Zaedyus pichiypichi

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Geographic Range

Living in grasslands and open pampas, Zaedyus pichiy can be found in Chile, South Argentina, and Patagonia, south to the Strait of Magellan (Macdonald, 1984; Nowak, 1999).

Habitat

The pichi is found in the grasslands and arid regions of southern South America. It usually resides in areas with sandy soils. It burrows underground but is found above ground both during night and day (Macdonald, 1984; Nowak, 1999).

Physical Description

The head and body length of -Zaedyus pichiy- is between 260-335mm while the tail length is about 100-140mm. The pichi has very small ears, well developed claws, and dark brown armor. The armor usually has white to yellow edges with hairs sticking up between them; hairs range from mostly black bristles to longer yellow and white hairs. The tail is usually yellow (Nowak, 1999).

  • Range mass
    1 to 2 kg
    2.20 to 4.41 lb
  • Average basal metabolic rate
    2.192 W
    AnAge

Reproduction

Little is known about the reproduction of -Zaedyus pichiy-. It is speculated that it breeds all year with a gestation period of about 60 days. The pichi has litters of 1-3 babies weighing about 95-115g which are weaned at about 6 weeks. Life expectancy is guessed to be at about 9 years (Nowak, 1999).

  • Key Reproductive Features
  • gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)
  • sexual
  • Average number of offspring
    2
    AnAge
  • Average gestation period
    60 days
    AnAge
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    Sex: female
    320 days
    AnAge
  • Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    Sex: male
    320 days
    AnAge

Lifespan/Longevity

Behavior

The pichi is usually nocturnal, but does exhibit some activity by day. They are a solitary species and have been known to enter torpor in the winter. Zaedyus pichiy digs shallow holes for shelter and to avoid predators. Their defensive behavior is to pull legs and arms under their armor so that the edges are in contact with the ground. Once this is done, the predator cannot get to the softer underbelly, and the rest of the body is protected by its armor. The pichi usually maintains a variable body temperature of about 24.0-35.2 degrees Celsius (Nowak, 1999; Macdonald, 1984).

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

The pichi's diet usually consists of insects, worms, some plant matter (like tubers), carrion, and other animal matter. It has also been known to eat some rodents and lizards (Parker, 1990; Nowak, 1999; Macdonald, 1984).

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Some people have used -Zaedyus pichiy- as pets and it has been known to be used as a tasty food source (Macdonald, 1984; Nowak, 1999).

Conservation Status

The pichi is still abundant in its natural environment and is widely distributed. It has no special conservation status yet (Parker (ed.), 1990).

Contributors

Christina Schreffler (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Phil Myers (editor), Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.

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.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

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

nocturnal

active during the night

sedentary

remains in the same area

sexual

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

solitary

lives alone

tactile

uses touch to communicate

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.

savanna

A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.

References

Macdonald, D. 1984. Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford: Equinox.

Nowak, R. 1999. Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore and London: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Parker, S. 1990. Grzimek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: McGraw-Hill.