Cui

Galea musteloides

SUBFAMILY

Caviinae

TAXONOMY

Galea musteloides Meyen, 1832, Paso de Tacna, Peru.

OTHER COMMON NAMES English: Yellow-toothed cavy.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Short legs and large head. Head and body length average 6.8 in (175 mm), tailless, and weighs 10.5-21 oz (300-600 g). Females tend to be heavier than males. Upper parts are agouti and ventral surface is a pale white. Digits show little reduction and are clawed.

DISTRIBUTION

Found in southern Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, and the northern portion of Chile.

HABITAT

Habitat is varied and includes savanna and thorn shrubs, grasslands, and scrub forests. Populations can be found at several elevations up to 16,404 ft (5,000 m).

BEHAVIOR

The cui is diurnal, colonial, and forms a male linear dominance hierarchy that is established and maintained by aggression in the form of threats and attacks; the level of aggression is dependent upon both age and sex, and females are generally dominant over males of the same age. In captivity, females have been observed to communally nurse young. Display a variety of vocalizations associated with sexual encounters, aggression, and warning.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Herbivorous and feeds on grasses, forbs, and other vegetation. Individuals observed feeding throughout the day.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Breeding is promiscuous, and females may breed with more than one male. Evidence of multiple paternity has been confirmed. Presumably, low success of single male mating is the result of promiscuity on the part of the female. Breeding appears to be continuous with females capable of producing up to seven litters per year. Apparently, males can induce ovulation in females by copulation. Gestation is 53-54 days. In comparison to other cavids, testes size of males is large.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Common, not threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Potential agricultural pest. ♦

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