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