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A Break from Bird Blogs

February 1, 2022

Our Reserve is famous for its birds. However, there are many interesting mammals that make their homes here as well. Below I have outlined a few of our favorites (in no particular order).

Central American Agouti (Dasyprocta punctata) – Local name: guatusa. One of the most frequently seen mammals on the Reserve. Agoutis are large rodents, about the size of a jack rustle terrier, but with much longer legs and dainty lil’ paws. When alarmed, they thump their paws on the ground and make a series of grunts. Agoutis can jump about 6 feet horizontally, and when we startle them on the trails they often appear as a blur as they rocket themselves into the brush. As seed predators, agoutis will cache seeds when they find more than they can eat, making them important forest seed dispersers (Kritcher 1999). We regularly observe agoutis calmly foraging behind the Cabana without noticing us.

Central American Agouti in the Backyard (Aidan Sullivan)

Ecuadorian White-Fronted Capuchin (Cebrus aequatorials) – A critically endangered species. Ecuadorian white-fronted capuchins are endemic to northern Peru and Ecuador and have lost 99% of their habitat in the last few decades. The lowland Chocó-Manabí region has largely been deforested and habitat converted to agriculture/ranch land. Large tracts of forested land are needed to sustain their foraging troupes as they have home ranges of 500 hectares (Abrams 2019). Occasionally, a troupe of capuchins will travel through the Reserve in the search for fruiting forest trees.

Southern River Otter (Luntra longicaudis) – In the past, these otters were intensively hunted for their fur and are not often seen (Emmons 1990). We were lucky and got to see an individual playing and foraging in the rapids at one of our favorite swimming holes. After it got out of the water, it sauntered past Mary without noticing her. While this was happening, I was running back to the cabana for my camera. By the time I returned to the beach, I was only able to get a blurred shot of it as it departed. Luckily, Mary took some good iPhone videos of the encounter. They are posted on RLT’s social media

Nine-banded Armadillo (Dasypus novemcinctus) – Mostly nocturnal, armadillos frequently forage for insects in the soil along our trails. They have poor eyesight, and it is sometimes possible to get a close look at them before they notice you.  When startled, they jump straight up into the air, then trundle speedily into the undergrowth. Armadillos’ defense is their armored bands, not their stealth, so they often move very noisily through the bush. If you hear something crashing through the undergrowth beside you at night, it is probably just an armadillo. If there was a jaguar next to you in the bush, you wouldn’t hear a thing.

Squirrels – Belong to the order Rodentia, which is the largest order of mammals worldwide. Squirrels are seen frequently all over the Reserve. We have two species:

  • Western dwarf squirrel (Microsciurus mimulus). Seen regularly around the Reserve, just cute as a button. I don’t have any interesting facts, I just wanted a reason to include a photo in the blog.
Just Cute as Heck (Aidan Sullivan)
  • Red-tailed squirrel (Sciurus granatensis). A larger and significantly less cute squirrel. No photo needed.

Bats – Belong to the order Chiroptera, the second largest order of mammals worldwide. Bats make up 39% of neotropical mammals. Bats are very beneficial to ecosystems, as they eat large quantities of insects and are important pollinators for many plant species including balsa, chicle, and calabash. In a given neotropical forest, there are likely as many species of bats as there are all other mammals combined (Emmons 1990). We see them frequently in low light, and it can be difficult to determine their species. We do have one very special bat that roosts near the toolshed inside our cabin. We’ve named the bat ‘squeakers’ and it uses a cardboard box to do its business.

Squeekers in his/our home

Kinkajou (Potos flavus) –The largest arboreal mammals we have at the Reserve. Kinkajous are a member of the raccoon family (Procyonidae) and are nocturnal. One can find kinkajous with a bright flashlight as they have incredibly bright orange eyeshine that will reflect the light back to you. During the day you might see their tails sticking out of their dens high in a tree.

Spectacled Bear (Tramarctos ornatus) – Once ranging from California to the eastern seaboard and all of Central America, the spectacled bear now has a limited range in North-East South America. The spectacled bear has been hunted relentlessly and has lost much of its former habitat to deforestation (Kritcher 1999). Since 2014, spectacled bears have only been observed once at the Reserve. During Katie & Nick’s tenure (winter 2021), a mother and cub walked right up the back stairs of the Lodge. Sightings like these remind us of why it is so important to preserve large areas of tropical forest.

Spectacled Bear Cub at the Reserve (Nick & Katie Ebanks)


Abrams, Sylvie. Ecuadorian White-Fronted Capuchin. New England Primate Conservancy. Web 2019

Emmons H. Louise, Neotropical Rainforest Mammals: A Field Guide. 1990, University of Chicago Press

Kricher, John. A Neotropical Companion. 1999, Princeton University Press

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