Reproductive biology

Pacaranas make crying vocalizations during the breeding season to attract sexual partners. Individuals in first-time malefemale encounters most often communicate with hisses,

Pacaranas (Dinomys branickii) are the third largest living rodent. (Photo by Tom McHugh/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

growls, and staccato whimpering sounds. If courtship ensues, the male vocalizes with a string of whimpering notes that he may segue into singing lasting up to two minutes. As the two approach each other more closely, they touch noses, sniff genitals, and begin an elaborate contact ritual that looks like a combination of dancing and wrestling. The two stand bipedally, grappling, and interlocking their incisors. Courtship moves may include ritual head-tosses and dancing, ending at last with mounting. The male's forelegs tremble as he approaches the female, a common courtship ritual in rodents. Males may also approach bipedally, with an erect penis.

Pregnant females have been seen in February and May, while births have been observed in January and February. A pregnant female will show a sudden weight gain at about 90 days of gestation, and she can become irritable. No nest building by pregnant or postpartum females has been observed.

The gestation period of captive animals ranges from 222 to 283 days, and the common litter size is one or two. A new-

born pacarana weighs about 32 oz (900 g). The infant is pre-cocial, i.e., fully furred and able to see and move about, groom itself, and actively investigate its new world within a few days of birth. Weaning period and age of sexual maturity for pacaranas are as yet unknown.

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