The mountain paca (Cuniculus taczanowskii) is a small burrow-dwelling rodent whose habitats are high altitude South American forests. Pacas are nocturnal, sedentary, and solitary animals with territorial tendencies. It eats mostly fruits and seeds. The mountain paca primarily inhabits higher Andean Montane forest regions in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia.
This paca has coarse fur without underfur, dark brown to black on the upper body and white or yellowish on the underbelly. It usually has three to five rows of white spots along its sides, against a dark grey background. It has thick strong legs, with four digits in the forefeet and five in the hind feet (the first and fifth are reduced); the nails function as hooves. The tail is short and hairless. The zygomatic arch is expanded laterally and dorsally and is used as a resonating chamber - a unique feature among mammals.
The mountain paca is hunted for its meat, which is high in calories and is considered a delicacy particularly in rural communities. Due to its quick growth, it may be bred in captivity for commercial use. However, it has a low reproductive capacity and its numbers have been significantly reduced in recent years due to hunting and habitat destruction. It is fairly abundant in protected areas.
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- Woods, C. A. and C. W. Kilpatrick. 2005. Hystricognathi. Pp 1538–1600 in Mammal Species of the World a Taxonomic and Geographic Reference 3rd ed. D. E. Wilson and D. M. Reeder eds. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington D.C.
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