This week's Mystery Creature...

Week 21st to 27th October 2013

Plenty of correct answers for last week's Mystery Creature... it was the Patagonian Mara (Dolichotis patagonum).

photo credit: Joachim S. Müller via photopin cc

The Patagonian Mara (also known as the Patagonian Hare or Cavy) are only found in certain areas of Argentina and are classified as a near threatened species. They look like a cross between a rabbit and a small deer but are in fact large rodents, more closely related to the guinea pig. An adult will grow to approximately 70 to 80 cm in length. Their bodies have long powerful hind limbs and they can reach speeds of up to 45 kilometres an hour.

These animals are diurnal herbivores, feeding mainly on grasses.  They prefer shrubby habitats for their provision of shelter from prey but are also found in flat, barren, sometimes sandy plains.  Although they are monogamous they will usually share a communal burrow with other pairs, providing more safety and security for their young.  In the wild the female will usually only have one litter a year, of about two young.  The young are born mobile and with their eyes open.  The young stay in the communal burrow while the parents remain outside.  There is usually at least one adult pair outside the burrow and the female will approach regularly and seek out her own young through calls and smell and lead them to shelter near the burrow for feeding.  Other pairs must wait for feeding to finish and the young to be returned to the burrow before they can approach and feed their own offspring.

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