(Other Name: Branick's Rat)
1. Profile (Picture)
The pacarana is a large rodent, weighing 10 - 15 kg (22 - 33 lb), that has been said to
resemble an immense guinea pig or a spineless porcupine. The pacarana is found in forested
valleys and mountain slopes at altitudes of 240 - 2000 m (800 - 6600'). Its diet includes
fruit, leaves and stems of plants. The pacarana is a slow-moving, nocturnal herbivore.
It shelters in natural crevices, which it enlarges by digging with its strong claws. It
may live in family groups including an adult pair and successive litters of young.
*** "The pacarana reminds one of an immense rat well advanced in development toward a bear." (Allen, cited in Crowe 1967)
*** "Pacarana" is a Tupi Indian term meaning "false paca," referring to its resemblance to a paca.
*** Although the pacarana's scientific name, "Dinomys branickii," means "terrible mouse," it fights only as a last resort.
*** "It is said to be of a peaceful and phlegmatic disposition, a combination of leisurely movement and supreme good nature, in fact about every characteristic that makes it easy to find and destroy. The Indians value the pacarana as food and hunt them mercilessly." (Crowe 1967)
The pacarana was first described by Western science in 1873 by a Polish count named Branicki, who did research on South American wildlife for the Warsaw Museum of Natural History (Strobl 2001). It has always seemed rare, and several times it was feared to be extinct. It occurs from Colombia to western Bolivia on the lower slopes of the Andes Mountains.
The pacarana is threatened by habitat loss and hunting by man for food.
Burton & Pearson 1987, Cons. Intl. 2005, Crowe 1967, Emmons & Feer 1997, InfoNatura, IUCN 1994, IUCN 1996, IUCN 2000, IUCN 2003a, IUCN 2004, Macdonald 1984, Nowak 1999, Nowak & Paradiso 1983, Strobl 2001, Terrambiente
Last modified: February 9, 2005;