Saltdesert cavy

Pediolagus salinicola

SUBFAMILY

Dolichotinae

TAXONOMY

Pediolagus salinicola (Burmeister, 1876), southwest Catamarca Province, Argentina.

OTHER COMMON NAMES Spanish: Mara chico.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Head and body length averages 17.1-17.7 in (435-450 mm), tail averages 0.9 in (24 mm), and the weight is 4.6-5.9 lb (2.1-2.7 kg). Basic body form is similar to the mara. The pelage is thick, with the dorsal region being agouti, sides lighter, and the under parts white. Has a distinct band of either white or yellow extending around the flank region to the stomach. Sides of the face are tan colored, and white patches appear behind the eyes. Highly adapted for cursorial locomotion.

DISTRIBUTION

Overlaps with the larger mara, occurring in the southern portion of Bolivia, northern Argentina, and the Chaco of Paraguay.

HABITAT

Prefers low, arid or semiarid flats characterized by thorn scrub and woody vegetation. Also occurs in temperate steppe regions.

BEHAVIOR

Diurnal and digs burrows. Forms social groups consisting of an adult pair and young. Animals scent mark and reveal play activity characterized by frisky hops and rolling in sand where scent marking has occurred. Females tend to nurse their young while sitting in open areas, and males tend to show little evidence of extended parental care. Vocalizations are warning calls consisting of a whine. Relationship among individuals is a linear male dominance hierarchy, and alpha males dominate subordinates with aggressive encounters. Females are less aggressive toward each other.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Herbivorous, with dietary preferences that vary seasonally. In the Chaco region, the diet consists of over 28 species of forbs, 26 species of shrubs, and eight species of grasses. The most popular food items were plant species not preferred by livestock. Grasses preferred during the rainy season, and succulent vegetation during the dry season. Generally forage on lower leaves of bushes, but also stand upright and feed on higher vegetation by grasping with front paws. They have been observed to climb during foraging.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Gestation period averages 77 days in the wild and approximately 75 days in captive populations. Two offspring are born per litter, and young are weaned around four weeks of age.

CONSERVATION STATUS Not listed by the IUCN.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

Common name /

Physical

Habitat and

Conservation

Scientific name

characteristics

behavior

Distribution

Diet

status

Shiny guinea pig

Coarse, long pelage, crest of hair on neck.

Open grasslands, forest edge,

Southeastern Brazil.

Many of kinds of

Not threatened

Cavia fulgida

Color is grayish or brownish. Short legs,

swamps, and rocky areas,

vegetation.

and short, unfurred ears. Head and body

sometimes at elevations up

length 7.8-15.7 in (20-40 cm), weight

to 13,800 ft (4,200 m). Live

17.6-52.9 oz (500-1,500 g).

in small groups, usually five

to 10 individuals.

Domestic guinea pig

Stocky body with short legs. Color

In the wild, they can be found

Northwestern

Commercial pellets,

Not threatened

Cavia porcellus

varies from white, black, red, cream,

in temperate forest and rain-

Venezuela to central

fruits, and vegetables.

lilac, to brown or a combination of these

forest, temperate grassland.

Chile.

colors. Length, texture depends on breed.

Very social, live in groups of

Head and body length 7.8-19.7 in (20-

five to 10 individuals. Breed

50 cm).

continuously throughout the year.

Yellow-toothed cavy

Upperparts are agouti-colored, under-

Grasslands at high or low

Brazil.

Grasses, forbs, and

Not threatened

Galea flavidens

parts are grayish white. No external tail.

elevations, as well as rocky

other kinds of

Head and body length 6-10 in (15-25

and brushy areas. Live in

vegetation.

cm), weight 10.6-21.2 oz (300-600 g).

groups, female hierarchy

weaker than male hierarchy.

Breed throughout the year.

Rock cavy

Tail is absent. Upperparts are grayish

Near stony mountains or

Eastern Brazil.

Mainly tender leaves.

Not threatened

Kerodon rupestris

with white and black mottling, throat is

hills, seeking shelter under

white, underparts are yellowish brown.

rocks or in the fissures

Nails are blunt and sharp. Adult weight

between stones, sometimes

31.7-35.3 oz (900-1,000 grams).

making a burrow under the

stones. Births occur through

out the year.

Andean mountain cavy

No external tail, upperparts are olive

In high mountains.

Southwestern Bolivia

Leaves and fruits.

Not threatened

Microcavia niata

gray agouti, underparts are pale gray.

Population size varies.

in the high Andes.

Prominent white ring around eyes. Head

Considered a pest.

and body length 7.9-8.6 in (20-22 cm),

weight 7.1-52.9 oz (200-500 g).

Greater guinea pig

Coarse, long pelage, crest of hair on

Open grasslands, forest edge,

Dept. of Rocha,

Many kinds of

Not threatened

Cavia magna

neck. Color is grayish or brownish.

swamps, and rocky areas,

Uruguay, to Estados

vegetation.

Short legs, and short, unfurred ears.

sometimes at elevations up

Rio Grande del Sur and

Head and body length 7.9-15.7 in

to 13,800 ft (4,200 m). Live

Santa Catarina, Brazil.

(20-40 cm), weight 17.6-52.9 oz

in small groups, usually five

(500-1,500 g).

to 10 individuals.

Montane guinea pig

Coarse, long pelage, crest of hair on

Open grasslands, forest

Peru, southern Bolivia,

Many kinds of vegetation.

Not threatened

Cavia tschudii

neck. Color is grayish or brownish.

edge, swamps, and rocky

northwestern Argentina,

Short legs, and short, unfurred ears.

areas, sometimes at

and northern Chile.

Head and body length 7.9-15.7 in (20-

elevations up to 13,800 ft

40 cm), weight 17.6-52.9 oz (500-

(4,200 m). Live in small

1,500 g).

groups, usually five to 10

individuals.

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