Animal lovers the world around will coo with delight at the sight of a Patagonian mara, also known as a Patagonian cavy. This adorable rodent from Argentina is a near relation to the more common pet guinea pigs and chinchillas.
These adorable animals are the second largest rodent in the world, and grow up to two feet long and weigh over 30 pounds at adulthood. They are very social animals, and thus can make wonderful pets, but they are definitely exotic pets and require special care and attention that your average dog or cat will not need. If you plan on having a Patagonian mara as a pet, you would do well to learn as much about their life in the wild as possible so that you can better care for their every need.
The Patagonian mara comes from a grassland area of Argentina called Patagonia, and they are used to living in small holes or burrows in the ground. The weather can vary greatly, so they are used to both extremely hot and cold temperatures. As pets they should be required with a place of cool to rest during the summer and a warm place to sleep in the winter.
The mara can live outside long term, but will need some kind of shelter to keep him happy. A large cage or enclosure is important because they need lots of space to run and play. The should have a place of shelter as well in case they need to hide from the rain, wind, or other unpleasant weather. It is best if you can allow some outdoor and indoor area for him so that he can both feel safe and warm whenever he wants, and he can also graze on the plant life.
Maras are infamous diggers, and given half a chance, they will tunnel out from under any enclose you make for them. The best way to keep your mara safe in his enclosure is to make a wire or mesh floor that he cannot dig through. This will prevent him from escaping and running away, getting lost, or getting hurt.
What you feed your mara is very important too. The mara is an herbivore, and his natural diet in the wild is comprised mainly of grasses and other vegetation. You should feed this exotic pet a similar diet, rich in vegetables, fruit, grasses, and hay to ensure a healthy and long life. A happy, healthy pet mara will often live up to 14 years.
As extremely social animals in the wild, maras will often want regular attention and cannot be neglected. Although they may be shy of humans at first, if you have adopted your mara from a very young age, you will find that he soon adapts to human attention and will crave your regular company.
In short, the Patagonian mara is a fascinating animal that will make a wonderful pet. But as with any pet, you should learn to care for the animal in the best way possible before you commit to adopting him.