Dolichotis patagonum (Zimmermann, 1780)

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 : 437-438

publication ID 10.5281/zenodo.6585510


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Dolichotis patagonum


19. View Plate 25: Caviidae

Patagonian Mara

Dolichotis patagonum View in CoL

French: Mara de Patagonie / German: Grof 3er Pampashase / Spanish: Mara de Patagonia

Other common names: Mara, Patagonian Cavy, Patagonian Hare

Taxonomy. Cavia patagonum Zimmermann, 1780 ,

type locality not given. Identified by G. H. H. Tate in 1935 as “Patagonia,” Argentina .

Two subspecies are recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution.


D. p. centricola Thomas, 1902 — NW Argentina, in S Catamarca, E La Rioja, SW Santiago del Estero, and NW Cordoba provinces. View Figure

Descriptive notes. Head-body 600-800 mm, tail averages 25-40 mm, ear 90-103 mm, hindfoot 130-160 mm; weigh 7-9 kg. Greatest lengths of skull are 125-135 mm. The Patagonian Mara is the larger of the two species of Dolichotis . Both species are agoutigray dorsally and have whitish venter and flanks. Rump of the Patagonian Mara has a very distinct white patch, separated from dorsum by a dark line, making the patch very prominent. Flanks, cheeks, chin, and chest are orange-brown. Head and ears are large for the body, which combined with elongated limbs gives maras a hare-like appearance.

Habitat. Variety of open habitats, including grasslands, shrublands, and other semiarid open areas.

Food and Feeding. Patagonian Maras are herbivorous and feed preferentially on grasses, but they also eat a variety of shrubs and forbs. Recent research shows that grasses are selected even when abundances of other plants are higher.

Breeding. In Patagonia, reproduction occurs once a year, with average littersize of two young. Gestation is ¢.100 days. Young Patagonian Maras are highly precocial at birth, and females can reproduce at c¢.8 months of age. Females have four pairs of ventral mammae. Reproductive success is higher when Patagonia Maras use warrens in open grassy habitats than in more sheltered tall shrub habitats. Therefore, overgrazing by domestic livestock could cause a decline of maras throughout their distribution.

Activity patterns. Patagonian Maras are diurnal and active all day, with peaks in early morning and late afternoon.

Movements, Home range and Social organization. Patagonian Maras are among the few monogamous mammals, and adults form stable pair bonds. Pairs avoid each other, maintaining separation as they forage. During the breeding season, there is more social tolerance and multiple pairs will use a communal den or warren. Male Patagonian Maras remain actively vigilant. Survival of young is enhanced in large warrens. Home ranges are highly variable (33-198 ha) and average 98 ha. Home range size depends on density of forage resources. There is overlap in home ranges among pairs, and their locations drift throughout the year,likely in response to patterns of resource depletion.

Status and Conservation. Classified as Near Threatened on The IUCN Red List. The Patagonian Mara has declined by ¢.30% over the past 10 years. Its widespread distribution has become increasingly fragmented by conversion of grasslands to pasture, and it is affected by hunting.

Bibliography. Baldi (2007), Canevari & Vaccaro (2007), Dubost & Genest (1974), Dunnum (2015), Redford & Eisenberg (1992), Sombra & Mangione (2005), Taber & Macdonald (1992a, 1992b), Tate (1935), Woods & Kilpatrick (2005).














Dolichotis patagonum

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

Cavia patagonum

Zimmermann 1780
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