Animal Info - Pacarana

(Other Name: Branick's Rat)

Dinomys branickii

Status: Endangered


Contents

1. Profile (Picture)
2. Tidbits
3. Status and Trends (IUCN Status, Countries Where Currently Found, History of Distribution, Threats and Reasons for Decline)
4. Data on Biology and Ecology (Weight, Habitat, Gestation Period, Birth Season, Birth Rate, Maximum Age, Diet, Behavior, Social Organization)
5. References


Profile

Picture: Pacarana (131 Kb JPEG) (Terrambiente)

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 was first described by Western science in 1873. 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.


Tidbits

*** "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)


Status and Trends

IUCN Status:

Countries Where the Pacarana Is Currently Found:

2004: Occurs in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela (IUCN 2004).

History of Distribution:

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.

Distribution Map (23 Kb) (InfoNatura) 

Threats and Reasons for Decline:

The pacarana is threatened by habitat loss and hunting by man for food.


Data on Biology and Ecology

Weight:

The pacarana weighs 10 - 15 kg (22 - 33 lb).

Habitat:

The pacarana is found in forested valleys and mountain slopes at altitudes of 240 - 2000 m (800 - 6600').

The pacarana lives in the Tropical Andes Biodiversity Hotspot (Cons. Intl. 2005).

Gestation Period:

223 - 283 days.

Birth Season:

Births have been reported in January and February. Pregnant females have been reported in February and May.

Birth Rate:

Either 1 or 2 young per litter have been reported.

Maximum Age:

At least 9 years and 5 months (captivity).

Diet:

The pacarana's diet includes fruit, leaves and stems of plants.

Behavior:

The pacarana is a slow-moving, nocturnal herbivore. It shelters in natural crevices, which it enlarges by digging with its strong claws.

Social Organization:

It has been reported that the pacarana lives in family groups including an adult pair and successive litters of young (Emmons & Feer 1997).


References

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


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Last modified: February 9, 2005;

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