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Cavies and Maras: Caviidae

Rock Cavy (kerodon Rupestris): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: Rock cavies are about the same size or slightly larger than the common guinea pig, 11.8 to 15.7 inches (30 to 40 centimeters) long and weigh 31.7 to 35.2 ounces (900 to 1,000 grams). They have long, slender legs with well-developed, blunt nails on their padded feet and one claw used for grooming. The upper body fur is generally gray with irregular black and white patches. The lower body fur is yellow and brown while the throat fur is white. The face has a muzzle shape with a longer, blunter snout, similar to that of a dog.

Geographic range: Rock cavies are found in eastern Brazil from the state of Piaui to northern Minas Gerais.

Habitat: The species prefers dry areas with rocky outcroppings near mountains and hills.

Diet: Rock cavies are herbivores, meaning they eat only plants and plant material. Their diet primarily consists of tender leaves and shoots of plants.

Behavior and reproduction: Rock cavies received their name because they are excellent rock climbers. They are generally most active late in the day. Males claim one or several rock piles as their territory, which they will defend. Each male has a number of female mates and each group has a hierarchy, a structured order of rank. The gestation period is about seventy-five days. Rock cavies reach sexual maturity, the age when they can produce offspring, at two months. Females produce several litters per year from July to March, each with one or two young. Individuals make several vocal sounds, including a slow whistle when they leave their rock piles to search for food, and an alarm whistle. The average lifespan is six to eight years.

Rock cavies and people: Rock cavies are easily tamed and make suitable pets. Brazilians who live in the rock cavy habitat area use the mammal as food and medicine.

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

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsCavies and Maras: Caviidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Cavies, Maras And People, Rock Cavy (kerodon Rupestris): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, CONSERVATION STATUS