Pacaranas are distributed throughout Western South American from Colombia to Bolivia (Anderson 1984 and White 1992).
Biogeographic Regions: neotropical (Native )
Pacaranas are the third largest living rodent with a head and body length ranging from 730-790mm and a tail length of about 190mm (Anderson 1984). Pacaranas have upper parts that are typically dark brown or blackish with two discontinuous white stripes along the back and a few rows of white spots down each side (Burton 1987, Anderson 1984). The ears are relatively short and curved, the upper lip has a deep cleft, and pacaranas have many long, greyish whiskers. The feet are plantigrade and there are four digits on each foot, each with a long and powerful claw (Grzimek 1975 and White 1992).
Range mass: 10.000 to 15.000 kg.
Habitat and Ecology
Pacaranas inhabit the slopes and valleys of rainforests in the Andes mountains. They are thought to be extremely rare, although some scientists speculate that this might be due to a lack of information about the animal's true habitat (White 1992 and Matthews 1971).
Terrestrial Biomes: forest
Pacaranas mainly feed on fruits, leaves, and stems of plants (Matthews 1971).
Primary Diet: herbivore (Folivore , Frugivore , Lignivore)
Life History and Behavior
Status: captivity: 9.4 years.
Status: captivity: 9.0 years.
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
Little is known about the reproductive characteristics of this species. Pacaranas in captivity have a gestation period of 222-283 days, and the female usually gives birth to no more than two young (Grzimek 1975). Each young weighs about 900g and shows considerable activity and curiosity about its environment within just a few days of birth (White 1992). Weaning period and age of sexual maturity are not known, but the life span of captive pacaranas can be over nine years. It also seems that pacaranas "cry" in the breeding season to attract sexual partners, and males approach females in a bipedal position during courtship (Anderson 1984).
Range number of offspring: 1.000 to 4.000.
Average number of offspring: 2.400.
Range gestation period: 223 to 283 days.
Average birth mass: 900 g.
Average number of offspring: 2.
Parental Investment: precocial
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
- 1994Endangered(Groombridge 1994)
- 1990Endangered(IUCN 1990)
Pacaranas are classified as threatened and possibly on the verge being classified as endangered (Bailie 1996). The classification is mostly due to the animal's rareness. They are probably not significantly affected by deforestation. The most important challenge is to learn more about the pacarana's life history in the wild and its habitat range (Burton 1987 and White 1992).
CITES: no special status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: vulnerable
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
Although rare, natives hunt pacaranas for food (Matthews 1971). Scientist believe the biggest enemy to pacaranas is the human (Grzimek 1975).
The Pacarana (Dinomys branickii) is a rare and slow-moving nocturnal rodent found only in tropical forests of the western Amazon River basin and adjacent foothills of the Andes Mountains from northwestern Venezuela and Colombia to western Bolivia, including the yungas. One place that it is common is Cotapata National Park in Bolivia. It is known as the pacarama (false paca) by native Indians[who?] due to its superficial similarity to a different caviomorph rodent, the paca.
It is a hystricognath rodent, and the sole extant member of the family Dinomyidae in Caviomorpha; initially, it was placed with true mice. Some evidence places the pacarana as closely related to the prehistoric giant rodents that inhabited South America several million years ago, such as Phoberomys pattersoni and Josephoartigasia monesi.
It has a chunky body and is large for a rodent, weighing up to 15 kg (33 lb) and measuring up to 79 cm (31 in) in length, not including the thick, furry tail.
Pacarans are typically found in fours or fives.
- Tirira, D., Vargas, J. & Dunnum, J. (2008). Dinomys branickii. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
- Saavedra-Rodríguez, Carlos A.. "Multiscale patterns of habitat and space use by the pacarana Dinomys branickii: factors limiting its distribution and abundance". Inter-Research 2012. http://www.int-res.com/articles/esr_oa/n016p273.pdf. Retrieved 18 January 2013.