Galea spixii, Meyen, 1832

Don E. Wilson, Thomas E. Lacher, Jr & Russell A. Mittermeier, 2016, Caviidae, Handbook of the Mammals of the World – Volume 6 Lagomorphs and Rodents I, Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, pp. 406-438 : 435

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Galea spixii


10. View Plate 25: Caviidae

Spix’s Yellow-toothed Cavy

Galea spixii View in CoL

French: Cobaye de Spix / German: Spix-Wieselmeerschweinchen / Spanish: Cuy de Spix

Taxonomy. Cavia spixii Wagler, 1831 ,

“Amazonenstrome [= Amazon River].” Clarified by W. H. Osgood in 1915 to “Campos Geraes de San Felipe ... lying just east of ... Januaria, Bahia [= in Minas Gerais state],” Brazil. Restricted by A. Cabrera in 1961 to Lagoa Santa, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Three subspecies are recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution.



G. s. wellsi Osgood, 1915 — NE Brazil, restricted to lowland caatinga semiarid regions. View Figure

Descriptive notes. Head-body 225-234 mm, ear 25-26, hindfoot 46-51 mm; weight c.400 g (maximum 520 g). Greatest length of skull is 55-57-5 mm. Adult Spix’s Yellowtoothed Cavies are gray tinged, with brown back, light sides, and whitish abdomen. There are two small white marks, one above the eye and the other behind the ear. Incisors are yellow.

Habitat. Semiarid caatinga thornscrub woodlands and disturbed areas with cultivation. Spix’s Yellow-toothed Cavies form well-marked runways that they use regularly. They also clear small areas for sand bathing. They do not construct burrows, likely due to extremely rocky soil in the caatinga, but they construct temporary nest sites under rocks or low vegetation.

Food and Feeding. Spix’s Yellow-toothed Cavies are herbivorous, foraging on grasses and other low vegetation.

Breeding. Reproduction of Spix’s Yellow-toothed Cavy was continuous in a large seminatural colony. Females underwent postpartum estrus, and gestation lasted 49-52 days. Litter size averaged 2-2 young (range 1-5).

Activity patterns. Spix’s Yellow-toothed Cavies are active year-round and at any time of the day. Peak activity is crepuscular.

Movements, Home range and Social organization. Home range estimates of Spix’s Yellow-toothed Cavies in caatinga averaged 872 m? for males and 632 m” for females. Male and female home ranges overlapped extensively. Males scent-marked territories and were very aggressive toward each other. Males and females have strong linear dominance hierarchies, and females seem to exhibit some mate choice when interacting with males. Mating system is promiscuous, tending toward a form of male dominance polygyny.

Status and Conservation. Classified as Least Concern on The IUCN Red List. Spix’s Yellow-toothed Cavy is abundant throughoutits large distribution and tolerates moderate levels of habitat modification.

Bibliography. Adrian & Sachser (2011), Cabrera (1961), Dunnum (2015), Eisenberg & Redford (1999), da Fonseca et al. (1996), Lacher (1981), de Oliveira & Bonvicino (2006), Osgood (1915), Woods & Kilpatrick (2005).














Galea spixii

Don E. Wilson, Thomas E. Lacher, Jr & Russell A. Mittermeier 2016

Cavia spixii

Wagler 1831
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