- Firstly, the Mara represents a small genus within the cavy family. Currently, we know of only two separate species of this genus still existing.
- Also, these two related but distinct species have been given the common names of the Chacoan and the Patagonian maras.
- Genetically, this rather surprising genus also appears to be closely related to the much smaller guinea pig. Appearances can be rather deceiving.
- This unique animal also constitutes the fourth largest known rodent on earth.
- It also has the ability to move much faster than most rodents, being capable of running or hopping at speeds of as much as 18 mph (30 kph).
Mara Physical Description
The rather surprising Mara possesses a stocky physique, with three sharply clawed toes on its rear feet, and four on the front feet. Many people, therefore, compare its appearance to a long-legged rabbit.
The animal typically displays a dark brown on its head and body. The hindquarters remain darker and sometimes almost black, yet the stomachs generally show white.
Individuals also average roughly 18 in (45 cm) in height. Mature individuals also weigh as much as 24 lb (11 kg).
- Kingdom: Animalia
- Phylum: Chordata
- Class: Mammalia
- Order: Rodentia
- Family: Caviidae
- Genus: Dolichotis
Mara Distribution, Habitat, and Ecology
The fascinating Mara, both species, evolved as endemic to several regions of South America. It remains unclear if the animal ever possessed a greater distribution.
While the animal does appear in other areas in small numbers, it also appears to be most common in Paraguay and the Patagonian steppes of Argentina.
Depending upon its precise habitat, it generally prefers to live in regions consisting of grasslands and small shrubs, specifically the pampas of Argentina.
This creature usually takes a lifetime mate, remaining monogamous. While it typically only gives birth once per year, up to four litters per year is not unknown.
The Mara feeds entirely as a herbivore. The diet consists primarily of a combination of green vegetation, grass, and fruit.