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Patagonian Mara: 19 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Patagonian mara facts are informative.

Are you a lover of rodents? Well, we have a special treat for you all. We present to you the Patagonian Mara (Dolichotis patagonum). Despite being a rodent they resemble a deer and a bunny rabbit as they have long ears. Isn't it interesting? The Patagonian maras are diurnal creatures i.e. they are active during the daytime. They are South American animals that are found exclusively in Argentina. Despite being larger than other cavies, these animals are often kept as exotic pets. However, the main habitats of Patagonian Maras are the wild where they live in dens or a burrow that they build. These are monogamous animals and they usually live and spend their life as a pair. Owing to their small size these South American animals often hide from their predators. These are herbivorous animals and their diet consists of grasses, roots, and stems of different plants. If you are looking for an exotic pet, a pet like a Patagonian mara pet can be the perfect animal for you.

If you find this article informative and interesting then do check out our facts on the Arctic hare and snowshoe hare too.

Patagonian Mara Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Patagonian Mara?

Patagonian Maras aka Dolichotis patagonum is a type of large rodent which belongs to the family of Caviidae. It is native to the land of Argentina.

What class of animal does a Patagonian Mara belong to?

The Patagonian Maras or Dolichotis patagonum is a rodent and like all rodents, they too fall under the class of Mammalia under the Animalia kingdom.

How many Patagonian Maras are there in the world?

There is very limited information and data which gives us the exact figure as to how many Patagonian maras (Dolichotis patagonum) are there currently in the world at this time, especially in Argentina. However, we can analyze the conservation status and estimate their numbers. The International Union for Conservation of Nature or the IUCN Red List has listed these species as Near Threatened with the number of Patagonian Maras steadily on the decline. Thus, we can assume that not many Patagonian maras are left on the planet due to human activities that include habitat loss and deforestation.

Where does a Patagonian Mara live?

Patagonian maras are mostly found in the arid regions of Argentina. A major part of the country like the southern and the central part of Argentina is the home for these animals. Patagonian Maras inhabit open places like grasslands and thus can be exclusively found in the neotropical area of Argentina which covers 28-50 S of the continent of South America.

What is a Patagonian Mara's habitat?

The primary habitats of the Patagonian maras are open arid grasslands. Since these animals are found in the southern hemisphere of the planet these animals inhabit the grasslands known as steppes. These grasslands have distinct dry ad wet climates. Precipitation is extremely unpredictable however quality rainfall is 0ften experienced in these places. They also prefer staying in desert conditions where they feed on thorny shrubs. These animals prefer staying in places where food is found in plenty.  These animals are known to build their dens where there is an abundance of grasses and low-lying plants.

Who do Patagonian Maras live with?

Patagonian maras (Dolichotis patagonum) are usually not solitary animals as they are known to move in pairs. Three Patagonian maras traveling together is a very unusual sight and is rarely seen in native Argentina. Usually, a pair of male and female Patagonian mara travel together and are seen grazing on luscious green grass all throughout the day. These animals are often known to form groups with other adults and pups of the same species and live in a burrow. As many as 70 Patagonian maras can be seen in a group or a den. The females take extreme care of their young ones after the breeding and reproduction process and thus as a result spend relatively less time with their male counterparts. As for the males, they devote the majority of their time to lookouts for predators. Males are pretty aggressive and as a result, they are known to defend their fellow individuals with their life.

How long does a Patagonian Mara live?

There is very limited information and data which gives us an insight into the average lifespan of a Patagonian mara that is found in the wild. However, it has been recorded that the Patagonian Mara can live up to almost 14 years in captivity with proper care.

How do they reproduce?

Patagonian maras are monogamous animals. Both males and female individuals are usually known to mate for life. The male is known to be extremely protective of his female counterpart during this breeding period and urinates on her to mark her as his territory and to ward off the advances of other male individuals. Males are extremely aggressive and are known to fight for females during the breeding period. These animals showcase pair-bonded behavior where the male usually finds one female and keeps her for life in the den. The female Patagonian maras are known to become sexually mature at the age of roughly around eight months. The litter size of the Maras pups is different in the wild in their den houses and in the case of captivity. In the wild habitat, only one offspring is produced while in captivity one to three offsprings are born. The reproductive phase of these animals lies in the months of late August and December. Similar to other rodents the gestation period of these large rodents lasts for roughly around 100 days. Extensive care of the little pups is taken by the mother. Since all of the offspring reside in a common den, female Patagonian maras often take care of and feed pups that are not their own child. The young pups are extensively fed and taken care of for a minimum span of 75 days. Initially, after reproduction, the young pups remain hidden in their den or burrows from predators, however, with the passage of time they grow and start following their parents in search of food. The young Maras' pups can stay with their parents and leave the burrow till the next reproduction and breeding season.

What is their conservation status?

These large rodents i.e. the Patagonian cavy or mara (Dolichotis patagonum) are quite rare and are found only in Argentina. These animals are slowly edging towards the grasp of extinction as the International Union for Conservation of Nature or the IUCN Red List has listed this animal under the Near Threatened category. The population of this species of animals is also constantly on the decrease with humans and their activity plays a vital role in the gradual decrease of these species. Human activities like habitat loss, deforestation, poaching, and others are solely responsible for the decline of the Patagonian maras. Predators like foxes, pumas, and predatory hawks who hunt adults and pups alike, have also kept the increase of the Patagonian maras in a constant check.

Patagonian Mara Fun Facts

What do Patagonian Maras look like?

The Patagonian maras (Dolichotis patagonum) are large rodents and they are also considered as the second largest animal of their family. The males of these species are usually larger than their female counterparts, however, some reports have often shown that the females weigh more than the males. These rodents are large in size in comparison with a normal rodent and have extremely distinguishable ears very much similar to a bunny rabbit. They have small tails which are almost devoid of any hair or fur. The thick and grizzly fur of these animals is grey in color and the rump is white in color. The middle portion of the rump is often demarked by black or gray shades. These animals are pretty colorful as can be well depicted from the variety of color shades that they showcase. The chin for example has orange spots or patches while the color of the venter is white. These animals have anal glands which are located in the anterior portion of their anus. These animals are extremely fast runners and their powerful hind legs play a very important role in running which is usually done in the case of searching for food or to look for shelter in case of a predatory attack. The forelimbs are relatively longer in comparison to the hindlimbs and have claws. They have 10 teeth which are evergrowing. The body symmetry of these animals is bilaterally symmetrical i.e. if the body is cut vertically from the head to the torso, the result half will be equal and mirror opposite of one another.

Patagonian mara has long ears like a rabbit.

How cute are they?

Rodents are animals that are extremely cute in nature. Be it for their looks, especially their long cuddly ears, or for their personality. These rodents i.e. Patagonian maras are extremely adorable animals and thus they can very easily be considered cute animals.

How do they communicate?

The communication in the case of the Patagonian maras is highly interesting as these little animals use a wide range of methods in effectively communicating with one another. For communication that is solely based on movement, they are known to use a method called stotting in which these animals start bouncing on all four legs and if they ever feel threatened by the presence of any predator or danger they start jumping and can often reach 6 ft while jumping. As for vocal communication, a wide range of vocalizations is used by the Patagonian mara. The sounds produced by the Patagonian mara are usually short in range and involve the likes of small screams and grunts. There are still doubts among scientists that ascertain the fact that whether the Patagonian mara uses auditory signals as a means of communication among other members of the species. These animals are also known to mark places with scents. These places are usually territory and it is the males who demark their territory. The scent is produced from their anal glands that are located in the anterior part of their anus. These animals drag their anus on the ground and thus marks their territory effectively in their habitat.

How big is a Patagonian Mara?

The Patagonian mara is a large rodent in comparison with other rodents. Moreover, these animals are also the second-largest animals in terms of size in their family. The males are usually larger than the females of the species. An average adult Patagonian mara measures approximately in the range of 24-32 in or 61-81 cm in length. In comparison to a Guinea Pig which measures around 7.8-15.7 in or 20-40 cm in length, the Patagonian mara can be said to be double the size of a Guinea Pig.

How fast can a Patagonian Mara run?

The Patagonian mara is an excellent runner and effectively covers a wide area of land in search of food and in escaping from predators. Despite being small in size they can outdo themselves while running. These animals can attain a high speed but only for small bursts. The Patagonian mara can reach up to 28 mph or 45 kmph for a distance of around 0.62 m or 1 km approximately.

How much does a Patagonian Mara weigh?

The Patagonian Mara is a large-sized rodent and they are also the third-largest rodent on the entire planet. The weight of the Patagonian mara lies in the range of 17.8-27.5 lb or 8-12.5 kg approximately. In comparison to the weight of a Guinea Pig 1.5-2.6 lb, the Patagonian mara is almost five times in terms of weight.

What are their male and female names of the species?

There is no distinct name that has been assorted to males or female species of the Patagonian maras. However, if we follow the generic nomenclature for rodents, the males are called a buck, the mated females are called dams while the unmated females are termed as does.

What would you call a baby Patagonian Mara?

The generalized name for baby rodents is usually pups, so the ideal way to call a young Patagonian mara baby would be to refer to it as a Patagonian pup.  

What do they eat?

The Patagonian Mara is a herbivore however these animals have a special ability. They can adjust their diet and food intake based on the climate and habitat in which they are residing. Since these animals live in a wide range of habitats, ranging from arid places to open grasslands to desert conditions, the availability of food and the type of food too differs from one place to another. Rainfall plays a very vital role in the food habit of the Patagonian mara. Places in the neotropical zone that receives high to moderate rainfall experience a wide range of flora while desert conditions that receive little to no rainfall have plants that grow thorns. The majority of the diet of these animals comprises grasses followed but roots and shoots of plants that can be extensively found in the steppe grasslands. These animals also feed on a wide range of cacti that predominantly grows in the desert and the arid regions. When there is an affinity of water in the environment, these rodents change their diet and shift to plants that contain more water or consume moisture-laden plants.

Are they dangerous?

Though these animals are known to avoid the company of humans when they are present in the wild, the Patagonian mara is an extremely harmless animal.

Would they make a good pet?

Yes. These animals are often kept as pets or can be seen in zoos. The Patagonian mara is an extremely harmless animal and they can be kept as exotic pets. Thi species with their long ears are friendly and are not noisy at all thereby making them very good pets. If you plan on keeping a Patagonian mara as a pet, it is advisory to keep them outsides rather than indoors as they being rodents are avid diggers and chewers. Moreover, these animals are not that well-behaved if compared to a dog, so the ideal solution would be to keep them outdoors and provide them the space to move freely.

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 Patagonian mara is a particular animal that has a special kind of bacteria that resides in their gut and is largely responsible for the breakdown of the cellulose and fiber which the Patagonian mara intakes. Often it can be seen in the vast grasslands that some wild Patagonian Mara visits farmlands and sheep enclosures where they feed on sheep dung which is a rich source of fiber.

Why is a Patagonian Mara being called a Chupacabra?

Once, in Oregon, a Patagonian mara was mis-identified as a chupacabra. A chupacabra is a Southern legend and it is thought that they are either a dog or some rodent. When the Patagonian mara animal was spotted in Oregon, it was seen as a large rodent and many people thought it was the chupacabra.

When was the Patagonian Mara discovered?

While it is not known when the species of Patagonian maras were discovered, Eberhardt August Wilhelm von Zimmermann first named the nomenclature of the species in the year 1780.

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 brown hare fun facts for kids, and mountain hare facts.

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

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