The Robinson Library >> Science >> Zoology >> Mammals >> Order Carnivora >> Family Mustelidae

[tA' ruh] Eira barbara


This member of the weasel family grows to a length of about 30 inches, not counting a long, bushy tail that can be almost as long as the body. It has large hind feet, long claws and pronounced canines, and can weigh as much as 13 pounds. The body color is generally dark brown with a slightly paler head, but geographic variations exist; there is almost always a white, diamond-shaped patch on the throat.


Distribution and Habitat

The tayra is native to the neotropical deciduous and evergreen forests of Central and South America and the island of Trinidad, up to elevations of about 7,900 feet.

range of the tayra

Habits and Behaviors

Tayras are equally at home both on the ground and in trees. Although they tend to look somewhat awkward when walking, they are excellent climbers and swimmers and can leap considerable distances. They are active at any time of the day and seldom seem to rest. In the wild, tayras are almost always seen alone or in pairs, but small groups of up to six or so have also been seen. Tayras are usually quiet but do yowl, snarl and click when in groups. When alarmed, a tayra gives a hort, barking call and then seeks protection in a tree.


Small mammals account for the majority of the tayra's diet, but fruits, invertebrates, reptiles and honeycombs (in that order) are also taken.


It is believed that tayras only breed once a year, but no specific mating season has ever been determined. Gestation takes 63-70 days, after which two or three offspring are born. How the young are cared for in the wild is unknown, but those in captivity are weaned by three months of age and reach sexual maturity at about six months.

Scientific Classification

phylum Chordata
subphylum Vertebrata
class Mammalia
order Carnivora
family Mustelidae
genus & species Eira barbara

Animal Diversity Web

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The Robinson Library >> Science >> Zoology >> Mammals >> Order Carnivora >> Family Mustelidae

This page was last updated on June 12, 2017.