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Tuco-Tucos: Ctenomyidae

Pearson's Tuco-tuco (ctenomys Pearsoni): Species Account

Physical characteristics: The head and body length for Pearson's tuco-tuco is 7.5 inches (19 centimeters) and they weigh about 7 ounces (200 grams). They have brown-red fur with a white band of fur under the neck and white patches on the sides of the neck.

Geographic range: Pearson's tuco-tucos live in Peru, Chile, south-west Uruguay, and Entre Rios province in Argentina.

Habitat: These tuco-tucos prefer coastal sand dunes and grassland.

Pearson's tuco-tuco leaves its burrow only to find food and to mate. It defends its burrow against intruders. (Illustration by Joseph E. Trumpey. Reproduced by permission.)

Diet: Pearson's tuco-tuco are herbivores. Their diet consists primarily of grasses, herbs, shrubs, and roots.

Behavior and reproduction: The Pearson's tuco-tuco is solitary and individuals come together only to mate. The animal is territorial, meaning it is protective of an area it considers home and claims exclusively for itself. It will aggressively defend its territory and burrow from other tuco-tucos. It leaves its burrow only to find food and to mate. It has several vocalizations, including a sound to warn intruders away from its territory. It also has an excellent sense of hearing and can detect a human moving from about 165 feet (50 meters) away.

The mating season for Pearson's tuco-tuco in Peru is during the dry season and the babies are born in the wet season, when there is an abundance of plants. Female Pearson's tuco-tucos have one litter of babies per year. The number of babies ranges from two to four. They are believed to be polygamous, meaning they take more than one mate during the breeding season.

Pearson's tuco-tuco and people: They are rarely hunted and because they are so solitary, they have no known significance to humans.

Conservation status: Pearson's tuco-tuco is not listed as threatened by the IUCN. ∎



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.

Redford, Kent H., and John F. Eisenberg. Mammals of the Neotropics: The Southern Cone, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.

Wilson, Don E., and DeeAnn M. Reeder. Mammal Species of the World— A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, 2nd ed. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1993.


"Social Tuco-tucos Develop More Variety." Science News (August 26, 2000): 143.

El Jundi, Tarik A. R. J., and Thales R. O. De Freitas. "Genetic and Demographic Structure in a Population of Ctenomys lami (Rodentia-Ctenomyidae)." Hereditas (February 2004): 18–23.

Lacey, Eileen A., and John R. Wieczorek. "Ecology of Sociality in Rodents: A Ctenomyid Perspective." Journal of Mammalogy (November 2003): 1198–1211.

Lessa, Enrique P., and Joseph A. Cook. "The Molecular Phylogenetics of Tuco-Tucos (Genus Ctenomys, Rodentia: Octodontidae) Suggests an Early Burst of Speciation." Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution (February 1998): 88–99.

Schwartz, Lisa E., and Eileen A. Lacey. "Olfactory Discrimination of Gender by Colonial Tuco-Tucos (Ctenomys sociabilis.)" Mammalian Biology (January 2003): 53–60.

Web sites:

Myers, P. "Ctenomyidae." Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Ctenomyidae.html (accessed on July 12, 2004).

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsTuco-Tucos: Ctenomyidae - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Pearson's Tuco-tuco (ctenomys Pearsoni): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, DIET, TUCO-TUCOS AND PEOPLE