Patagonian Mara

The Patagonian Mara, Dolichotis patagonum, is a relatively large rodent found in Central and Southern Argentina. Maras inhabit arid grasslands and scrub desert. Maras like to live in burrows and will occasionally inhabit burrows that already exist from other animals. They are herbivorous.

The Patagonian Mara is from the Family Caviidae, which includes cavies, such as their larger relative the capybara, and guinea pigs. Patagonian Maras are closely related to the other member of the Dolichotis Genus, the Chacoan Mara. Patagonian Maras are the second largest rodent in the world after the capybara. Though the Mara may look like a rabbit, the rabbit is not actually a rodent and therefore not as closely related to the Mara as one might expect.

Mara social structure is defined mostly by the fact that they are monogamous, uncommon among rodents, and mate for life. Mara couples together inhabit a territory of, usually, about 40 hectares. The male always follows the female, on guard for rival males and predators. Very little territoriality is evident, but males appear to have a dominance hierarchy. Occasionally they will travel in large groups of 70 or more when traveling to large lakes where food is plentiful.

Patagonian Mara young, called pups, are kept in a communal burrow. As many as 15 pairs of Maras may deposit their young in one burrow. Mara pups are well developed and can start grazing within 24 hours of birth. However, they remain in the burrow for up to four months where Mothers return several times a day to nurse their young. Maras usually produce two young per litter and produce three to four litters per year.