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Pacas: Agoutidae - Paca (agouti Paca): Species Account

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Physical characteristics: The paca has a head and body length of 20 to 20.5 inches (50 to 77.4 centimeters) and a weight of 13 to 31 pounds (6 to 14 kilograms). They have course, slick, glossy fur that is gray, red, black, or brown on the upper body and white on the lower body. They may also have four horizontal rows of cream, gray, or white spots or marks on their sides. Pacas have four toes on their front paws and five on their back feet. They also have a somewhat arched back.

Geographic range: Pacas live in east-central Mexico to Paraguay, including Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Suriname, and Venezuela.

Habitat: Pacas live primarily in rainforests near rivers and streams. They can also be found in seasonally dry areas, swamps, and deciduous forests bordering water sources.

Diet: Pacas are herbivores that feed on leaves, stems, roots, seeds, and fruit, especially avocados and mangos. Pacas do not climb trees so they depend on tree-climbing animals such as monkeys, to drop fruit from trees.

Behavior and reproduction: Pacas are nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night. During the day, they sleep in a den dug under tree roots or rock outcroppings, usually along riverbanks or hillsides. The den usually has several entrances and exits concealed by leaves. Pacas are capable swimmers and take to the water when they feel threatened. They have an acute sense of smell and hearing.

The paca is monogamous and territorial, with a mated pair sharing a territory, which can be up to 8.6 acres (3.5 hectares). However, their territories are not exclusive and may overlap with other pairs of pacas.

Female pacas usually have one litter of babies a year but can have two or three. A litter contains one or two babies. Their gestation period, the time they carry their young in the womb, is 114 to 119 days.

Pacas and people: Pacas are hunted by humans for their meat. They are often killed by farmers who see them as pests.

Conservation status: Pacas are not listed as threatened by the IUCN. ∎



Domestication and Husbandry of the Paca (Agouti paca) (FAO Conservation Guide: 26). United Nations, NY: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 1995.

Eisenberg, J. F., and K. H. Redford. Mammals of the Neotropics. Vol. 3, The Central Tropics: Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.

Macdonald, David. The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Oxford, U.K.: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Nowak, Ronald M. Walker's Mammals of the World, 6th ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999.


Laska, M., et al. "Food Preferences and Nutrient Composition in Captive Pacas, Agouti paca (Rodentia, Dasyproctidae)." Mammalian Biology (January 2003): 31–41.

Pérez, Elizabeth M. "Agouti paca." Mammalian Species (December 1992): 1–7.

Pimentel, Domingos S., and Marcelo Tabarelli. "Seed Dispersal of the Palm Attalea oleifera in a Remnant of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest." Biotropica (March 2004): 74–84.

Ramirez–Pulido, Jose, et al. "New Records of Agouti paca (Linnaeus) from the Mexican State of Puebla." The Texas Journal of Science (August 2001): 285.

Web sites:

Fox, David L. "Agouti paca." Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Agouti_paca.html (accessed on July 12, 2004).

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over 6 years ago

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over 4 years ago

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almost 4 years ago

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