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Animal World: Our Co-inhabitants

The Amazing Patagonian Mara-People

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Did you know that the other kinds of fauna in this part of South America respect Patagonian mara couples? Among rodent-people, we are the world’s fourth-largest species and the second-largest member of the Caviidae clan. An adult male can be up to 75 centimeters long, plus a short tail. A big guy like that would probably weigh approximately 16 kilograms. We females tend to be a little smaller.

Our physical characteristics include large ears, long front legs, and a little tail with no hair. Furthermore, our elongated skull points to a prominent nose with wide black nostrils. Our grayish-brown fur is coarse and dense, with a white patch on the stomach and muted orange around our cheeks and chest. We have clocked up to 72 kilometers per hour, just behind our brown hare cousins. That means we’re close to making the Top 10 list of the world’s fastest terrestrial animal-people!

Being a social species, we live in large groups. As incurable romantics, we fall for and remain faithful to one partner. In Patagonia, most of our young are born in September and October. They are transported to a special burrow, where only one pair of parents is allowed inside at a time. It will be about three months of this routine before the toddlers are weaned and ready to forage for food with their parents in the outer world.

Another interesting aspect of our lives as Patagonian mara-people is our significant impact on the ecosystem. We are thankful for the plants we eat and, in turn, help with their propagation through dispersing their seeds.

Patagonian mara-people are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Our population has been decreasing, mainly due to habitat loss. I hesitate to mention this because it is so unpleasant, but Patagonian mara-people are also hunted and killed for their fur, which is used to produce bed linens and throw rugs. Please look for more humane and sustainable alternatives, such as faux fur, and try eating a vegan diet.

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