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Paca

The paca (Agouti paca), also known as the spotted paca, is a large rodent found in tropical and sub-tropical America. It ranges from East-Central Mexico to Paraguay. It is also known as the gibnut in Belize, where it is prized as a game animal.

Description

The paca has coarse fur without under fur. It is dark brown to black on the upper body and white or yellowish on the underbelly. It usually has three to five rows of white spots along its sides, against a dark grey background. It has thick strong legs, with four digits in the forefeet and five in the hind feet. Its nails function as hooves. The tail is short and hairless. The zygomatic arch is expanded laterally and dorsally and is used as a resonating chamber. It is a unique feature among mammals.

An adult paca weighs between 13.23 and 26.46 pounds (6 and 12 kg). It is the second-largest rodent species (after the Capybara). It has two litters per year, each having usually one young, sometimes two. Gestation lasts 115 to 120 days. Pacas are sexually mature at about 1 year.

Habits

Pacas are mostly nocturnal and solitary and do not vocalize very much. They live in forested habitats near water. They prefer smaller rivers, and dig simple burrows about 2.19 yards (2 m) below the surface. There is usually with more than one exit. Pacas are good swimmers and usually head for the water to escape danger. Their diet includes leaves, stems, roots, seeds, and fruit. They especially like avocados, mangos and zapotes. They sometimes store food.

Paca


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