Rancho Pint - The Mexico Page
The Primavera Forest
Animal Guide

Text and Photos ©2011 by J. Pint unless otherwise indicated..

Photo Gallery

A mother possum (tlacuache) with her babies, photographed in the Primavera Forest by naturalist Jesús Moreno. These nocturnal  marsupials are omnivorous and may have from one to fifteen babies at a time.

Forest Ranger and biologist Karina Aguilar with her guide to mammals (left) and Oscar Reyna’s bird guide, which she helped to produce. Both books can be picked up at the Forest Service office in Concentro (Guadalajara).

Puma in the Primavera Forest, caught by a hidden camera. Photo by José Luis Leyva, AuraJaguar.

The Ringtail (Bassariscus astutus), is also known as a "miner's cat" as it was kept by miners to keep their shacks free of vermin. It's name in Nahuatl, cacomixtle, means "like a cat" but it's a member of the raccoon family. Photo by J. Moreno.

What? A croc in the forest? Yes it was there, but it's not in Karina's book and now lives on the coast where it belongs. Photo courtesy of K. Aguilar.

This tree squirrel is not in the Mammals book, although I suspect there are a few in the forest. You will find ground squirrels (Spermophilus variegatus) in the guide.

Zorri the fox slips out of the forest every night to enjoy a plate of fruit at Rancho Pint, compliments of Susy Pint





Enrich Your Walk in the Woods

Book Review

GUIA..DE MAMIFEROS by Karina AguilarBy John Pint

This very practical booklet on animal signs, tracks etc. in the Primavera Forest--located just west of Guadalajara, Mexico--was written and illustrated by Guardabosques (Forest Ranger) Karina Aguilar and in the time-honored tradition of government publications, bears a hefty title: “Guia de Identificación de Rastros de Mamíferos en el Area de Protección de Flora y Fauna Bosque La Primavera.” In spite of its ponderous title, however, this booklet is actually slim and easy to use. It is only 66 pages long, so it will take up hardly any room at all in your rucksack, but it provides a wealth of information about 18 fascinating mammals which live in the sprawling Primavera Forest just west of Guadalajara. Included are: foxes, coyotes, pumas, jaguarundis, bobcats, deer, peccaries, raccoons, badgers, ringtails, skunks, ferrets, armadillos, possums, squirrels, rabbits, gophers and voles.

Even though this guide is written entirely in Spanish, speakers of any language will learn a great deal from Aguilar’s detailed illustrations. These include a charming drawing of each animal together with sketches of its front and back paw prints, a diagram of its gait and even a drawing of its scat.

These illustrations will make it a snap for you to tell the track of a ferret from that of an armadillo, because their paw prints are radically different, but if you come upon the tracks of a feline, how do you know whether they were made by a puma, a bobcat or a jaguarundi, all of which roam el Bosque La Primavera? Well, the drawings in this book show that, among other things, the caminatas (gaits) of these animals are quite different. Now, if you are lucky enough to spot a sample of the animal’s scat, you may be able to say with confidence, “what passed by here was a jaguarundi (Herpailurus yagouaroundi) and nothing else!

Drawings by Karina AguilarIt is also possible that you will be entirely stymied because all you see is one print and there is no convenient scat lying next to it. Here is where a good knowledge of Spanish could save the day. From her vast experience in the woods, Aguilar includes a page or two of notes on each animal’s particular habits, its favorite hangouts, oddities about its gait, the size of its paws or what the leftovers of its meal typically look like. When all of these factors are taken into consideration, even a dyed-in-the-wool city slicker may correctly identify the signs left along the trail by an animal you most likely will never spot during the daytime.

Books like this guide allow us laymen to benefit from the experience of specialists like Karina Aguilar, but all too frequently such government or university publications somehow forget to put the author’s name on the cover or the title page. You might have no problem spotting the names of individuals who supervised or approved the publication of the book, but you may have to dig to find out who actually wrote it, which is the case with this booklet.

I once attended a book launching in the town of Ahualulco. It was for a scholarly volume published by the University of Guadalajara (UDG) about the Piedras Bola. I sat in the audience below a stage upon which several distinguished-looking individuals were seated. One by one, they rose to give lengthy speeches in flowery Spanish. While they droned away, I—like many others in the audience, paged through my newly purchased copy of the just published book. “I wonder what the elevation is where these Great Stone Balls are lying,” I whispered to the person sitting next to me. “1920 meters,” he answered without hesitation. “How do you know that?” I asked.

“Oh, it’s because I wrote the section on the plants up there.”
“You’re one of the authors of the book?”
“Yes. I’m Miguel Cházaro.”
“Nice to meet you. But why aren’t you up there on the stage with the other authors?”
“Oh, those aren’t authors. All of us authors are sitting down here in the audience.”
“Well, then, who are those people up on the stage?”
“Ah, those are all VIPs.”

Well, to my amazement, at no time during the entire ceremony did the VIPs on the stage ask the authors of the book to stand up and take a bow. Somehow, they forgot to give credit to the people who did all the work, but I don’t plan to make that mistake in this review: Felicidades, Karina Aguilar! What a fine job you have done!

This booklet is completely free of charge. You can pick it up at the Forest Service headquarters in Guadalajara at CONCENTRO (Av. Vallarta No. 6503 at the Periférico). They’re open from 9:00 to 4:00 weekdays, 9-2 on Saturdays, TEL 31-10-09-17. You can find their office (Local E-38) easily by going into the main entrance of the building (on Vallarta and surrounded by banks) and turning left as soon as you pass a small water fountain. Keep your eyes on the offices to your left. The Bosque’s is the only one with flower pots and “little deer” on the floor outside the door.


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