Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, North American Mammals
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Eira barbara


Order: Carnivora
Family: Mustelidae

Image of Eira barbara
Eira barbara (Tayra), Peru
Click to enlarge. (487 kb)

Conservation Status: Least Concern.

Tayras are mostly diurnal, denning in hollow trees or burrows at night. In much of South America east of the Andes, they are the most common medium-sized predators. They hunt everything from monkeys, rats, and rabbits to birds and lizards, chasing their prey rather than ambushing it or stalking it the way cats do. Mothers teach their young to hunt by bringing them wounded birds or rodents they can catch and kill. The cubs soon learn to bite on the neck rather than the rump. By six months they are full grown and becoming skilled hunters. Tayras usually have twins.

Adults are solitary and live in many kinds of forests, crossing grassland from forest to forest at night. They do much of their hunting at dawn and dusk, when their prey is active, and forage for fruit in trees during the day. They also climb if they feel threatened on the ground. They are lucky enough to have short, coarse fur, so they are not hunted for their pelts, and live comfortably near people.

Range: Head and Body: 601-705 mm; Tail: 382-460 mm

Range: 3-6 kg


Linnaeus, C., 1758. Systema Naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classis, ordines, genera, species cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis, Tenth ed. Vol. 1. Laurentii Salvii, Stockholm, 824 pp. 1:46.


Mammal Species of the World

Distribution of Eira barbara

Image of Eira barbara
Eira barbara (Tayra), Peru
Click to enlarge. (454kb)