Doing a little (ok, very LONG) slide show on Cristalino Jungle Lodge last night for a group of bug-interested friends was a great way to relive some of the exciting moments during my 10 weeks as a local guide there last year.
One of the more thrilling events came as a blur of commotion in the rainforest understory near the Saleiro. Normally the forest is a very quiet place, with the occasional bird song overhead and the often a drone of cicadas. This commotion involved squealing, something running in the leaf littler, and branches moving, and my heart was pounding. I looked up to see a Tayra running towards me then run up a tree, and something behind it on the ground. I focused the camera through the branches and snapped this shot. (Don't forget you can click on the photo for a larger image.) Tayras are large weasels, widespread in the American tropics.
Then I saw what was on the ground – this adult Red-rumped Agouti, very agitated, stomping, darting around, but not in any hurry to get out of there.
Then I saw some movement in the background, and a second Tayra hopped onto a low log and began pacing back and forth.
Only after I saw that the first Tayra had a baby agouti in its grip did I realize that the adult agouti was trying to chase them away from its nest. I wondered if it had any more to defend but never found out. Once the Tayras realized I was there, they quickly melted into the jungle. I saw Tayras only two other times during my 10 weeks at Cristalino, making it perhaps the commonest forest predator in the region, though they frequently dine on fruit. I've seen them eat Cecropia fruits up high in trees as well as nab bananas from bird feeders.