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Pacarana: 21 Facts You Won't Believe!

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A pacarana (Dinomys branickii) is a rare and slow-moving rodent of the Dinomyidae family that lives in northwestern Venezuela, Peru, and northwestern Bolivia in South America. These new world rodents get their name from another rodent species called paca that belongs to a different family. The name pacarana translates to false paca in the native Tupi Language. The pacaranas were discovered in Peru in 1873, but there was no elaborate information about the animals till recently since they were so rare. They move very slowly and have shown friendly behavior towards humans in captivity. However, they fail to reproduce in captive environments.

The pacaranas (Dinomys branickii) rely on their claws and front paws to protect themselves whenever they feel threatened. These nocturnal animals occupy forest floors. However, the pacaranas are significantly threatened by the degradation of forests. Continued habitat loss and deforestation have affected their population adversely. Another reason why they are threatened is because of the animal's rarity. Sometimes they are killed by farmers as they act as serious agricultural pests. To know more facts about this fascinating mammal, keep on reading these amazing pacarana facts.

 For similar content, check out Kerry blue terrier facts and paint horse facts too.

Pacarana Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a pacarana?

The pacarana (Dinomys branickii) is a type of rodent native to the South American rainforests along the adjacent foothills of the Andes Mountains.

What class of animal does a pacarana belong to?

The pacarana (Dinomys branickii), of Rodentia order and Dinomyidae family, belongs to the class Mammalia, the common class for all warm-blooded animals.

How many pacaranas are there in the world?

The global population of the pacarana has not been determined currently. It is a very rare rodent with little information about its population and population trend but is not endangered. The animals are difficult to locate in the wild, and therefore, the total number of mature individuals has not been determined.

The distribution of the pacarana is very patchy, and they are rarely spotted by people. Even though there is no population estimate currently, a population density study has revealed that the population density of pacaranas ranges between 5.5-9.9 groups per square kilometer.

Where does a pacarana live?

The pacarana is a rare South American slow-moving rodent that is found in the western Amazon basin and adjacent foothills of the Andel Mountains. The South American range of pacarana extends from northwestern Venezuela to northwestern Bolivia, including Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and western Brazil.

What is a pacarana's habitat?

The habitat of the pacarana includes moderately elevated tropical forests found in the western Amazon basin. They are found in montane forests of the western Amazon basin and also in the valleys and adjacent foothills of the Andes Mountains. The pacarana's habitat includes rock cracks, out-croppings, and edges to agricultural land.

Who does a pacarana live with?

The slow-moving South American pacaranas (Dinomys branickii) are not social in nature. Pacaranas spend most of their time along and on the ground as they are terrestrial. Sometimes they are found living in small family groups. The family groups consist of four to five pacaranas.

How long does a pacarana live?

The lifespan of a pacarana is estimated to be around nine years in captivity.

How do they reproduce?

There is very little information about the reproductive behavior of a pacarana, and most of it is concluded from studying the behavior of pacarana in captivity. Both the parents take part in the nest building. The nest is a burrow dug in rock crevices or tree logs. The mating call of the pacaranas is described as a cry for their partners. The pacarana is a terrestrial animal. The male species approach the females during courtship in a bipedal position. The females give birth to two young pacaranas after a gestation period of 222-283 days. The young pacaranas are born with a more or less developed body. The period for which the young is weaned after birth is unknown. They show a keen interest in their home grounds only a few days after birth and start exploring.

What is their conservation status?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the pacarana (Dinomys branickii) of the Dinomyidae family is listed as a species of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List. The only reason behind giving the status of Least Concern to the Pacaranas is because the animals have a large range. It is also assumed that they are present throughout their range, although there are no records of the animal from many parts. No accurate data regarding their status have been derived yet. The large range has kept the species out of the threshold of endangered species. The pacarana also occurs in several protected areas, so they cannot be considered to be endangered as of yet.

Pacarana Fun Facts

What does a pacarana look like?

The pacarana has a herbivorous diet.

The pacarana (Dinomys branickii) animal is a rare and slow-moving South American rodent that is distributed from Venezuela to Bolivia. It is the third-largest rodent weighing up to 33 lb (15 kg). They are the largest rodents in the world after capybara and beavers. The head is larger in comparison to the body. They have strong and powerful hind legs and claws, which help them to hunt. Their body is covered with short hair and they have furry tails. The upper parts look dark brown or blackish in color. Along the sides, they have a few rows of white spots and two discontinuous white stripes along the back.

How cute are they?

Pacaranas look very cute, but since they are nocturnals, many people are not accustomed to the animal.

How do they communicate?

The pacarana (Dinomys branickii) can use seven different types of sounds to communicate with each other. Some of them that the animals use commonly are singing, whining, tooth chattering, stamping with their claws, and hissing.

How big is a pacarana?

The length of a pacarana ranges between 28-31 in (73-79 cm). They are much larger in size than the muskrats.

How fast can a pacarana run?

The pacaranas are slow-moving mammals; they cannot run fast. Their speed has unfortunately not been determined.

How much does a pacarana weigh?

The weight of an adult pacarana ranges between 22-33 lb (10-15 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

The male and female pacarana do not have any specific names; both are called pacaranas.

What would you call a baby pacarana?

Like all rodent species, a young pacarana is referred to as a pup.

What do they eat?

The diet of a pacarana is herbivorous in nature. Their diet consists of berries, fruits, leaves, and tender plant stems.

Are they dangerous?

No, pacaranas are not dangerous.

Would they make a good pet?

No, they do not make good pets. They fail to reproduce in a captive environment. However, a pacarana is observed to show friendly behavior when kept captive. They even rub themselves against the human's legs to show affection like domestic cats.

Kidadl Advisory: All pets should only be bought from a reputable source. It is recommended that as a potential pet owner you carry out your own research prior to deciding on your pet of choice. Being a pet owner is very rewarding but it also involves commitment, time and money. Ensure that your pet choice complies with the legislation in your state and/or country. You must never take animals from the wild or disturb their habitat. Please check that the pet you are considering buying is not an endangered species, or listed on the CITES list, and has not been taken from the wild for the pet trade.

Did you know...

The long claws of the front paws of the pacarana help them to hunt and grasp their food. They hold their food in the front paws and eat while sitting on their hind legs.

Why is the pacarana endangered? 

The pacarana is officially listed as a species of Least Concern in the IUCN Red List. However, the pacarana's habitats are threatened by some significant threats in the wild, the major one being the destruction of forests. Some other threats include predation by domestic dogs and persecution by farmers, where they act up as agricultural pests. It is unlikely that the pacaranas are declining at a rate that can merit them an endangered listing currently, but they are on the verge of being listed as endangered since they are so rare.

Is a pacarana a rat? 

Once a rat video went viral on the internet, but later it was discovered that it was actually a different animal called Peruvian pacarana. A pacarana is a rodent, like rats and mice, but a pacarana and a rat are not the same animals. A prominent difference between them is the differences in their sizes. The pacarana is a large rodent weighing more than 30 lb (14kg). They are forest-dwelling animals that do not prefer to live in houses, while the rats are small animals, often found in the attics of houses.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals from our Karelian bear dog facts and bush baby facts pages!

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable Pacarana coloring pages.

Main image by Benjamin Frable.

Second image by Cliff.

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