Lagidium viscaciasouthern viscacha

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Geographic Range

The mountain viscacha is found in the extreme southern portion of Peru, Western and Central Bolivia, Northern and Central Chile, and in Western Argentina.

Habitat

Viscachas inhabit rugged, rocky mountanous country with sparse vegetation.

Physical Description

Like all members of this family, viscachas have thick, soft pelage, except on their tails where it is coarse. They have pale yellow or grey upper parts, and a black tail tip. Overall, viscachas look like rabbits. They have long, fur covered ears, edged with a fringe of white fur. All feet have four digits. The enamal of the incisors is not colored.

  • Range mass
    3.000 (high) kg
    6.61 (high) lb

Reproduction

Mating occurs from October through December. After a gestation of 120-140 days, a female gives birth to a single, precocious young. The young are born fully furred, with their eyes open, and are able to eat solid food on their first day of life. Nursing continues for eight weeks. Females are remarkable for the large number of ova they ovulate (around 300) during each estrus period.

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • Range number of offspring
    1.000 to 2.000
  • Average number of offspring
    1.5
    AnAge
  • Range gestation period
    120 to 135 days
  • Range weaning age
    56 (high) days

Lifespan/Longevity

  • Average lifespan
    Status: captivity
    19.5 years
    AnAge

Behavior

These animals are diurnal and most active near sunrise and sunset. They spend the day on perches, grooming and sunning themselves. They are adept at moving over rocky surfaces. They do not hibernate.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Mountain viscachas are reputed to eat just about any plant they encounter. Their diet is principally composed of grasses, mosses and lichens.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Mountain viscachas are hunted for both meat and fur.

  • Positive Impacts
  • food
  • body parts are source of valuable material

Conservation Status

Populations are declining due to hunting by local peoples.

Contributors

Nancy Shefferly (author), Animal Diversity Web.

Glossary

Neotropical

living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

folivore

an animal that mainly eats leaves.

food

A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.

herbivore

An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

mountains

This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

tactile

uses touch to communicate

young precocial

young are relatively well-developed when born

References

Nowak, R.M. and J.L. Paradiso. 1983. Wlaker's Mammals of the World, Fourth edition. John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, London.