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Common Mammals of Reserva Las Tangaras

June 1, 2015

Although we regularly see dozens of bird species here at the reserve, mammals are more elusive. Others have seen mammals and their sign, ranging from otter to coati to even spectacled bear (tracks). While our experience with mammals here has been confined to just a handful of species, we enjoy the peculiar relationship we have with each one.

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Central American Agouti

Guatusa

Dasyprocta punctata

The agouti is certainly the most commonly seen mammal at the reserve, as it regularly ambles through the yard to graze. This red-brown rodent is slightly larger than a hare. It has small ears, a very short tail, and slender legs. Apparently agoutis are hunted and can be wary of people, but at the reserve they are very comfortable with us and often eat the over-ripe fruit that we toss to them. I write “them” because agoutis are monogamous, but a pair shares their territory. So although we only ever see one individual at a time (they are not gregarious), I believe we probably see both members of the pair.

“Mamíferos del Ecuador” says that a mother agouti digs a separate burrow for her young and calls them out to nurse. After a few weeks when they have outgrown their burrow, the female moves them to another, larger one. At four to five months old, they are able to leave the burrow to forage with their mother.

Sin título

Paca

Agouti paca

This larger, nocturnal cousin of the agouti is reddish brown but has rows of white spots on its back. We have seen a paca twice, roaming through the yard in the evening, and have caught a video of it on our game camera. “Neotropical Rainforest Animals” says that pacas are much like agoutis in that they mate in monogamous pairs and share a territory. They den up in burrows as well, and also feed on fruit, tubers, and herbaceous vegetation.

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Red-tailed Squirrel

Ardilla de Cola Roja

Sciurus granatensis

This is one of two squirrels that occur at the reserve, and is the more commonly seen one. It is brown above with a rufous underside, and bushy red tail. Like North American squirrel species, it is often heard before it can be seen, chattering admonishingly at hikers. “Neotropical Rainforest Mammals” mentions that the red-tailed squirrel feeds chiefly on nuts, fruits, and fungi. Apparently they are discerning diners: we have seen one in a firewood tree outside of the cabin picking and dropping down fruits. Each fruit only had a small nibble taken out of it, so they were presumably not ripe (or tasty) enough.

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Geoffroy’s Long-tongued Bat

Murciélago longirostro de Geoffroy

Anoura geoffroyi

Although Chiroptera is the world’s second largest order of mammals, bats are one of the most difficult species to really see. They fly rapidly through the dark, never giving one the opportunity to see more than a pair of wings. At the reserve, when we have arrived back from town in the dark on occasion, we have surprised several bats enjoying the hummingbird feeders after hours. They are quite fearless, still flying in for another sip at the feeders, even as we carry them inside. We have been able to get a few photos, allowing us to determine that one of the common bats at the reserve is Geoffroy’s long-tongued bat.

Mamíferos del Ecuador” says that this bat feeds primarily on nectar and pollen but will supplement its diet with insects and occasionally fruit. It is most commonly seen in disturbed areas. A. geoffroy can be identified by its dark fur, small triangular ears, long narrow muzzle, small triangular leaf-shaped nose, and lack of tail.

We often encounter bats on the trail when we are walking in the dark. They swoop in very close, right through the beam of our headlamps. Maybe they are catching insects that are attracted to our lights? If so, these bats could be one of a number of species. Four different families of bats occur in Ecuador: Sheath-tailed bats; Leaf-nosed bats; Mastiff or Free-tailed bats; and Vespertilionid bats. Sheath-tailed bats are aerial insectivores, as are Vespertilionid bats, and Mastiff bats. Within the Leaf-nosed bats, there are four sub-families that occur here: Spear-nosed bats are carnivorous and insectivorous; Short-tailed bats are frugivorous; Long-tongued bats feed on nectar; and Neotropical Fruit bats are, as their name implies, frugivorous.

Sources

Tirira, D. 2010. Los Mamiferos Del Ecuador.

Emmons, L. 1997. Neotropical Rainforest Mammals A Field Guide. University of Chicago Press.

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