Feeding ecology and diet

All species are herbivorous, and with the exception of cu-ruros, most species forage aboveground. Species living in less arid environments feed on a variety of plant materials, including grasses, leaves, bark, fruits, and forbs. Highly fosso-

A degu (Octodon degus) mother with babies. (Photo by Animals Animals ©Robert Maier. Reproduced by permission.)
The degu (Octodon degus) is also known as the South American bush rat. (Photo by J-C Carton. Bruce Coleman, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

rial forms like cururos feed on underground portions of plants, and desert-adapted species like the red viscacha rat are adapted for feeding on the stems and leaves of plants rich in salt. In 1997, Mares and others described adaptations that allow the red viscacha rat to feed on halophytic plants. This species has bundles of hairs on each side of the mouth that function as an extra pair of incisors for the removal of salt from leaves. Other species feed on fruits of cacti, seeds, and other plant materials.

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