Physical characteristics

A figure-eight cusp pattern on the cheek teeth is the major diagnostic characteristic for the family. Members of the family are rat-like in appearance with stocky bodies, short legs, relatively large heads, and rounded ears. Relative to other families of hystricognath rodents, octodontids are small, not exceeding a head and body length of 7.7 in (195 mm) and a weight of 10.6 oz (300 g). The fur is dense and silky, and the dorsal pelage varies in color from pale gray to black. The ventral pelage is lighter, appearing almost white in some species. The coruro, Spalacopus cyanus, has the darkest pelage with many individuals being entirely black, and species living in arid regions tend to have paler-colored pelage. Species show little digit reduction, and have clawed digits for digging as well as long bristles between the digits. With the exception of coruros and rock rats of the genus Aconaemys, most species have relatively long tails that are distinctly tufted.

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