Galea musteloides, Meyen, 1833

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 : 435-436

publication ID 10.5281/zenodo.6585510


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Galea musteloides


12. View Plate 25: Caviidae

Highland Yellow-toothed Cavy

Galea musteloides View in CoL

French: Cobaye belette / German: \Wieselmeerschweinchen / Spanish: Cuy de montana

Other common names: Common Yellow-toothed Cavy

Taxonomy. Galea musteloides Meyen, 1833 View in CoL ,

“auf dem Passe von Tacna nach dem Alpensee von Titicaca [= on the pass of Tacna to the alpine lake of Titicaca],” Peru .

Much published data on G. musteloides is actually from G. leucoblephara based on a revision of Galea by J. L. Dunnum and J. Salazar-Bravo in 2010. The “Muenster Yellow-toothed Cavy,” C. monasteriensis, is considered here a synonym of G. musteloides boliviensis. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution.



G. m. boliviensis Waterhouse, 1848 — E Bolivian Altiplano. View Figure

Descriptive notes. There are no specific data available, but external measurements are likely similar to the Lowland Yellow-toothed Cavy (G. leucoblephara). Highland Yellowtoothed Cavies are characterized by brownish fur, with yellowish to olive dorsal tinge. Venteris white; dorsal and ventral colors are distinctly demarcated. Ears have covers of yellowish brown hairs—a characteristic that varies among subspecies.

Habitat. High-elevation grasslands in the central Andes. Highland Yellow-Toothed Cavies either build burrows or occupy abandoned burrows of tuco-tucos ( Ctenomys , Ctenomyidae ).

Food and Feeding. There is no information available forthis species.

Breeding. Gestation is ¢.55 days (50-58). Litter sizes are 1-7 young; neonates weigh c.40 g at birth.

Activity patterns. The Highland Yellow-toothed Cavy is diurnal and active year-round.

Movements, Home range and Social organization. Much ofthe literature on the Highland Yellow-Toothed Cavy reports it to be promiscuous, but these studies were actually conducted on the Lowland Yellow-toothed Cavy. Social behavior of the Highland Yellow-toothed Cavy was studied as the “Muenster Yellow-toothed Cavy,” now a synonym of the subspecies boliviensis. Studies on a captive colony of the Highland Yellow-toothed Cavy suggest that it is monogamous. Unfamiliar individuals are extremely aggressive toward each other, but established pairs showed no aggression, even when separated and reunited. This is a relatively rare example of monogamy in mammals, as also occurs in the Patagonian Mara ( Dolichotis patagonum ).

Status and Conservation. Classified as Data Deficient on The IUCN Red List (as G. monasteriensis, now one of three subspecies, boliviensis, of the Highland Yellow-Toothed Cavy). The current IUCN assessment applies more correctly to the broadly distributed Lowland Yellow-toothed Cavy (G. leucoblephara). The overall conservation status of the Highland Yellow-toothed Cavy needs to be reassessed.

Bibliography. Adrian & Sachser (2011), Canevari & Vaccaro (2007), Dunnum (2015), Dunnum & Salazar-Bravo (2010b), Redford & Eisenberg (1992), Woods & Kilpatrick (2005).














Galea musteloides

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

Galea musteloides

Meyen 1833
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