Mountain paca

Agouti taczanowskii

TAXONOMY

Agouti taczanowskii (Stolzmann, 1865), Andean Ecuador. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Pace de Montagne; German: Berkpaka; Spanish: Guagua negra, tinajo, sachacuy, picure de montana, lapa andina.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Smaller than the lowland A. paca, with reddish brown fur that is shorter, denser, and softer. There is a dense undercoat for insulation. Combined this gives the impression of a thicker, woollier animal with fluffier fur. The face is less broad, with a longer snout, smaller eyes and thinner claws. There is some spotting on the back as well as on the flanks. The throat and belly are generally cream colored.

DISTRIBUTION

Andean cordilleras of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and northern Peru.

HABITAT

High cloud forest and into the tree less paramo grasslands. In Venezuela, the maximum abundance occurs between 6,560 and 10,000 ft (2,000-3,050 m).

BEHAVIOR

This species is much less well known than its lowland relative. Prefers to den in forest with a dense cover of Blechnum ferns.

Males recorded as making loud aggressive noises out of all apparent proportion to their size.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Known to eat 48 different species of plants. Eats more leaves and fungi than does A. paca.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Gestation time 165 days. Sexual maturity reached in 12-15 months. Litter size is one.

CONSERVATION STATUS Lower Risk/Near Threatened.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Not as extensively exploited for food as the lowland paca, but hunting does occur. The species is also threatened by habitat destruction and forest fragmentation. Considered nationally At risk in Venezuela where its hunting is prohibited, though this still continues even in national parks such as Guaramacal. Hunting only with permit in Colombia, where it is considered to be a species of Lower Risk. ♦

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