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PATAGONIAN MARA

PATAGONIAN MARADolichotis patagonum

Conservation Status: Lower Risk / Near Threatened

It may qualify for a threatened status soon due to habitat loss, hunting for its skin, and competition with agricultural herbivores.

statusbar_nearthreatened copy

CLASS

Mammalia

ORDER

Rodentia

FAMILY

Caviidae

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General Characteristics

Color: 

They have long ears and a body resembling that of a deer. The Patagonian Mara is brown or grey, with a darker patch on its rump that has white fur right beneath it. The belly and underparts also tend to be white. Their powerful hind legs have 3 toes at the end with hoof-like claws. The forelimbs have 4 sharp claws.

Size:

69-75 cm long

Weight:

8-16 kg (17.6-35.3 lbs.)

Average Lifespan:

Unknown in wild

Captive Lifespan:

14 years

Distribution:

Endemic to Argentina. There are 2 subspecies. 

Habitat:

The Patagonian Maras are commonly found in lowland coarse grassland areas or open scrub desert. Additionally, they may be found in forests. 

Reproduction:

Mating: 

They are strictly monogamous (rare in mammals). During the austral breeding season, females will dig burrows for the young and will raise them communally in groups of up to 29 pairs.

Gestation/Incubation:

90 days

Litter/Clutch Size:

2 pups that are born with their eyes already open. When the mother goes to feed her young, she will give a shrill call that attracts all the babies. She then picks hers out by smell to feed them.

Mature: 

Young Maras will nurse for 75 days.

Diet:

They are herbivores that consume a wide variety of plants including grasses and shrubs. They are important for seed dispersal and eat seeds, fruit, flowers, and cacti. They are hindgut fermenters and perform cacophagy (eat their own feces) to obtain more nutrients.

Behavior:

The Patagonian Mara is a diurnal species that spends a good portion of the day basking in the sun. They may rest like cats with their forelegs tucked up under themselves. They will form breeding pairs that then avoid contact with conspecifics for a majority of the year.

Teaching Facts:

1. To escape predators, they use a form of locomotion called ‘stotting’ which involves rapid bouncing using all four limbs. They can reach speeds of up to 45 km. per hour.

2. Their communal breeding behavior means that more adults are visiting the nest throughout the day, which may deter predators.

3. Males will aggressively protect their mates.

4. They use scent to mark their territory.

5. Their cheek teeth are ever-growing.