Question to Neotropical Mammal watchers about Tayra and Margay

Hi everyone,

I’m just wondering – what’s the best place in Latin america to see these two species? I know neither one is usually a guarantee, and margays are especially uncommon in general. But from reports and experience it looks like almost every species has a hot spot.. If Jon Hall was able to find an Andean Tapir and Spectacled Bears on 2 consecutive days, I believe everything is possible πŸ˜‰

Thanks in advance for the feedback!



  • Jon Hall

    Hi Tomer, I’ve seen neither species but Brazil is probably the best country. I believe there are areas of the Pantanal – some eco ranch which you fly into – where people see 3 or 4 Tayras a day. Margays are possible there too but more difficult.

    Caratinga NP in Brazil – there are Tayras there and also there were some researchers working on Margays too a couple of years ago. Not sure if they are still there.

    THere was also a post on this blog from April 2011 about Margays in Mexico. I’m in Nepal (saw a Red Panda at the weekend) and the internet is so slow I can’t find it easily but I am sure you can find it.

    Oh and I had a day in between my bear and Tapir!



  • vdinets

    The first (going upstream) ranger station in Manu National Park used to have resident tayras that would show up at least once a day, but I don’t know if they are still around.

    • heavenlyjane

      Decades ago, I lived in Central Panama , near Lake Gatun, and saw tayras routinely (ie, once s month when doing night hikes). Margays were much more secretive; only saw one once the whole year I was there..

  • Greg Easton

    I saw a tayra on a day hike north of the la leona ranger station in Corcovado np in costa rica, but I don’t know ow common they are there

  • tomeslice

    Thanks for the replies, guys!

    Jon congrats on the red panda!!! THe number of exciting species you have yet to encounter keeps decreasing rapidly.. You will be the one to rediscover the Thylacine…
    I will have to do some reserach to find out which ranch has such high success with this species. If it comes back to you, feel free to write me πŸ™‚
    About the margay – I found your link to the forum, it was from March 2011, but for some reason that forum only goes back a few months to Feb. 2012. But I’ll do some more research about that too.

    About Manu – Oh, so many mixed feelings about that awesome place which I visited in 2007 when I was 22 and didn’t know about I think you are referring to Limonal station in the entrance to the national park. I was there twice, both on the way in and on the way out, and didn’t see a tayra. But also I don’t think my guide knew aobut it or tried super hard to look for it. He was a good guide, don’t get me wrong, but I now realize that when you have to cater to 10 participants from different backgrounds and different interests you can’t really concentrate 100% on finding small mammals that don’t make a huge difference to the overall experience of some of the visitors.
    I wonder if there are any mammal-focused trips to this amazing biosphere. Because as far as I know, current tours to Manu just stop at the station to sign in and out, and don’t really go there at any specific time to find a tayra. I also read about a tayra that frequents Wasaii Tambopata lodge every day at the banana plantation, and I was there for 2 nights in 2004 and didn’t see it, nor did I hear of it πŸ™ Maybe I just have a bad luck with Tayras.

    Panama definitely sounds interesting, but with once a month sighting I wouldn’t have good chances if I went for a week…

    As far as Corcovado goes – I think you were pretty lucky! During my “3 day”/2night trip from Drake bay to Sirena I only heard of 1 group of 3 participants who have seen a tayra, and my guide (Rebeca Quirros) who was phenomenal in finding mammals and birds in all kinds of places I wouldn’t even think to look, mentioned that she hasn’t see one for almost 2 months. Maybe they are more frequent near La Leona. I was actually a bit disappointed that throughout all the time I spent in the field in CR I didn’t see a tayra.

    I also read on the Field Herp forum that Tikal is a good place to see Tayras. From personal experience and research I don’t think that’s the case. I hired Lois Oliveros who is arguably on of the best naturalist/bird watching guide in Tikal and who is out in the field 100% of his non-sleeping time, including at night at pre-dawn at the request of the customer. He knew exactly where to go and what sounds to make to find a kinkajou (which I didn’t see, and that’s a whole nother story), but he doesn’t see tamandua or tayra on any sort of regular bases.

    Sounds like either at the pantanal you have the best chances, or in Manu if you are up-to-date on current places of frequent visit, you probably have a good chance. I’m still struggling with the margay. The most information I find about where to find it is on Vladimir’s website. I’m still waiting for an invite to go wait in trees or swim in rivers in Mexico or Honduras to find margays πŸ™‚ Just kidding. But another person who is a good resource is Dominique Bugiere who I wish participated more often in these discussions.. He saw 4 cat species in the pantanal, including the margay which he saw spot-lighting by foot alone at night, which I never have the balls to walk around alone at night for too long along roads in third-world countries.. I really want to see a margay but I don’t want to have any bad encounters.

  • Alan

    Hi Tomes…these are tough species to see. We saw our first Tayra (really briefly) on the Osa peninsula last May. I agree that the Pantanal should be a good place. You may want to look at Chan Chich in Belize for Marguays. They are VERY hard to spot anywhere but Chan Chich has 4 other cat species to be on the lookout for if no Marguays show us (we have seen Ocelot there twice). Keep us posted on what your research uncovers since we may follow in your footsteps…

  • Jason L

    I was birding in Ecuador several months ago at WildSumaco in the eastern foothills. The owners told me they had a researcher set up camera traps. They were told that margay was more common than normal there, but that’s all I know. Tayra is also in the area as well as Napo Tamarin, but I missed all three.

  • tomeslice

    Alan, that’s awesome that you saw a tayra! Did you see it at Bosque? I was thinking of sending Phil an email and ask him about what is the best time to come down. There are definitely some speicies that are good to photograph there, and it’s a good puma place among other things including some birds.

    Jason, that is particularly interesting. I wonder how abnormally common they are there. There are so many interesting amazonian lodges from Peru, ecuador, columbia to brazil and the guyanas, that one day (maybe in my 40s…) I will do a 2-3 month trip to 12-15 of the particularly good ones.. I wil have to look into that. It’s interesting that margay would be particualrly abundant there.

    • Alan

      Yes, the Tayra was at Bosque. I hear about sightings from time to time but they are far from common. The dry season Dec to Mar seems to be the best time for pumas there. Our last two trips were in May (which is a better time for herps). Other than the Tayra and some spinner dolphins we had no new mammals our last trip.

  • Curtis Hart

    I saw a Tayra at Tikal in Feb of ’03. I talked to other people who saw them as well. I too have heard it is not a sure thing at this point though.


  • tomeslice

    That’s awesome that you saw a tayra there! Seems like there’s always something new to discover at bosque – it’s like the perfect primary forest habitat minus the inconvinience of jungle lodges. I could probably live there! Lol.

    Curtis I wonder if things have changed since 2003. I was there in Dec. 2008 and I did not get the sense that Tayra is a lot more common there than any of the cats or a tapir.. I wonder if the other people actually saw it, or did they get confused with other animals like coatis.. Were they common visitors or birders/mammal watchers/herpers? I had a night tour there, where Lois took us to a watering hole where we waited and turned off our flashlights but nothing tuned up. Then we hiked through some secondary forest (old airstrip) then to a patch that’s frequently visited by kinkajous where he called one but I didn’t see because by the time it showed up and we started getting defecated on by spider monkeys my parents got frustrated and wanted to leave because it was almost 9 which is when dinner stops back at the lodge. Then I walked pre-dawn with a ranger and we didn’t see anything besides yucatan howlers which we saw later on during the day. The other thing is, if you look on flickr or the likes, you don’t see pictures of tayras from Tikal. You see a lot of birds, and coatis, monkeys and even foxes. But there’s only 1 picture of a tayra from there. Unlike, if you look at people’s pictures from Corcovado in CR, you see plenty of anteaters and tapirs, and even pumas, which suggests that these animals can be seen there rather frequently.

    But anyway, I apprecite all the replies! It seems like everyone lucked out on a tayra somewhere through their travels, besides me… Eventually I’ll have to hit up the pantanal again, and look up a specific ranch where specific mammals are common that I haven’t seen. I was doing some research on another interesting species, Speothos Venaticus, which apparently is found a few-to-several times a week in one of the private ranches in the pantanal, where a behavioral study was conducted on them. But I can’t seem to remember or find which ranch.. This would be a definite target for me.

    • Curtis Hart

      The other people that saw them were only passingly into wildlife, they didn’t know what they were, and they had pictures of 2 different tayras on their cameras.

      • tomeslice

        Curtis, that is strange! Maybe in 2003 they were much more common. Or maybe I just didn’t have luck. But despite hiring a native Tikalian (he was born in the park and lived there back when there was an operating school there, etc.) and searching for that species I didn’t see one πŸ™
        He also took us to some of the more remote ruins, like Complejo Q and R, which are ralatively unvisited. Do u remember where you saw it, and where the other guys saw it? Were you with a guide or alone?

  • Phil Davison

    Probably not much help to you, but another place where it is possible to chance upon a Tayra is Iguazu, Argentina – we found one in the middle of the day on the trail that leads to the ‘swimming pool’, in Oct 2008. Interestingly it was on the ground beneath a group of capuchin monkeys – whether this was merely coincidence, or it was actively following the monkeys to take food knocked down or disturbed by them, was impossible to tell. But it might be worth keeping an eye on the ground under troops of monkeys!

    • tomeslice

      Ha, this would also go under the category “places I have been and failed to see a tayra” along with just about every place mentioned here besides Ecuadorean amazon and panama. Lol. But it would also be filed under the category of “places I went with my parents when I was younger and didn’t know about” so I didn’t have very much info or knowledge, though we did walk on the trail that leads to the swimming hole near the waterfall on the Argentinian side, and it was about 9-10am when we started our walk. But we managed to not see any mammals or interesting birds during our 3 days in the iguazu area besides Brazilian cavy and South American coatis that walked around the park somewhat tamely.

  • Coke Smith

    I saw “Tayra” Banks once….

    • tomeslice

      Lol. I think it’s Tyra Banks… But that’s also an impressive sighting, considering it’s a critically endangered mammal (only 1 specimen in existance)

      On another note that’s awesome that everyone is sharing their success stories with tayras… Makes me feel very unlucky. Just kidding. It’s some good info. Did anyone stumble upon the pantanal ranch or ranches where they’re seen a few times every day?

      Completely unrelated, I did some research on the bush dog, it turns out in the northern pantanal at SESC Pantanal private reserve, 20km north of Nova Xavantina, it’s “more common” than in other places, but I don’t know how much more common… PS this is not in the regular touristy area off the transpantaneira. It’s like a 7 hour drive from Cuiaba, mostly east and a little north.

  • jurek

    I saw one Tayra at midday under a fruiting tree in Rio Grande and another crossing the road at dusk at Hato Pinero, both Venezuela.

  • tomeslice

    PS since we’re on the topic already (sorry I know I already posted a response today, but this just came to mind), here are a few more places to add onto what other people have mentioned, where tayras, at least at one point, were being seen regularly:
    Wasai Tambopata Lodge (I already mentioned): Near the soccer field, at the banana plantation, every day(?)
    Cock-of-the-rock Lodge Peru: At the fruit birdfeeder, frequently?
    La Paz Waterfall Garden Costa Rica: At the fruit feeder, at least a few times in the past?
    Arenal Observatory Lodge: Fruit birdfeeder, almost daily, but stopped about 2-3 years ago….

    THat’s where I’ve heard, in addition to all the places everyone else contributed, but again, I’ve been to each of these places and never seen one πŸ™

  • John Pilgrim

    I saw Tayra three times in ten days along the pipeline road near Gamboa in Panama in September last year – it’s a great area for wildlife. I also saw Tamandua, Northern Naked-tailed Armadillo, Neotropical Otter, Bushy-tailed Olingo, Mantled Howler, Agouti & Red Brocket in this time (though I was mainly birding).

    • tomeslice

      Yet another place where I’ve been and not seen one.. Just like all the other places mentioned above. Lol. But in my defense, I had about an hour and a half there, right in the middle of the day, in which time I did manage to see a pair of agoutis, 3-toed sloth, mantled howlers, my first EVER trogon – slaty-tailed (this was when I was a little bit younger.. we’re talking about 2004. haha), my first keel-billed toucan, and some other birds. But I did hear about this place being very good for birds and mammals. I will definitely have to check out Panama some time for more than a 24-hour layover.

  • Jo Dale

    Hello, new to this forum. We saw a group of three Tayras on the Transpantaneira Highway in the Pantanal. We also saw Jaguarundi and Ocelot on a night drive. My trip report has details here:

    Tayra Pic:

    Haven’t seen a Margay though.

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