Paca, also known as the lowland paca or mountain paca, are a rodent species of animal, which belong to the genus Cuniculus and have the scientific name Cuniculus paca. In some places, they are also known as 'gibnuts' or 'royal rats'. The origin of pacas is in South America, from here they successfully migrated to North America (one of the few mammals to do so) and now pacas are found in different neotropical regions of America and South America, which can range from northeastern Mexico to Paraguay, Northern Argentina, and southeastern Brazil. The habitat of pacas varies depending on their location, from tropical evergreen to tropical sub-deciduous forests, pine-oak, cloud forests, and mangroves, they also love to live near water.
There are two different species of pacas under the genus Cuniculus: Mountain pacas and the lowland paca (also known as spotted pacas). They are similar in many aspects, for example, both male and female healthy pacas weigh around 13–31 lb (6–14 kg) and most of the time, males are slightly bigger in size than females. In color, they are usually reddish-brown to dark brown and there are several rows of whitish spots present down each side of a paca. Pacas are tailless animals with short legs and feet and a large head. To learn more about these fascinating animals then read on! Or check out our guide to the gopher and the nutria to learn about other animals too.
What do they prey on?
Leaves, buds, flowers, fungi, and insects
What do they eat?
Average litter size?
How much do they weigh?
13–31 lb (6–14 kg)
How long are they?
20–30 in (50–77 cm)
How tall are they?
9 in (23 cm)
What do they look like?
Heavy and robust appearance
What are their main threats?
The cougar and jaguar
What is their conservation status?
Where you'll find them
Rainforests, mangrove swamps and near water
Southern Mexico to northern Argentina
Paca Interesting Facts
What type of animal is a paca?
A paca is a herbivorous rodent animal that belongs to the Cuniculus genus. They are large rodents with dots and stripes on their sides and have a barely visible tail.
What class of animal does a paca belong to?
Pacas come under the mammal classification of animals as they give birth to their young.
How many pacas are there in the world?
There's no exact count on how many pacas there are currently in the world, but we do
Where does a paca live?
Pacas can be found on three different continents around the globe which are South America, North America, and Africa. Lowland paca species are seen from northeastern Mexico to Paraguay, northern Argentina, and southeastern Brazil.
What is a paca's habitat?
The habitat where these pacas live is full of variety, ranging from tropical evergreen and tropical-sub deciduous forests to pine-oak, cloud forests, and mangroves. It likes to live near water or near mountain ranges.
Who do pacas live with?
Pacas are usually seen living with packs of both males and females.
How long does a paca live?
The survival rate of pacas is about 80% in the wild and their lifespan is approximately 12.5 years.
How do they reproduce?
Lowland pacas are monogamous in nature which means they mate with only one partner and live with them throughout their lifetime. In pacas, males are known to assert dominance over females, and once they have asserted this dominance they urinate over the female to reinforce the pair's bond. Sometimes males can become aggressive if females don't respond in the required way.
Pacas usually form a small family with their partner and their young. Pacas have either one or two babies per year and they become sexually mature between 8 to 12 months of age. Their gestation period lasts around 114 to 119 days and usually just one baby is produced at a time. Young pacas can open their eyes as soon as they are born and they are taken care of by their mother for around eight weeks after birth.
What is their conservation status?
There is data that says that populations of pacas are declining and these animals are officially classed as Not Extinct by the IUCN.
Paca Fun Facts
What do pacas look like?
They are usually reddish-brown to dark brown in color, with several rows of whitish spots present down each side, also their underside is normally a slightly lighter brown color. Pacas are tailless animals with short legs and feet and a large head, and they are quite good swimmers. There are four toes on their forefeet and five on their hind feet. Lowland paca animals are very similar to the species of mountain paca in terms of looks, but mountain paca animals are generally smaller and have a thicker coat.
How do they communicate?
Lowland paca animals live in burrows and can produce a growling noise of about 1 kHz, which is surprisingly loud for its small size. Pacas are known to communicate in an aggressive manner during the mating season.
How big is a paca?
Pacas are not large animals in size although they are bigger than some other rodents. The size of pacas ranges from 20–30 in (50–77 cm).
How fast can a paca run?
Pacas are not fans of running, instead, they prefer swimming and are very good swimmers. Did you know that they can also mate under the water?
How much does a paca weigh?
The weight of this species ranges from 13–31 lb (6–14 kg).
What are their male and female names of the species?
No specific names given to males and females in this species of paca.
What would you call a baby paca?
There is no specific name for young paca animals, these young pacas can simply be described as 'babies'.
What do they eat?
Pacas are frugivore animals, which means that for food they mainly eat fallen fruits and vegetables. Sometimes their diet includes different varieties of seeds, leaves, and tubers too. With a diet including plenty of leaves and fruits, all of the food that pacas eat is found in their habitat around them.
Are they dangerous?
No, they are not dangerous to humans.
Would they make a good pet?
No, these animals are solely meant for living in wild. In captivity, they require specialized care, so they would not make a suitable pet.
Did you know...
Paca are also known in Belize as 'gibnuts' and they are also known as 'the royal rat'.
Due to their habit of eating fruits they are very helpful in the process of dispersing seeds from various plants.
Some of the closet relatives of these rodents include capybaras, guinea pigs, maras, agoutis, and nutria.
Can you own a paca?
No, it is actually illegal to own a paca in many places as they are strictly wild animals and pet owners cannot give them the exact wild life that they require.
Different types of paca
There are two types of paca species that belong to the same genus family: mountain pacas and lowland paca (also known as spotted pacas).
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other mammals including the field vole, or rice rat.
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