Patagonian Mara

Dolichotis patagonum

These large rodents are shy and timid, but still cannot resist approaching for some veg or forage! Find them on the small pond, chilling with some of the ducks!

Species Information

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As the name suggests, maras inhabit the Patagonia region in central and southern Argentina. They are found in open space areas in arid grasslands and brush lands.

Mara’s are the 4th tallest rodent. Their physique appears like a mixture of a rodent and long-legged hooved animal, such as a deer. When in fact, they are in the Caviidae family, alongside guinea pigs and capybaras. They have strong claws on their front limbs which are beneficial for digging burrows, and strong, long hind legs make them quick runners.

These herbivorous animals primarily consuming grasses. They will also consume on different vegetation, such as flowers and cacti, and seeds. Much like their close relatives, they are coprophagous, meaning they ingest their own faeces to reabsorb the nutrients they did not absorb initially.

Approximately 14 years.

Mara’s are usually found in their monogamous mating pairs, but also do live in large groups in their dens. They are diurnal (active during the day) and are very cryptic, vigilant, and wary, which is beneficial to avoid predators.

Females only go into oestrus 3-4 times a year, and this window only occurs for 30 minutes! Gestation lasts around 100 days, with the female typically giving birth to one to three well-developed young who are grazing with the first 24 hours of being born. Females invest and spend more time with the offspring than the males do, but males aggressively and fiercely defend their monogamous mate.

Near Threatened. The mara population is decreasing due to resource competition with introduced domestic sheep, hunting, and diseases introduced by the invasive European hare.

Patagonian maras move around in many ways. They hop like a rabbit, gallop like a horse, and stot on all fours like a gazelle – a behaviour believed to show off their fitness to discourage predatory threats.