Eira barbara

©Adriano Gambarini

Standard English Name


Scientific Name

Eira barbara

Brazilian common name/s

Irara, papa-mel

Distribution Map - IUCN

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Physical Description

Is a small / medium sized animal – 90 to 120 cm in length and weighs 4 to 5 kg. The coat is short and thick, with dark brown to black colouration along the whole body and light brown or gray on the head and neck. The ears are short and rounded. It has a long body, slightly arched back, short legs and a long tail. Has great agility and can swim, run and climb trees very well.

Ecology and Habitat

It occurs from the tropical coastal region of Mexico to northern Argentina. It inhabits open areas such as those found in the Cerrado to dense forests, but is more commonly seen in areas of dense vegetation, where it rests in hollow trees. It is predominantly active in the daytime, with occasional night time activity. It is predominantly solitary, but can also be seen in pairs. It feeds mainly on rodents, but also poultry, honey and fruit.
Gestation lasts 67 to 70 days with 1 to 3 cubs.
An interesting fact: both the scientific name (Eira barbara), and Brazilian common name (Irara – origin from the Tupi-Guarani tribe), means honey eater.

Threats and Conservation

Hunting and forest destruction are the main threats to this species.

General information

Average values with minimum and maximum in parentheses

Body / tail length (cm):

(55-71)a / (36-46) a



Weight (kg) / Height (cm):

(2.7-7) a / -

Living area (km2):


Number of puppies / Gestation (days):

2(1-3) b / (63-67) b

Longevity (years):


Social structure:

Alone a

Activity pattern:

Day and twilight a

a (Emmons & Feer 1997), b (Presley 2000), c (Michalski et al. 2006)

Online links

IUCN redlist (http://www.iucnredlist.org) presents a synthesis of current knowledge about distribution and conservation status.


Bezerra, B. M., Barnett, A. A., Souto, A., & Jones, G. (2009). Predation by the tayra on the common marmoset and the pale-throated three-toed sloth. Journal of Ethology, 27, 91-96.

Camargo, C. C., & Ferrari, S. F. (2007). Interactions between tayras (Eira barbara) and red-handed howlers (Alouatta belzebul) in eastern Amazonia. Primates, 48, 147-150.

Cuarón, A. D., Reid, F., & Helgen, K. (2008). Eira barbara. In: IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.2, <www.iucnredlist.org>, Downloaded on 06 July 2010.

Emmons, L. H., & Feer, F. (1997). Neotropical rainforest mammals: a field guide. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Goulart, F. V. B., Caceres, N. C., Graipel, M. E., Tortato, M. A., Ghizoni, I. R., & Oliveira-Santos, L. R. (2009). Habitat selection by large mammals in a southern Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Mammalian Biology, 74, 184-192.

Michalski, F., & Peres, C. A. (2005). Anthropogenic determinants of primate and carnivore local extinctions in a fragmented forest landscape of southern Amazonia. Biological Conservation, 124, 383-396.

Michalski, F., & Peres, C. A. (2007). Disturbance-mediated mammal persistence and abundance-area relationships in Amazonian forest fragments. Conservation Biology, 21, 1626–1640.

Michalski, F., Crawshaw, P. G., de Oliveira, T. G., & Fabian, M. E. (2006). Notes on home range and habitat use of three small carnivore species in a disturbed vegetation mosaic of southeastern Brazil. Mammalia, 70, 52-57.

Presley, S. J. (2000). Eira barbara. Mammalian Species, 636, 1-6.

Learn more about Brazilian carnivore species