• Tabu the Endangered Oncilla

    The Oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus) sometimes referred to as a tiger cat, is one of the smallest felid species in the Americas. Their coat is typically a light brown colour with dark brown/black splotches as such they are often mistaken for Margays or Ocelot although they are considerably smaller weighing on average 1.5 to 3 kg. Oncillas live nocturnal lives in thick vegetation, making them difficult to find and thus little is known about their lives. They are good climbers however they typically hunt ground-dwelling prey, mostly small rodents but also lizards, birds and invertebrates. Studies have shown that in areas with a higher concentration of larger cats eg. Ocelots and Pumas the Oncillas became more active during the daytime, possibly to minimise competition. Oncillas are considered vulnerable by the IUCN with threats including poaching for its fur and deforestation for coffee plantations, cattle ranching and agriculture. In the wild Oncillas have a lifespan of about 11 years, however they have been know to survive up to 20 years in captivity. Oncillas are rarely found in captivity with only 2 individuals, both male, in captivity Costa Rica. Tabu is thought to have originally been kept as a pet, however he is now able to relax in the sun and practise his stalking skills as a resident at the Toucan Rescue Ranch. By former intern Katie Grant


    Continue reading
  • Tiger Lily the Lesser Anteater

    The Lesser anteater or Tamandua (Tamandua Mexicana): Anteaters are very curious and tend to cover very long distances looking for food. Their technique is simple- sniff around to find food, attack the nest, tree or any bug filled substrate, with their claws, make a hole big enough for the tongue to fit and go to town on the bug buffet. The initial assault takes the insects by surprise, but they quickly mount their defense and start protecting themselves. The thick coat of the anteater helps keep them safe for a bit, but soon, they are overwhelmed and must move on. The process immediately starts all over again as there’s no time to rest when you need to eat 9,000 insects a day. To achieve this goal, they will hit from 50 to 90 nests. They move in a straight line to ensure they attack new nests and catch the bugs by surprise.   The long distances that they have to cover put them at risk since we humans tent to build roads everywhere, thereby segmenting their territories. Crossing a road is probably the deadliest activity an anteater attempts. If they’re lucky, they can cross quickly to the other side without any interruptions. If they’re not and they see a car coming, they will panic. Sadly, these animals are far too brave for their own good and will try to fight the oncoming car. White with a colored vest, anteaters are the most elegant of the bug-eating animals that we care for. And Tiger Lily, named after the princess from Peter Pan, piles on immense amounts of cuteness to her elegance. She came to the rescue center when she was a tiny baby. We don’t know exactly what happened to her mom, but she was an orphan near a road and needed help. She was a feisty anteater and refused to eat. Little by little, we gain her trust and now she loves milk so much that she practically bathes in it. Lily is less than a year old and is following a successful program that we have implemented before. First comes the milk. Then we spice it up with insectivore (food for bug-eating birds) then we add some termites to the milk. Next, we introduce a termite nest and if she passes this test, then she can go to a tree to find her own food. This, of course, would be the ideal way to do it, but when working with wildlife, ideal is synonym with, “in your dreams. Now we have an anteater that is a great climber, loves fruit and milk, but won’t touch a bug. Maybe she’s vegetarian, some suggest. She’s about seven-months old and our plan is to release when she’s one-year old, so the clock is ticking and we will be working non-stop to make sure she can live up to her species name. By Biologist Pedro Montero Castro


    Continue reading
  • A Sloth in Heat

    Female three-fingered sloths come into estrous, or heat, multiple times a year and boy, do they like to scream about it! When a female sloth is "in heat" and ready to breed she doesn't wait for the males to come to her, she actively encourages them with high-pitched screams. The males will then follow the sound of the screams until he finds her. However, if multiple suitors find her, they may fight each other until the strongest male wins the right to mate. Once decided, the female will let the male approach. In a matter of minutes, intercourse is finished. In some cases, a pair has been found to stay together in the same tree for a few days, sometimes mating again. In others, the male has left shortly after fulfilling his role. Both genders are promiscuous and are likely to mate again. The female three-fingered sloth's pregnancy will last 6-7 months (for two-fingered it is 10-11 months!) and typically only one baby is born, although on some occasions, twins have been reported. Not a lot is known about the courting and reproduction of sloths as it has only been recorded on rare occasions. Recently, our resident three-fingered sloth, Bella, was in heat and we were lucky enough to witness her mating calls, although we're not sure the neighbors would share the sentiment. By former intern Katie Grant | Read more articles like this one by subscribing to our newsletter! 


    Continue reading