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For a country with around 500 mammals (claimed as the 2nd highest total in the world), and many endemics, Mexico is something of a mammal watching mystery to me. There are very few trip reports on this site, no English field guide, and I'm not aware of any tour operators running mammal focused trips here.
I first visited in 1989 and spent 8 weeks backpacking around Mexico. I don't remember seeing any mammals, though I wasn't really looking and spent a good deal of my time doubled-up in pain in the toilets of various long distance coaches.
Mark Earl Olson Zunica from the Institute of Biology at Mexico's National Autonomous University, got in touch with me about using a photo in a book and recommended the Cuixmala reserve in Jalisco as a place to visit. See his note on that reserve, and Cozumel Island here.
In January 2012 I visited the Cuixmala reserve for a week. I was looking for a place to do some work and see a few mammals on the side and Cuixmala seemed like the go. Mexico's National Autonomous University has a research station at Cuixmala. Its not open to the public but because I knew them, and offered to let them have my photographs for their research library, I was able to stay in one of the dorm rooms. A perfect place to relax, work and look for mammals.
I flew into Puerto Vallarta, a pretty town on the precipice of being ruined by mass tourism. Chamela is a two or three hours south. En route I stopped at Le Kliff restaurant just south of Puerto Vallarta for a drink in the late afternoon and a Coati was hanging around the kitchen.
I spent 5 nights at Cuixmala. It was the dry season and therefore a good time to see mammals, or so I was told. I spent most a couple of hours spotlilghting from my car most nights (outside the reserve - there aren't any roads in the station) and a bit of time looking around on foot at night too.
I didn't do a great deal in the day other than check small mammal traps and take an early morning walk for a couple of hours most days.
There is an impressive list of mammals in the station. I did not have a lot of luck finding them though. Mark Olson told me that Jaguarundis were relatively common but no one I spoke to there had seen them more than once.
The only mammals I saw during the day were the endemic Collie's Squirrels (quite common) and Coatis - I saw a large group one morning cross a steep little creek a kilometre from the station, while another was hanging around the back of the kitchen.
A colony of Grey Sac-winged Bats roost in a tunnel cut into the research station below the kitchen. I saw a Common Long-tongued bat using it as a night roost too, along with some impressively large and grotesque Whip Spiders.
Small mammal trapping was quite mixed but got a bit more productive as the week went on.
I caught nothing on the first night, and then just a single Painted Spiny Pocket Mouse on the next two nights.
On the 4th night I got several of the pocket mice along with a Marsh Deer Mouse.
On the last night I added a couple of Michoacan Deer Mice to the list (both trapped in the bat tunnel - they were easy to see, but not identify, scurrying around in the evenings there).
Other than that 10 hours or so of spotlighting by car and foot produced only a single Virginia Opposum. Its not easy to find a quiet stretch of road to go spotlighting along (especially when the gate into Chamela shuts at 9pm). But there are mammals around. I found fresh Puma shit (or I guess it could have been Jaguar) just 100 metres from the research station itself.
I also looked for Mexican Cottontails along the highway south of Chamela - near the El Careyes Hotel gate (around KM 54) where they were supposedly present. I couldn't see any.
I spent my last morning looking for dolphins on a nice trip arranged by Wildlife Connection out of Puerto Vallarta. They organise whale watching trips as well as swimming with Bottlenose Dolphins.
They see Rough-toothed Dolphins occasionally and our guide reckoned they were quite common further out, suggesting the best way to see that species was to try to get a spot on a fishing boat.
Margays in Colima and Michoacan (April 2011)
ID help wanted with Mexican mammals (March 2010)
Cuixmala and Cozumel mammals (June 2009)
Other People's Trip Reports
Central America, 2011 &12: Dominique Brugiere, combined notes on two trips through the Yucatan, Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. Lots of mammals.
Mexico City area, 2012: Vladimir Dinets and some combined detailed notes on visits in 2003 and 2012, featuring many small mammals and bats.
Mexico, 2011: Hugh Buck, a month mainly birding but with 17 mammal species.