Patagonian mara, Patagonian Cavy, Patagonian Hare

(Dolichotis patagonum)


Patagonian mara, Patagonian Cavy, Patagonian Hare IUCN NEAR THREATENED (NT)


Facts about this animal

The mara is a huge, long-legged cavy with a head-body length of 69-75 cm and a body-weight of 9-16 kg. The tail is hairless and very short, measuring about 45 mm. The hind legs have three toes with hooflike claws and are longer than the fore legs, which gave four digits.


The dense and fine fur is greyish-brown on the upper parts and whitish on the belly. The rump exhibits a striking white patch separated from the dorsal fur by a contrasting black area. The flanks and chin are orangish.


A cavy pair breeds two or three times a year. A litter consists of 1-3 young, which are born after a 3 month gestation period. The young are well developed at birth. They are born outside a burrow but are quickly placed in a communal den, usually made from a hole or tunnel abandoned by another animal. This den is home to the offspring of as many as 15 cavy pairs. Weaning occurs at about 11 weeks, and a young female may conceive when about 5 months old.


Maras are grazers and, like other cavies, are coprophagous.

Did you know?
That, uncommon among mammals and especially rodents, Mara's are monogamous and mate for life?


Name (Scientific) Dolichotis patagonum
Name (English) Patagonian mara, Patagonian Cavy, Patagonian Hare
Name (French) Mara, Lièvre de Patagonie
Name (German) Mara
Name (Spanish) Mara mayor, Liebre patagonica
CITES Status Not listed
CMS Status Not listed



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Range Argentina pampa
Habitat Arid grasslands and scrub deserts
Wild population Unknown (Red List IUCN 2011)
Zoo population 1100 reported to ISIS (2006), but this species is also kept as animal pet

In the Zoo

Patagonian mara, Patagonian Cavy, Patagonian Hare


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 79 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


Find this animal on ZooLex


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Why do zoos keep this animal

Being the largest cavy and having a unique lifestyle for a rodent, the Patagonian mara is primarily kept for educational purposes. It is also a good ambassador species for its threatened habitat, the pampa of Argentina.