Patagonian Cavy
Dolichotis patagonum

CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Rodentia
FAMILY: Caviidae

Length of head and body 27 - 30 inches; tail 1.5 inch; weight 20 - 33 lbs.

Patagonia (South America)


Wild - Grasses and other plants
Zoo - Herbivore diet, lettuce and fruit

Reminds one of a hare because of its long ears and its long slender legs. Shape of claws also resembles that of a hoof. The coat is gray-brown.


  • Diurnal; terrestrial
  • Usually 3 - 4 travel together, but groups up to 40 have been seen.
  • Cavies walk when undisturbed; for speed they hop like rabbits, gallop, or strot (bounce on all 4 limbs at once) sometimes for long distances.
  • Swift runner and makes leaps of up to 6.5 feet.
  • Spends considerable time basking in sun.
  • Digs dens in the ground or else uses burrows of other animals such as armadillos.
  • White on inside of tail serves as an alarm signal when the memebers of the group are threatened. Cavies are ever on the alert for danger.

Female prepares a nest inside the den in which she gives birth to 2 - 3 young after a gestation period of 80 - 90 days. Her 4 nipples are situated on the sides of her body enabling her to suckle her young sitting on the hind legs with the front legs extended forward. Offspring are independent after a few weeks and reach sexual maturity at about 2 months.

Not threatened

Also called Patagonian hare or mara. Cavies were once thought to be in the order lagomorpha with hares, rabbits, etc. They are now classified as rodents.