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Tayra (Eira barbara)

  • Tayra (Eira barbara)

    Common Name/s: Tayra  
    Scientific name: Eira barbara
    Brazilian common name/s: Irara, papa-mel

    Quick facts (average values with minimum and maximum in parenthesis)

    Body length (cm): (55-71)a Tail (cm):  (36-46) a Diet: Omnivorous
    Weight (kg): (2.7-7) a Height (cm):  Home range (km2):  c
    Litter size: 2(1-3) b Gestation (days): (63-67) b Longevity (years): 
    Social structure:
    Activity pattern: Diurnal and crepuscular a

    a (Emmons & Feer 1997), b (Presley 2000), c (Michalski et al. 2006)

    Physical description
    The coat is short and thick, with dark brown to black colouration along the whole body and light brown or gray on the head and neck. The throat and chest have a distinctive yellow to orange patch of fur. The ears are short and rounded. It has a long body, slightly arched back, short legs and a long tail. Has great agility and can swim, run and climb trees

    Habitat and Ecology
    It occurs from the tropical coastal region of Mexico to northern Argentina. It inhabits a variety of habitats but is usually associated with areas of dense forest vegetation (Goulart et al. 2009; Presley 2000), where it rests in hollow trees. It is predominantly active in the daytime, with occasional night time activity. It is predominantly solitary, but may also be seen in pairs (Emmons & Feer 1997).
    It has a mixed diet of vertebrates (including juvenile monkeys and sloths, small rodents, birds, lizards), insects, fruit and honey (Bezerra et al. 2009; Camargo & Ferrari 2007; Presley 2000). The scientific name (Eira barbara), and Brazilian common name (Irara – origin from the Tupi-Guarani tribe), means honey eater and their omnivorous diet and sweet tooth means they are well known in rural areas for preferring papaya to chickens (F. Michalski unpublished data).

    Threats and Conservation
    Classified by the IUCN as least concern and they appear to be resilient to the effects of forest fragmentation (Michalski & Peres 2005; Michalski & Peres 2007), however forest destruction remains the main threat to this species (Cuarón et al. 2008).

    Online links
    IUCN redlist ( presents a summary of current knowledge on distribution and conservation status

    Bezerra, B. M., Barnett, A. A., Souto, A., & Jones, G. (2009). Predation by the tayra on the common marmoset and the pale-throated three-toed sloth. Journal of Ethology, 27, 91-96.

    Camargo, C. C., & Ferrari, S. F. (2007). Interactions between tayras (Eira barbara) and red-handed howlers (Alouatta belzebul) in eastern Amazonia. Primates, 48, 147-150.

    Cuarón, A. D., Reid, F., & Helgen, K. (2008). Eira barbara. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.2, <>, Downloaded on 06 July 2010.

    Emmons, L. H., & Feer, F. (1997). Neotropical rainforest mammals: a field guide. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Goulart, F. V. B., Caceres, N. C., Graipel, M. E., Tortato, M. A., Ghizoni, I. R., & Oliveira-Santos, L. R. (2009). Habitat selection by large mammals in a southern Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Mammalian Biology, 74, 184-192.

    Michalski, F., & Peres, C. A. (2005). Anthropogenic determinants of primate and carnivore local extinctions in a fragmented forest landscape of southern Amazonia. Biological Conservation, 124, 383-396.

    Michalski, F., & Peres, C. A. (2007). Disturbance-mediated mammal persistence and abundance-area relationships in Amazonian forest fragments. Conservation Biology, 21, 1626–1640.

    Michalski, F., Crawshaw, P. G., de Oliveira, T. G., & Fabian, M. E. (2006). Notes on home range and habitat use of three small carnivore species in a disturbed vegetation mosaic of southeastern Brazil. Mammalia, 70, 52-57.

    Presley, S. J. (2000). Eira barbara. Mammalian Species, 636, 1-6.

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