Red viscacha rat

Tympanoctomys barrerae

TAXONOMY

Tympanoctomys barrerae (Lawrence, 1941), La Paz, Mendoza Province, Argentina.

OTHER COMMON NAMES English: Plains viscacha rat.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Head and body length averages 5 in (128 mm); tail 5.7 in (145 mm); weight 5 oz (143 g). Enlarged tympanic bullae and head. Dorsal pelage pale, white hind feet, and tail darker and possessing longer hairs near the tip.

DISTRIBUTION

Restricted to arid area the Mendoza Province in Argentina.

HABITAT

Occupies arid regions characterized by shrubs and halophytic (salt-rich) vegetation. Plants usually patchily distributed.

BEHAVIOR

Shows physiological and morphological adaptations to arid climates. Constructs complex burrow system and caches food. Nocturnal and solitary.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Herbivore that specializes on diets consisting of leaves and stems from plants with high salt content, specifically Het-erostachys ritteriana. Uses lower incisors and bristle brush located on each side of the mouth to remove excess salt prior to ingesting plant material.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Precocial young that eat solid food within days of being born.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Listed as Vulnerable by IUCN as a result of restricted range and specialized habitat requirements.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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