific collections, we found nine individuals from different localities that presented the whitish yellow color pattern. Some studies attribute the higher frequency of cases of leucism due to small populations and / or with some mechanism of reproductive isolation. Thus, analysis of the genetic variability of populations containing individuals with such characteristics should be considered. On the other hand, the occurrence of polymorphic color phenotype in tayras indicates that hypotheses related to the fixation of recessive characteristics, or on possible environmental adaptive advantages of these phenotypes can be tested.

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Figure 1 Eira barbara specimens with a yellow-whitish color recorded at R.P.P.N. Santuário do Caraça, Minas Gerais, Brazil. A. Female found dead in the road. Voucher number: MCNM 2981, registration date: 11/01/2009. B. Male found dead in the road. Voucher number: MCNM 3012, registration date: 02/22/2009. C. Male collected in the Municipality of Belo Vale, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Voucher number: MCNM 1915, registration date: 21/01/2011; this specimen was used in this study to represent the default color of the species E. barbara in the state of Minas Gerais. D. Eira barbara specimen found dead in the road. Registration date: 06/12/2009. E. Male recorded living at R.P.P.N., registration date: 07/17/2012. F. Individual recorded living at R.P.P.N., date of registration: 03/2016. 

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Figure 2 Eira barbara specimens with a yellow-whitish color recorded at Oriximiná, state of Pará, Brazil. A. Male collected in Rio Trombetas. Voucher number: MPEG: 9210, registration date: 15/07/1978. B. Female collected in Cachoeira Porteira. Voucher number: MPEG: 10013, registration date: 04/04/1977. C. Male collected in Cachoeira Porteira. Voucher number: MPEG: 10014. Registration date: 26/07/1978. D. no biological data, individual collected in Porto Trombetas, Voucher number: 10223, no date. E. Male collected in Porto Trombetas. Voucher number: UFMG: 2981, registration date: 11/2007.

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Figure 3 Eira barbara specimens with a yellow-whitish color in Brazil. A. Female collected in Boiuçú, state of Pará. Voucher number: MZUSP: 5186, registration date: 26/04/1965. B. Female collected at Jardim Público of São Paulo (current known as Parque da Luz), but of unknown origin, state of São Paulo. Voucher number: MZUSP: 2061, registration date: 11/1905. C. Male collected at Jardim Público of São Paulo (current Parque da Luz), but of unknown origin, state of São Paulo. Voucher number: MZUSP: 2062, registration date: 12/1905. D. Individual collected in Iporanga, in the state of São Paulo. Voucher number: MZUSP: 6295, registration date: 28/01/1944. E. Male collected in Corupa, in the state of Santa Catarina. Voucher number: MZUSP: 441, registration date: 1901 year. This specimen was used in this study to represent the default of a very old skin presenting the common color pattern for E. barbara.

complete information:
Throat Patch Variation in Tayra (Eira barbara) and the Potential for Individual Identification in the Field

The importance of identifying individuals of a population has been extensively documented in several species of carnivores, including some species of mustelids. This information is used in many kinds of ecological studies including density estimation, behavioral ecology and analyses of animal movement patterns. The objective of the present study was to determine if individual variation in the throat patches of Tayra (Eira barbara) permits individual identification. We examined 275 specimens from museum collections to determine the morphological variation of the throat patch in Eira barbara specimens collected throughout its distribution. We found differences in the shape and size of the throat patches significant enough to allow discrimination of individuals that display a throat patch (88.0% of 252 complete specimens). The proposed identification criterion was applied to photographic records obtained from a wild population using camera traps in the Peruvian Amazon. From nineteen images (54.0% of all images) in which the throat patch was visible, nine different individuals were identified and two of these were recaptured on multiple occasions.

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Comparison of the throat patch of the nine (a-i) uniquely identifiable individuals. Note that both the frontal (a-d) and lateral images (e-i) can be used to differentiate among individuals. Note: The pictures were taken with camera traps during 2008, producing low resolution photographs. Some tayras were photographed in motion, for that reason some photographs are not in focus.

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Specimens of E. b. poliocephala, the throat patch extends through one or both shoulders. In the last two cases, the throat patches do not connect with the back patch; (b) Live specimen of E. b. poliocephala (Villafañe-Trujillo ® ), the throat patch extends through shoulders and back, the shape of the patch is different in each flank: right side (upper image) and left side (lower image). 

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Photographs of the 73 museum specimens of Eira barbara examined, showing the differences in shape and size of the throat patches. The letters indicate the name of the Zoological Collection to which the specimen belongs: A = AMNH; S = NMNH-Smithsonian Institution, and MX = Zoological Collections of Mexico. 

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Records of Eira barbara in the Peruvian Amazon.

I have not seen this in another mustelid, it is impressive the different colors they have.
It is a very nice article, I recommend that you read it if you are interested in this species
Attempted predation on Brazilian rabbit (Sylvilagus brasiliensis - Lagomorpha: Leporidae) by tayra (Eira barbara - Carnivora: Mustelidae)

The tayra Eira barbara (Linnaeus, 1758) is a very common neotropical mustelid with a wide distribution. Although it usually lives in undisturbed primary forest it also occurs in disturbed habitats (Emmons and Feer 1997). I report here an observation of attempted predation by a tayra in the western Amazon, in Acre, Brazil.

The observation occurred about 25 km from the city of Rio Branco at Fazenda Experimental Catuaba (10º4’S and 67º37’W), with 820 ha of disturbed forest.

At 8:45 a.m. on 04 June 1998, I observed an adult Brazilian rabbit Sylvilagus brasiliensis (Linnaeus, 1758), running across the trail at a distance of about 4 m from the observing point. Five behind the Brazilian rabbit an adult of Eira barbara came running in pursuit but retreated with observer presence. The local forest has a open canopy, there are many palms and the understory is closed.

Sylvilagus brasiliensis are nocturnal animals, and tayras are primarily diurnal (Emmons and Feer 1997). This could explain why it is hardly cited in literature as being part of the diet of tayras. Therefore, more research is necessary to affirm Sylvilagus brasiliensis as accidental item food in diet of Eira barbara
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