The tlacuache is considered an ancestral animal. Its name comes from nahuatl Tlacuatzin which mean ‘the little one who eats fire’. Legend says that it was named that way because he stole fire from gods and shared it with men. That’s why they don’t have hair in their tail.
Mexico has six tlacuache species. These mammals are marsupials, kangaroo relatives. The females have a bag in their belly where their young are breastfed, and when they grow up, they carry them on their backs.
Tlacuache, Prehistoric animal
This animals have been on earth for 60 million years. We can find them anywhere in the country because they live in tropical and temperate climates. Their burrows are made in hollow tree branches, and they may use some holes that other animals have left, conditioning them with dry leaves to make them cozier. They are omnivorous, meaning they eat everything and are great for pest control in fields and trees.
Unfortunately us humans have invaded their habitat and they suffer abuse because they are usually confused with rats. But unlike rats, this adorable species is harmless and when they feel threatened they act dead for self-defense.
When its rainy season, tlacuaches are seriously affected. They lose their homes and they must wander around the city a lot. You can find some along Ciudad Universitaria in Pedregal, Ajusco and Cuemanco.
An organization called RETA (Rescue Tlacuaches) recommended the population to take care and feed them. And if you find an injured one, you can take it to Geopedregal, or the wildlife division of Veterinary School at UNAM.
They are also in danger because they feel attracted to the smell of food in trash cans, and when they get in they can’t find their way out.
Eduardo de la Rosa, a biology student, broadcasted videos rescuing trapped tlacuaches. And through the platform change.org he launched a petition to modify the containers and make then less dangerous for this species.
Tlacuaches are the only marsupials in our country, and although they are not endangered species we must protect them. In Sian ka’an, Quintana Roo and Calakmul, Campeche, they have a special protected area for this animal.
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