The coruro (Spalacopus cyanus) is a species of rodent in the family Octodontidae. It is monotypic within the genus Spalacopus. The species is endemic to central Chile, where it has been found in a wide variety of habitats, from coastal to montane. It is fossorial and lives in colonies.
Coruros are robust rodents with large heads, short necks and stocky bodies. The fur is short and dark brown, turning blackish on the feet. Their eyes and ears are small and their tails are short and smooth. They are strongly modified for life underground. They have large incisors that curve forward and which are used to loosen soil and gnaw through roots, strong forelimbs for digging and powerful hind limbs for moving soil and kicking it out of the entrance to the burrow.
Distribution and habitat
Coruros occur along the coast from Alicahue (32°19'S) to Los Cipreses (34°01'S), and in the Andes up to 3500 m altitude from Alicahue (32°19'S) to Los Cipreses (34°01'S). It inhabits a range of habitats including alpine grasslands in the mountains, acacia savannah in the Chilean Central Valley, semi-stabilized sand dunes and coastal grassland.
Coruros are colonial rodents, a number of individuals occupying a single burrow system. They are also unusual amongst rodents in that they are nomadic; when their food is becoming exhausted in one locality, they move as a group to another locality and create a new burrow. It is a vocal species, emitting a range of distinctive calls.
Coruros feed entirely underground on grasses, herbs, roots and bulbs of geophytes such as Leucocoryne ixioides (which forms the bulk of its diet), Dioscorea longipes, or species of Libertia, Sisyrinchium or Alophia.
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