Plains viscacha

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Plains viscacha
Lagostomus maximus, Plains Viscacha.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Chinchillidae
Genus: Lagostomus
Species: L. maximus
Binomial name
Lagostomus maximus
(Desmarest, 1817)

The plains viscacha or plains vizcacha (Lagostomus maximus) is a species of rodents in the family Chinchillidae. It is the only living species within the genus Lagostomus. It is found in Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay. The plains viscacha is the largest species in its family. They construct elaborate burrows that house successive colonies for decades.


Lagostomus maximus-1-WilhelmaZoo-Stuttgart.JPG

The plains viscacha is a large rodent, weighing up to 9 kg. It has an average head and a body length over 500 mm, with the tail usually a little less than 200 mm long. The dorsal pelage ranges from gray to brown, depending upon soil color, and the belly is whitish. Its head is bulky, and the face is black and white; males have distinctive black mustaches and stiff whiskers. Their fore feet have four toes, and the hind feet have three toes.[2][3]

Ecology and behaviour[edit]

They live in communal burrow systems in groups containing one or more males, several females, and immatures. Viscachas forage in groups at night and aggregate underground during the day. All members of a group use burrows throughout the communal burrow system and participate in digging at the burrows. Alarm calls are given primarily by adult males. The long-term social unit of the plains viscacha is the female group. Resident males disappear each year and new males join groups of females. Dominance is absent among females.[4] Members of a social group share a common foraging area around the communal burrow system, and feed on a variety of grasses and forbs, occasionally browsing on low shrubs.[5]


Plains viscachas ovulate over 200 eggs per cycle (in comparison, humans usually only ovulate one egg per cycle).[citation needed]


  1. ^ Lessa, E., Ojeda, R. & Bidau, C. (2008). Lagostomus maximus. In: IUCN 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
  2. ^ Anderson, S. (1997) Mammals of Bolivia: taxonomy and distribution. Bulletin of the AMNH, no. 231
  3. ^ Diaz, M.M et al. (1997) Key to Mammals of Salta Province, Argentina. Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. Occasional Paper No 2
  4. ^ Branch L. 1993. Social organization and mating system of the plains vizcacha (Lagostomus maximus). J Zool (Lond). 229:473–491
  5. ^ Giulietti J, Jackson J. 1986. Composición anual de la dieta de la vizcacha (Lagostomus maximus) en pastizales naturales en la provincia de San Luís, Argentina. Rev Argent Prod Anim. 6:229–237.