Ashy chinchilla rat

Abrocoma cinerea

TAXONOMY

Abrocoma cinerea Thomas, 1919, Cerro Casabindo, Jujuy Province, Argentina.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Chinchilla rat; French: Rat chinchilla; German: Chinchillaratte; Spanish: Ratón chinchilla de cola corta.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

6-10 in (15-25 cm) from tip of nose to rump; tail 2.4-7.2 in (6-18 cm) long; 7.1-10.6 oz (200-300 g). Fur is silver-gray above and lighter below.

DISTRIBUTION

Altiplano of the South American Andes, from southern Bolivia and Peru into the central region of Chile.

HABITAT

Rocky regions at elevations of 12,000-16,400 ft (3,700-5,000 m). Typically live in burrows that are built under rocks or at the base of a shrub.

BEHAVIOR

Live in colonies of up to six individuals. Burrows can be very close together. Communicate using a variety of sounds.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Herbivorous; the diet includes seeds, fruits, and nuts. They are nocturnal feeders.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Mate in January or February. Gestation period is 115 to 118 days. Litters are typically one or two young. Other details unknown as of 2003.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not listed by the IUCN, but presumed rare as a result of over-hunting and habitat destruction.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

No economic significance or importance, other than to unscrupulous merchants. ♦

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