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Paca (Lowland or Spotted)

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Cuniculus paca

Range

They are found from northeastern Mexico south to Northern Argentina and Brazil.

Habitat

They live in a variety of forest habitats near water.

Body Traits

They are reddish brown with rows of light spots down their sides and lighter underneath. Males can weigh up to 25 pounds (12 kg) and measure up to 32 inches long (82 cm). Females are somewhat smaller. They have a blunt head and small ears. They have small legs, but the back legs are larger and more muscular than the front legs.  They have four toes on their front feet and five toes on their back feet. They have little or no tail.

Habits

They live in burrows coming out at night to feed (nocturnal). They have one mate that they stay with for life. They are territorial and pairs will work together to defend their area from other animals. They are good swimmers. When threatened, they jump into the water and can stay submerged for several minutes. They also may freeze in place and allow their cryptic coloring to hide them from predators.

Diet

They eat fallen fruit mainly, but will also feed on plants, seeds, nuts, and roots.

Predators

They are killed by jaguars, boa constrictors, ocelots, and other large predators as well as humans, who see them as agricultural tests.

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Reproduction

Females are pregnant for about four months (gestation) and give birth to one or two young. She will nurse her young for about three months. Young are born with the ability to move around and eat solid food. They follow their mother around and learn from her. She may or may not have a second litter per year, depending upon the availability of food.

Lifespan and/or Conservation Status

They can live up to 12 years in the wild. They are not endangered.

Classification

Kingdom: Chordata
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Cuniculidae
Genus: Cuniculus
Species: Cuniculus paca

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