Mara (Patagonian) / Dolichotis patagonum

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The Patagonian mara is the third largest rodent species after the capybara and beaver

Maras can walk, hop like a rabbit, gallop and bounce on all fours – known as stotting – because their rear legs are longer than their forelegs

Mara are large rodents, closely related to the Guinea pig. They are also known as Patagonian cavies or hares.

Maras inhabit dry arid grassland and brushlands where they feed mainly on grass, but will take any available vegetation.

They are diurnal, or day active, and travel in pairs which gather into large groups containing up to 70 individuals.

They mate for life and often breed two or three times in a year. The well-developed young, which can walk soon after birth, are moved to communal underground dens known as crèches.

This can be home to the offspring of as many as 15 pairs but females care solely for their own young which they recognise by smell.

Females become mature at around three months while males reach maturity at six months.

Mara are preyed upon by cats, foxes and birds of prey. In order to avoid predators maras use their acute eyesight and hearing to locate danger, and their white rump colouration as a warning signal to other mara.

They escape using their long legs to run at speeds of up to 29 kph.