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Tayra - Eira barbara
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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The tayra as a possible predator of monkeys

One other possible carnivoran predator of New World monkeys is the tayra (Eira barbara , Mustelidae). The tayra is cathemeral (Sunquist et al., 1989; Emmons, 
1990; Presley, 2000), but its eyesight is reported to be poor (Defl er, 1980). The tayra is the only mustelid in the Neotropics that exhibits arboreality (Eisenberg, 1981), although progression is generally along the forest fl oor (Emmons, 1990). There are several reports of close encounters between tayras and ceboids. In a study of the Panamanian tamarin (S.geoffroyi) , Moynihan (1970, p. 4) relates a secondhand account of a tayra, ‘carrying a dead tamarin in its mouth’. Galef et al. (1976) suggested 
that tayras might be important predators of callitrichis and small cebids, and Hernandez-Camacho and Cooper (1976) reported a tayra being observed in rapid pursuit of a troop of tufted capuchins (C. apella) . Izawa (1978) described a foraging tayra coming dangerously close to a sleeping group of black mantled tamarins (S. nigricollis) , before it caught sight of the observer and withdrew. Defl er (1980) observed a tayra attempt an arboreal pursuit of a white fronted capuchin monkey (C. albifrons);  although the capuchin threatened the tayra (i.e. showing canines, making stare threats, branch breaking and growling), it also easily leapt away from the tayra, 
which was described as being a clumsy climber. In contrast, Redford and Eisenberg (1992) describe the tayra as an excellent climber. Compared to the fossa and felids, however, the tayra has a relatively low degree of forepaw dexterity (Iwaniuk et al., 2000), so less agility in the trees might be expected. Defl er (1980) concluded that tayras were only a minor threat to Cebus compared to predatory birds. Because 
tayras also eat fruit, Defl er [1980] further suggested that interactions between tayras and white-fronted capuchins could actually come about due to feeding competition for fruit rather than predation attempts by tayras. Terborgh (1983) considered the tayra as being capable of occasionally ambushing ground-foraging Cebus or squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sp.), but also stated no such attacks had been witnessed. More recently, Phillips (1995) observed both white-faced capuchins (C. capucinus) and mantled howler monkeys on Barro Colorado Island give ‘aggressive vocalizations’ towards a tayra; the capuchins also threatened the tayra and lunged at it, while the 
howler monkeys remained high in emergent trees, vocalizing. Stafford and Ferreira (1995) described a group of seven reintroduced golden lion tamarins (Leontopithecus rosalia) suddenly reversing their direction of travel, scattering and beginning to 
alarm call following what was apparently an unsuccessful predation attempt by a tayra in the forest subcanopy (at a height of 3–5 m); the golden lion tamarins began alarm calling only after they had retreated to a distance of approximately 10 m from 
the tayra. Because the authors sighted the tayra only after the golden lion tamarins began fl eeing, it was unclear to them whether the tayra had been lying in ambush, stalking the L. rosalia , or if it they had observed a chance encounter between the two 
species. Both the tayra and the golden lion tamarins left the area immediately after the encounter, but the golden lion tamarins continued their vocalizing for another 13 min. This report is signifi cant because there has been concern among researchers 
about the risk of tayra predation of reintroduced L. rosalia (Fernandez-Duque, pers. comm.). Asensio and Gomez-Marin (2002) observed a group of four adult tayras display aggressive behaviour towards a group of mantled howler monkeys; 2 adult female howler monkeys approached the tayras, causing the tayras to retreat. Asensio and Gomez-Marin (2002) also note that a successful predation of a primate by a tayra has not been observed (cf. Moynihan’s 1970 secondhand account, above), and they conclude that unlike the jaguar and harpy eagle, the tayra is not a serious threat to the howler monkey (see also Terborgh, 1983).
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