For other uses, see Mara.
The maras (Dolichotis) are a genus of the cavy family. They are the sole representatives of the subfamily Dolichotinae. These large relatives of guinea pigs are common in the Patagonian steppes of Argentina but live in other areas of South America as well such as Paraguay. Maras are the fourth largest rodent in the world, after capybaras, beavers, and porcupines, reaching about in height.
There are two species of maras recognised, the Patagonian Mara (Dolichotis patagonum), and the Chacoan Mara (Dolichotis salinicola). They are known as the pampas hare.
Patagonian Maras are often kept in zoos or as pets and is also known as "Patagonian cavy" or "Patagonian hare". They can be quite social with humans if raised with human interaction from a young age, though in the wild they avoid humans. Maras may even change their habits from coming out in day to becoming nocturnal, simply to avoid social interaction.
Maras mate for life, and may have from 1 to 3 offspring each year. Mara babies are very well developed, and can start grazing within 24 hours. They use a slightly hostile creche system, where one pair of adults keep watch for all the youngesters in the creche. If they spot danger, the young rush below ground into a burrow (usually dug by a burrowing owl), and the adults are left to run for it.
Physical description & movement
Maras have stocky bodies, three sharp-clawed digits on the hind feet, and four digits of the forefeet. Maras have been described as resembling long-legged rabbits. Patagonian Maras can run at speeds up to per hour. Maras can weigh over in adulthood.
Most Maras have a brown head and body, a dark almost black rump with a white fringe around the base, and a white belly.
Maras may walk normally, hop in a rabbit-like fashion, gallop, or bounce on all fours. They have been known to leap up to six feet (about 1.83 meters).
Further reading & references
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Mara (mammal)