A Very Large Rodent – Patagonian Maras

One of Largest Rodent - CavyThe Patagonian mara, also sometimes called the dillaby, is a member of the rodent family and resembles a rabbit or hare, although their very closest relatives are the guinea pig and capybara. Like rabbits, they live in warrens and are herbivorous, preferring to live in wide and open areas with lots of plants to graze on. Their diet largely consists of grasses, but up to 30% of their meals are made up of fruit. Unlike rabbits, the feet of the Patagonian mara are slim and condensed, making them very hoof-like.

The only country in which the maras live is Argentina. Unfortunately, their habitat has been dwindling due to humans and their lives are threatened by hunting, or taken from the wild to be pets. They further have to face competition from other herbivores like sheep. The Patagonian maras are listed as a near threatened species. Hopefully with help from breeding programs and conservation groups around the world, they can one day live in abundance again.

 

Large Rodent with Baby The maras’ favorite place to live includes slight shrub cover, but one population of maras live in the Monte Desert, where there is much less plant life. No matter where they live, the long legs of the Patagonian maras help them run easily over large distances. Maras are diurnal, meaning that they are active during the day. Female maras spend almost all their time eating. They need to eat more than males due to the effort it takes to carry children and care for them. When males are not themselves eating, they keep a watch out for predators. Maras face infrequent threats from foxes, birds of prey, and cats, among others.

Maras are monogamous and not only mate for life but live with each other. The male will follow the female mara no matter where she travels. The couple does not live alone, however. Close to 30 different pairs of maras can live in one warren at any one time. Young maras also live with each other in a communal den which their parents dig. Some mothers also allow children who are not their own to nurse from them. The young maras are able to walk almost immediately after being born and are fully weaned after about 13 weeks. During those weeks, it’s common to find the children playing together.

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