Monkey Forest Tales: Some notes about deers in the study area


After the last post was published, we realize that we forget another important mammal in the region, deers. Although the more widespread species in the region is the white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), there are at least another two species of deers present in the study region, especially in the big forest fragments. There two other species are the gray brocket deer (Mazama gouazoubira) and red brocket deer (Mazama americana).

All are herbivorous species who eat grasses, some fruits and flowers. Mainly nocturnal but the white-tailed deer is also diurnal. All are mainly solitary, except by the white-tailed deer that can be also found in small groups.

White-tailed deers are found in the study area mainly near to the forest edges and sometimes you can find their youngsters hiding quietly in the regenerating areas of abandoned pastures or in the forest edges near to watermelon crops after the harvest feeding on the leftover fruits.

We had the opportunity to see at least a couple of youngsters over the years, but we don’t have detailed data on their population in the area, except by some sightings, feces, and footprints.

Although hunted by its meat in many areas of their distribution areas, these three species seem to not be particularly heavily hunted in the study area, at least not in the forest fragments where they can be found that we have access. White-collared peccaries seem to be preferred in the area as bushmeat.

Sometimes it’s possible to find young animals in farmhouses as pets, mainly from white-tailed deers, usually keep it by local people after killing the mother, but not very often. We had seen them mostly alone or the mother and her offspring in the early hours of the morning. They seem to use living fences to hide and to rest at its shadow.

In the biggest fragments where the red and gray brocket deers can be found, mostly we have data on footprint which tells us that they used the trails used by locals to move the cattle from one pasture to another through the forest. Their main threats are deforestation and illegal hunting, at least in this area.

© Copyright Disclaimer. All pictures used on this web page are protected with copyrights to Xyomara Carretero-Pinzón. If you want to use any of these pictures, please leave a message on the website. Thank you.


Monkey Forest Tales: Some notes about river otters, squirrels, agoutis and capybaras


Capybara’s footprint.

This is the last post in a series of posts about other mammals living in the study area. Today’s post is about river otters, squirrels, agoutis, and capybaras.

River otters, a medium-sized mammal that depends on rivers and small streams to feed and move. They are well adapted to moving in the water as their feet had a membrane between their fingers that help them swim.

We had seen them in the streams close to farmhouses. They feed on fish and small crustaceans living in fast-flowing rivers and streams. Usually seen very close or in the water. They are scarce in the region. Although we saw a couple of individuals that seem to be permanent residents of one of the streams for several years and then disappear.

They are not hunted in the area and most farmers don’t pay much attention to them. Contamination of watercourses, deforestation as well as some agro-industrial practices such as deviation of natural watercourses are some of the threats for this amazing animal.

Squirrels in the area are not very common, although, in the last five years, they have been seen in forest fragments where they were not found in the previous decade. They are small-sized mammals, very agile and good climbers. They feed on seeds and fruits. Usually, we found them alone with only a few occasions in which we saw two individuals moving together. People in the area don’t pay much attention to them.

Agoutis are medium size rodents, highly appreciated by their meat by local people. It is illegal hunting them but there are reports of meat from agoutis sold in the town at around $15000 per meat pound in 2014. They are solitary and nocturnal rodents, mainly found in the biggest forest of the study area. They eat insects, seeds and fruits.

Capybaras are the biggest rodents in South America. There are still present in some farms in the study area, but they are less common than in Casanare and Arauca department in the Colombian Llanos. They live in big groups near to swamps, lakes and riverine forest. In the study area, we have seen footprints, tracks, and feces close to some rivers and lakes. Few individuals have been reported by local people.

Highly appreciated by their meat by local people, although illegal. There have been some efforts to reduce their illegal hunting by implementing captive colonies, but information about it is limited. Under the national laws is still illegal to sell and marketing capybara’s meat there requires special permits that need to be done by the environmental authorities, although is still common in some areas of the country.

For the mammals mentioned in this post, their main threats are deforestation and illegal hunting. Illegal hunting is especially strong for agouties and capybaras.

© Copyright Disclaimer. All pictures used on this web page are protected with copyrights to Xyomara Carretero-Pinzón. If you want to use any of these pictures, please leave a message on the website. Thank you.

Monkey Forest Tales: Some notes about armadillos and sloths

SM Junio 2011 050

An armadillo searching for food in a forest fragment at the study area.

We continue with the series of posts talking about other mammals present in the study area. We are talking about two groups of very different, but beautiful mammals, sloths, and armadillos.

The species of sloth we had identified in the study area is the southern two-toed sloth (Choloepus didactylus), they are solitary, and we had seen them eating in trumpet trees (Cecropia spp.).

They are nocturnal and difficult to see. As other sloths, they go down to the ground to defecate, but most of their time is spent in the treetops. They mainly eat leaves and can camouflage very well the leaves of the trees in which they rest or feed, making it even more difficult to see them.

They are not hunted in the study area but sometimes found it as pets. Their main threat is deforestation. There are reports of local people in the study area who had seen them crossing pastures during the day. There are a few reports from local people who found dead individuals on the electricity cables as they sometimes used them to move.

Armadillos are in general, small-sized mammals, except by the giant armadillo. In the study area, we had seen nine-banded long nosed armadillos (Dasypus novemcinctus). We also now from other colleagues work that in the region, especially in the biggest forest fragments in the study area it is possible to find the giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus), although it is rarely seen.

All species of armadillos are hunted in the area although is illegal. It has been traditionally hunted by indigenous and peasants in the region over centuries. When hunted, people usually use dogs to find them and if they hide in their burrows, people dig big holes surrounding the hole in which the dogs follow the armadillo.

They are scarce and difficult to see. They are mainly nocturnal, although the nine-banded long nosed armadillo can be seen during the day too.  We had seen them using living fences areas to feed and move between forest fragments. They mainly eat insects. Burrowing holes are common in most of the forest fragments in the area.

© Copyright Disclaimer. All pictures used on this web page are protected with copyrights to Xyomara Carretero-Pinzón. If you want to use any of these pictures, please leave a message on the website. Thank you.

Monkey Forest Tales: Some notes about tamanduas and giant anteaters

SM Junio 2011 128

We continue with some additional notes on some of the most amazing mammals in the region of the study area. Although tamanduas and giant anteaters can be found also in the deep Amazon forest, they are also common in fragmented landscapes, especially the giant anteaters.

Tamanduas are small-sized mammals with a long snout and a sticky tongue used to capture termites, ants, and bees. They are good climbers and you can see them walking on the ground or climbing trees in search of food. We had found both. They have a prehensile tail like the one from howler monkeys that help them while climbing trees.

They are diurnal and nocturnal, and we found them sleeping on the upper part of medium-sized trees. Solitary animals. We mostly found them inside forest fragments, although on a few occasions we saw them using living fences to move between forest fragments. In general, in the area, they are not hunted, and farmers pay little attention to them.

Giant anteaters are a larger mammal, terrestrial. They are diurnal, although sometimes you can also see them moving at night. They mainly feed on ants and termites. They use their long and sticky tongue to extract ants and termites from the tunnels in their nest that they destroy with the strong arms and claws.

We usually saw them in the pastures walking looking for food. On some occasions we also found them inside the forest resting on the ground, covering their bodies with their long hairy tail on top of them.

They are solitary, although on a few occasions we had seen up to three of them walking together, probably a female with a juvenile and a male trying to mate with the female. Babies are carried in the back of their moms and their fur pattern is like the back of their mom’s back hair.

They have a developed smell sense that they use to find their food. However, their sight is not so good and some of my closest encounters with them are in pastures where they just walk towards me because they didn’t notice me until they are too close.

Probably one of their main threat in the area additional to deforestation is roadkill, Although the can gallop and move fast when they need it, they usually walk slowly and cars crossing roads at high speed in the area (and region) didn’t stop or slow down for them and there is a lot of casualties because of this reason. They are not hunted in the study area.

Although both tamanduas and giant anteaters are still present in the area, they both still need forest areas to live and rest. Wildlife crossing, such as culverts, tunnels, overpasses, and viaduct could be important tools to reduce roadkill impact especially on giant anteaters and other terrestrial mammals that still persist in the region.


© Copyright Disclaimer. All pictures used on this web page are protected with copyrights to Xyomara Carretero-Pinzón. If you want to use any of these pictures, please leave a message on the website. Thank you.