What is the difference between the Greater Guinea Pig and the Patagonian Mara?

What is the difference between the Greater Guinea Pig (Cavia magna) and the Patagonian Mara (Dolichotis patagonum)?

Both the Greater Guinea Pig and the Patagonian Mara are large, herbivorous, rodent mammals. The Patagonian Mara is also known as the Patagonian Cavy. They are both cavids.

Both the Greater Guinea Pig and the Patagonian Mara have two large front teeth to gnaw plants.

Greater Guinea Pig (left) and Patagonian Mara (right)

The Greater Guinea Pig has dark-brown or reddish-brown fur, with a creamy-white underbelly, whereas the Patagonian Mara has grey fur with orange-yellow sides and chin, and a white underbelly. 

The Greater Guinea Pig has short ears and short legs, whereas the Patagonian Mara has long ears and long legs, with its back legs longer than its front legs.

The Greater Guinea Pig grows to about 31 centimetres (12 inches) in length, whereas the Patagonian Mara is larger, growing to 69-75 centimetres (27-30 inches) in length. 

The Greater Guinea Pig has virtually no tail, whereas the Patagonian Mara has a tail measuring 4-5 centimetres (2 inches).

The Greater Guinea Pig is semi-aquatic, living partly in freshwater and partly on land. It has membranes, similar to webbing, between its toes to enable it to swim. The Patagonian Mara is terrestrial, living on land, and does not hop like a rabbit, but instead, it runs like a deer. 

Both the Greater Guinea Pig and the Patagonian Mara live in a den, in a tunnel underground.

Both the Greater Guinea Pig and the Patagonian Mara live in countries in South America. The Greater Guinea Pig is native to Brazil and Uruguay and prefers to live near the coast, in moist grassland and marshes. The Patagonian Mara is native to Argentina and parts of Patagonia, and prefers to live in open and semi-open plains with shrubs.  

Greater Guinea Pig (left) and Patagonian Mara (right)
Greater Guinea Pig
Patagonian Mara
Patagonian Mara

Location of photographs: Paris Zoo, France and Animal City, Lebanon

Photographer: Martina Nicolls

Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM

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