Monday, October 11, 2010

ABC Wednesday: M is for Mara

Maras (, Dolichotis patagonum in this case, there is one other species) are also known as Patagonian Hares or Cavy. They are rodents and related to guinea pigs and capybaras. They live only in Argentinia, where they populate grasslands, with some scrubs and trees for cover.
Here's something unusual: a white Mara. It's not an albino, it's two siblings and both parents are coloured normally. This condition is called leucism, which means that no pigments at all can be produced or only in small amounts. Albinos just can't produce melanine.

Maras travel in pairs and they are monogamous, often mating for life. They can be found in large groups when food is plenty, though. Females are only ready to mate for a very short time - half an hour every three months or so, which may be one reason for the monogamous lifestyle.
Baby maras are able to walk right after being born. They are kept in a kindergarden where several pairs deposit their young and one pair keeps watch. The females will come to nurse their young and usually they will face the problem of letting only their own babies drink because all others will try, too. The babies are weaned when they are about 80 days old.
Maras are threatened by loss of habitat and by introduced animals like hares and cattle who compete with them for food. They are often seen in zoos and can become quite tame. I took these photos at Hagenbecks Tierpark in Hamburg and the Maras there will come really close when you keep still, although they won't let you touch them.

See what else M stands for with the ABC Wednesday meme


MorningAJ said...

Amazing looking animals. How big are they?

Sylvia K said...

I love it when I learn something new and I have never seen a Mara before! What a delightful little animal they are! Terrific choice for the M Day and your photos are superb as always! Hope your week is going well, Jennifer!


Cezar and Léia said...

It's so interesting!Mara is adorable and your pictures magnificent!

photowannabe said...

They are kind of cute in a strange sort of way. Thanks for the interesting information.

Roger Owen Green said...

very interesting tale; I knew nothing of this creature.

ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Sara Katt said...

Such sweet little furry animals. I really like your blog. This is the kind of post that I like and approve of
Well done!
Sara Cat
Sara Cat's abcWED-round-7-M

Mara said...

Here I was, getting all exited and then it's only the critter and not me! But you got some great shots of them.

Tumblewords: said...

These are amazing. They resemble a horse, a deer and a rabbit, too!

EG Wow said...

I'm not surprised they are threatened since they live in such a small area...compared to many species. Very interesting!

Gramma Ann said...

The Maras are kind of cute.

Granny Smith said...

I remember being fascinated by these lovely little animals on the Buenos Aires Zoo and also loose in some of the parks. They always reminded me of a cross between a rabbit and a small deer.

Kay L. Davies said...

They look like a cross between a rabbit and a deer. Quite something!!

Kay, Alberta

Wanda said...

Can't wait each week to come and see your Special little friends.

These are darling too.... Thanks.

Jingle said...

you taught me Maras, never heard before.
Thanks for sharing!
thoughtful demonstration!

ChrisJ said...

It is amazing just how many creatures there are in the world that are virtually unknown except in their locale. These look so interesting. I wonder if they can be made into pets.

the booker man said...

very interesting post! i knew nothing of maras beforehand. i find them quite cute, which is not usually the case for a rodent. ;)