The Tandayapa Valley is home to many mammals, but only one of them, the Red-tailed Squirrel Sciurus granatensis, is easily seen. Southern Opossums Didelphis marsupialis often come at night to eat the fruit put out for tanagers. Apart from the many bats that fly at dusk, White-eared Opossums D. albiventris, Andean Coati Nausella olivacea, and Tayra Eira barbara, are probably the most frequently encountered of the other mammals. On rare occasions Long-tailed Weasel Mustela frenata, Red Brocket-Deer Mazama rufina, Kinkajou Potos flavus, Collared Peccary Tayassu tajacu, Nine-banded Armadillo Dasypus novemcinctus, Olingo Bassaricyon gabbii and Puma Puma concolor have been sighted. The largest mammalian inhabitant of the area, the Spectacled Bear Tremarctos ornatus, is also probably the rarest and the most elusive. Click here to see the mammal list.
Reptiles and Amphibians
You will hear frogs as you walk through the forest, but seeing them takes a bit of effort. Those who hunt under leaves or go out with a torch at night have a good chance of finding some. Rain frogs and tree frogs are common, and several species breed in the pond by the lodge. Lizards, both large and colorful anoles, and small and delicate skinks, are often to be seen basking on sunny days. Luckily or unluckily, depending on your point of view, snakes are very rarely encountered. Brett Taylor’s report from his 2011 stint as a volunteer guide has some photos of some of the herps he encountered in and around Tandayapa.
Insects and other invertebrates
The butterflies and moths include species that can easily rival tanagers and hummingbirds for color and spectacle. Large swallowtails and monarchs float past on sunny mornings, and glasswing butterflies dance at their leks along the forest trails. The selection of moths attracted to the Lodge lights is amazing, and if you beat the birds to them, you can find a huge variety of shapes and colors on the walls in the morning, dispelling any misconceptions you may have had about these insects being dull shades of their diurnal counterparts. To see photos of more than 300 species and a guide to their identification, click here. The moths are often joined by stick insects, leaf-like grasshoppers, and some striking beetles. Flashes from lampyrids add some sparkle to the nights when it is too cloudy to see the stars. Variously called glow-worms, fire-flies, lightning-bugs, they are actually beetles. Despite the abundance of these insects, you will be pleased to know that mosquitoes are rarely a problem, but if you wear shorts you are likely to meet some of the local blackflies.
The number of species in the forest is astounding. The trees are covered with bromeliads and climbers, and whilst flowers do not seem to be as common as they are in temperate forests, the blooms in the cloudforest can be spectacular. The orchids are the most famous and include some of the most beautiful, but equally as striking are the red spikes of flowering gingers, the pink hydrangeas dangling from the canopy, and the enormous passion-flowers hanging down from vines. A large pink-flowered melastome tree in full bloom is quite a sight, and one that is visible from a mile away. Heliconias will certainly attract your eye, with huge flowering spikes sticking straight up, or borne on pendulous stems, and nobody can miss the huge elephants’ ears, with their leaves large enough to be used as umbrellas.