A Patagonian cavy is a gentle natured rodent from South American from the family Cavidae. They are a relative of the guinea pig which is also a rodent from the Cavidae family.
Its appearance is very hare-like giving them another common name of Patagonian Hare. They are also called a Mara.
Patagonian cavies are active in the daytime (diurnal). Though they will feed and socialize in the evening/twilight hours. Especially in a captive group.
They are a very social animal something that should be given considerable thought before acquiring a Patagonian cavy. In the wild they live in small groups of 15 - 35 often forming a lifetime bond with a single mate (monogamous pairs).
It is imperative that you spend daily, quality time with your cavy. They are very social and they will not make the sweet and loving pet they are capable of if you do not spend a lot of time with them. They will rarely, if ever bite, and I doubt if I have ever said this of any exotic pets.
They are considered the second largest to third largest rodent and weight between 15-30 pounds and reach 2 feet tall 2 1/2 if you include the tail. To me they look much like the Jack rabbit I use to frequently see in the central valley of California. Though the Jack rabbit is much smaller. They can jump quite high, run very fast, and burrow which makes housing the cavy interesting. The navigate on all fours while a hopping
As with many exotic pets it is best to obtain Patagonian cavies while young and bottle feed making for a pet that is bonded to you. It makes it much easier to leash train and halter train, toilet train (the use of papers is usually recommended) and on to advanced training obeying some commands.
The tendency of voiding near their food makes for easy training. Put their toilet area near their food dishes. Watch to see where they go in relation to the food dishes and place the litter box where they have voided.
As with all animals never use cedar or pine as a litter box material or bedding material it is toxic. Use paper litter or just ripped up newspapers. You can use one of the dog potty mats with newspapers works exceptional well or a litter box that has had the sides removed.
They are a herbivore. The diet should include free range (available at all times) Timothy may and a high quality food such as guinea pig pellets. In addition, you can offer an alfalfa blend (alfalfa, clover, sweet oats). They will also require some fruits, and vegetables added to their diet. Do clean up fresh fruits and vegetables daily. You don't want your exotic pet to get ill from spoiled food. Always keep fresh, filtered water on hand.
As I mentioned housing a Patagonian cavy is probably going to be the hardest thing to do. They run, jump, and burrow. You will need to supply warm protected housing like a large insulated hard sided dog house inside a tall fenced parameter. They need a lot of space, it isn't healthy to keep them in a small confined space. They can also dig or burrow under the fenced so you will need to dig down a couple of feet and pour a cement foundation for the fence, or pour a cement slab, or use a heavy cage wire buried under the fenced area expanding to the outside of the perimeter.
Though the Patagonian in South America experience extreme temperatures make sure you know that shade is provided at all times. If there is extremely cold, sub zero temperatures, make sure you are providing a safe heat source. Keep all cords and the heat source away from the cavy. They may chew the cord or get burned on the heater. Make sure the heat source is nowhere near the hay or other flammable objects.
Of course they can be housed indoors with their human family. They love to be close to you. Except, while in the house they will have to be supervised or have an interior kennel. They chew, like all rodents they have ever growing teeth and will gnaw on whatever there is to chew on. Make sure you supply non- chemical treated, or non- toxic wooden objects for them to keep their teeth worn down.
If you want to take them out in public make sure you halter and leash train the cavy; they do startle easily. They are naturally a prey species of animal and are quite alert for predicators. You don't want to startle them and have it run in front of a car or become lost and afraid.
How long does a Patagonian cavy live? Their lifespan is longer in captivity than in the wild. With proper nutrition and veterinarian care 7-10 years with a few living beyond.
You can find breeders and Patagonian cavies for sale.
KGE Farms, Inc.
A useful classified site for finding exotic pets for sale and breeders - oh and exotic pet brokers, Exotic Pets classifieds
Patagonian cavy images
Patagonian cavy pictures
Make sure the cavy is legal in your local area and state. Check into special licensing and permits. Make sure you have found a veterinarian familiar with the Patagonian cavy before you acquire a cavy.
Patagonian cavies are very sweet and loving pets. Please be aware that they are highly social and need your attention and love. They are not a pet for someone that is away for long hours.
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