Mountain viscacha

Lagidium peruanum

TAXONOMY

Lagidium peruanum (Meyen, 1833) Pisacoma, Puno Department, Peru.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Peruvian mountain viscacha, common mountain viscacha; French: Viscache du Pérou.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Weight averages 2.9 lb (1.3 kg), head and body length 14.8 in (375 mm), and tail 10.5 in (267 mm). Rabbit-sized with powerful legs and long tail. Fur is thick and soft, dorsal pelage is gray to orange with lighter ventral region. Tip of tail is dark, ears long, and four digits on front and hind feet.

DISTRIBUTION

Andes mountains in Peru at elevations ranging between 9,840 and 16,400 ft (3,000-5,000 m).

HABITAT

Prefers dry, rocky, habitats between the timber line and snow line of the Andes mountains with sparse vegetation and coarse grasses. Often found near water that offers better vegetation than the drier regions within their habitat. Seeks shelter in rocky crevices.

BEHAVIOR

Diurnal species that is active throughout the year. Leaps among rocks and performs a series of whistles and trills associated with warning. Colonial structure composed of small family units of two to five individuals in a subdivided colony that can be as large as 75 animals.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Herbivorous, feeds on grasses, lichens, and mosses occurring at high elevations.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Males tend to be promiscuous. Gestation is 140 days, litter size of one precocial offspring.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not listed by the IUCN.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS Harvested by humans for food and pelts. ♦

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