The tayra is a weasel about the size of a medium sized dog, with a
long, bushy tail and long neck. Its head is quite large in relation
to its body and its ears are small and round. The tayra has large canine
teeth that it uses to eat a variety of small animals. It has large hind
feet with long claws. The color of its fur varies with geographic
range, but in general the tayra has a dark brown body with short, dense
fur, and a slightly paler head. On average the tayra weighs about ten
Tayras are found in tropical areas and evergreen forests. The elevation
of the tayras habitat ranges from the lowlands to about 8000 feet. Because
the tayra is both terrestrial and arboreal, it has been found living
in hollow trees, burrows built by other animals, and occasionally in
Tayras are omnivores, meaning that they eat both meat and plant food.
They are large tree climbers that will often descend to search the ground
for a variety of foods- fruit, insects, bird eggs, lizards, guinea pigs,
squirrels, agoutis, chicken, rabbits, rats, and insects. They can be
quite bold at times and are among the most frequently sighted of the
weasel family, especially when attracted to fruits. Because of their
love of eating small rodents, people often keep tayras as pets to keep
the rodents out of their gardens.
The tayra usually travels alone or in pairs. Sometimes, however, they
are seen in small groups of 3-4 individuals. It is active both day and
night, and rarely rests. The tayra is both terrestrial and arboreal.
It may leap for considerable distances, run up rocky cliffs, and bound
from branch to branch in the trees. It climbs gracefully up and down
trees, and hides in hollows in branches or in the underground burrows
of other animals which it has killed. When alarmed, the tayra gives
a short, barking call and seeks protection in the nearest tree. Although
usually silent, the tayra has been known to give yowls, snarls, or clicks
when in groups.