JANUARY 29, 2022
YOUR WEEKLY DOSE OF WOWZERS AND WONDER FROM THE NATURAL WORLD
This week, we’re venturing into the forests of Central and South America.
But to catch of glimpse of our special guest, you’ll need to be quick!
These critters are exceptional climbers, and are small enough to hide just about anywhere.
So keep your eyes peeled as we explore the world of the tayra!
Tayras are mainly found in Honduras, Brazil, Costa Rica, and the Yucatan Peninsula.
They prefer tropical and subtropical forests since those environments provide a variety of food options, lots of hollow logs to live in, and plenty of trees to climb.
As as part of the weasel family, these long, lithe creatures can reach 28in long, not including their 18in tail.
They can weigh anywhere from 6 to 15.5 lbs.
The tayra’s toes and claws aren’t meant for digging like some other small animals.
Instead, their paws are designed to help them climb, swim, and run with great speed, allowing them to escape predators and ambush potential snacks.
As omnivores, tayras are just as likely to chow down on fruits or berries as they are to catch a spiny rat (one of their favourite treats), small lizards, or even bugs!
Most tayras are covered in brown or black fur. However, albinism is becoming increasingly common, resulting in more frequent yellowish or white coats.
Regardless of their colour, they’ll often have a small triangular patch of lighter fur on their chest.
Tayras are typically diurnal, which means are active during the day and rest at night, just like us!
Despite being out and about in broad daylight, they’re not particularly social.
Most will live solitary lives, opting to meet other tayras only when it’s time to mate.
In the rare times that small groups of tayras were observed, researchers found that they communicated with a mix of yowls, snarls, and clicks.
Baby tayras, known as kits ,are typically born in litters of two or three.
For the first 1 to 2 months of their lives, their eyes and ears remain closed, making them completely blind and deaf.
They’ll spend roughly 6 to 10 months under the care of their moms.
During this time, they’ll learn how to hunt and hide before venturing off to claim their own territory.
Their territories can be quite vast for such small creatures.
It’s estimated that a tayra will travel at least 6 km every day and patrol a range of around 24 square kilometres.
While tayras aren’t particularly well known in other parts of the world, and finding them in zoos can be tricky, they’re currently listed as a Least Concern animal due to their thriving populations.
Tayras love plantains! They’ll pick unripe ones and hide them in their dens to wait for them to ripen.
Indigenous people of Central and South America historically used tayras for rodent control, allowing them to stay in their villages and even keeping them as pets in exchange for their services.
While tayras mostly eat meat, they like the occasional sweet treat and are known to break open beehives to get at the sweet honeycomb within.
When we say tayras like to climb, we’re not kidding. They’re known to scale tree trunks that are more than 130 feet tall with ease!
Some cool stuff from around the web we think you and your kids will enjoy.
See how a dust mite’s pollen-sized poop could be why you can’t stop sneezing.
Journey to the Microcosmos | YouTube
Curious Creatures on Camera
Check out these amazing shots captured under the bird feeder of Carla Rhodes.
Who knew that something as simple as snapping your fingers could be so Wowzerful?!
Science News for Students
There’s nothing cuter than these four capybara babies who live at the Berlin Zoological Gardens.
ZooBorns | Youtube
— Steven Magee
What do you call a thieving alligator?
Today’s email was written by Joshua J. with contributions by Geoff W. and Branden S.
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