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Patagonian Cavy

Range: Western  South America-Argentina, Patagonia. 

Natural Diet: Primarily a grazer, similar to it's close cousin the guinea pig, this animal is strictly a vegetarian.  In captivity the diet of the cavy is much more varied than in the wild.

Diet at RainForest: Fruits, vegetables, and grasses.   

Size: 6-20 pounds

RainForest Facts:   This endearing animal resembles a cross between a young deer and a common hare or rabbit.  Long legs are used for both digging and running. This animal has been recorded at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. 

The Cavy belongs to a large group of primarily new world rodents. That includes the very popular pet guinea pig, in fact it is common for the guinea pig to be referred to as a cavy.  

Much like their more ubiquitous cousins, the Patagonian cavy, or Mara, gives birth to two or three extremely well developed babies that are born after an unusually long gestation for a rodent, averaging 100 days. 

Since this species lives in the southern hemisphere they typically give birth in the months immediately preceding the dry season, generally in September, but may give birth as late as October.

Baby cavies are born able to begin consuming solid foods not long after birth. 

Diurnal in nature the Cavy in the wild will generally graze for food during the early morning and late evening hours.

The cavy tends to live in loose knit groups made up of pairs that typically bond for life. 

A rodent, the Cavy, or Mara, is actually the fourth largest of all rodents species. Only being eclipsed by its close cousin ,the Capybara, as well as the old world porcupines and the North American beaver.   Large, and fast this species can readily be identified in it's native habitat. 

Status in the Wild: As is often the case when wild species begin to intermingle with introduced species such as farm animals (sheep, cattle, and goats) the wild and more timid animal is often displaced.  IUCN lists the cavy as Near Threatened. 

The very same type of habitat that the cavy would normally find suitable, open grazing lands, is exactly what the local farmers prefer for their hoof stock.  On a positive note it does appear that the cavy is quite capable of accepting the domestic animals in it's habitat, not unlike wild domestic rabbits in the U.S grazing among cattle etc.