"Nobody knows exactly what the Toro eats, but based on dentition, and discussion with other biologists at the reserve, (it) probably eats fruits and maybe invertebrates too," Roach said.
One of the biologists who initially rediscovered the shy rodent, Sam Waller, suggested that Roach use cherry lollipops as lure. Aside from the well-known sweet tooth of rodents, Roach explained, "Because we are not live trapping, it was easy to tie lollipops to trees and replace them when necessary."
Thus far, the lollipops have attracted the attention of sweets-loving squirrels, but no Toro yet.
If the scientists do find one, they hope to collect some harmless samples like hair and saliva. Roach said that only three known specimens of this species exist in the American Museum of Natural History, so any information on it would be an immense help toward understanding its basic life history and ecology.
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Paul Salaman, a scientist from the Rainforest Trust who confirmed the identity of the species, said, "The El Dorado Nature Reserve represents the ultimate Noah's Ark, protecting the last populations of many critically endangered and endemic flora and fauna; a living treasure trove like no other on Earth."
Roach can attest to that. One of the sites that she visited was full of breeding Atelopus laetissimus, a critically endangered frog native to the area. She and her team also found a rare margay (Leopardus wiedii) sitting in a tree. They watched the small spotted wild cat for 20 minutes.
"It is one of the most beautiful animals I have seen," Roach said. "Prior to our sighting, it had never been officially recorded on the El Dorado reserve."
The team also has daily -- and often nightly -- encounters with what she calls "gorgeous" moths, insects and spiders from the region, including a tarantula (Kankuomo marquezi) whose species was only just documented recently.
As the summer rolls on, so does the search for the Toro.
"While we have not found the Toro yet, I remain hopeful," Roach said. "Now that I have talked with local people and conducted preliminary surveys, I have a better understanding of the region and I plan to return next year with more equipment, as well as revised survey methods." SEE PHOTOS BELOW: