EFA: Etsy For Animals Etsy For Animals: ANiMAL MUNDi: Paca by Corinna of TheFrogBag

Etsy for Animals (EFA) aka Artists Helping Animals,

is a team of independent artists, craftspeople,

vintage sellers and craft suppliers on Etsy.com

who are dedicated to providing charitable relief to animals

by donating a portion of the profits from their shops

to an animal charity of their choosing,

and/or to EFA's featured Charity of the Month.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

ANiMAL MUNDi: Paca by Corinna of TheFrogBag

 by Corinna of TheFrogBag


What has hooves, looks like a watermelon, and barks at night? If you aren’t familiar with pacas you might never guess that this description fits a large tropical rodent. But pacas (genus Cuniculus), also known as gibnuts in Belize, do all this and more.

Weighing up to 30 pounds, pacas are shaped like two-foot long guinea pig torpedoes. Their bodies narrow towards the front, allowing them to run through the rainforest understory without becoming snagged on low-hanging branches. In contrast to their robust torsos their legs look like thin little sticks ending in dainty hooves. These aren’t true hooves of course, but are actually highly adapted nails which function in the same way. 

Belize Zoo

Although solitary and usually silent, they can make surprisingly loud growling and barking noises thanks to resonating chambers inside their cheeks. But, being highly prized as prey by humans, wild cats, large snakes, and caimans, they usually play it safe by remaining well hidden and quiet in burrows during the day. 

Later in the afternoon and evening they venture forth but usually don’t wander far from a home range centered on a clump of fruit-bearing trees. When fruit is scarce they won’t turn up their noses at leaves, flowers, seeds, insects, and even mushrooms though, and play an important role in rainforest seed dispersal. 


The young, unlike rats and other more familiar rodents, are precocial at birth. That means that they’re fully furred, fully sighted, and ready to follow mom wherever she might lead. Even so, they won’t be weaned for another three months, and even then won’t strike out on their own for close to a year. 

In the wild pacas can live for more than a decade, especially if they are cagey about not encountering predators. Their love of water helps with this, since they can swim well and can even dive, staying submerged for several minutes at a time. Even their stripped and spotted coat is anti-predator, functioning as a sort of invisibility cloak in the dappled forest light. Not a bad set of tricks for a creature that many people consider an overgrown mouse. 

San Diego Zoo

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