The fourth largest rodent in the world, Patagonian Cavies are native to Central, and South America down by Argentina. South Americans call these unique creatures maras which means "hare-like". Maras live in the arid dry regions of South America, however in captivity they have adapted well to all types of weather around the world. Maras are herbivores. Their diet consists of grasses, cactuses, as well as seeds, fruits and flowers. They may also ingest their own dung to maximize nutrient absorption. (A side note: Kangaroos and wallabies do this too). In the wild, Patagonian cavies are typically active during the day, although to avoid predatory humans, they may alter their waking hours and become nocturnal. Closely related to the guinea pig and Capybara, their vocalizations are very similar to the guinea pig with their variety of high-pitched squeaks and grunts. Male (Boars) and females (Sows) form lifelong bonds, and the boars can be fiercely protective of their mates. Gestation lasts around 100 days, with the sow typically giving birth to one to three (babies) pups. In the wild maras have only one litter a year, but in captivity they have been known to have up to four! The parents will dig out a deep burrow where sows will give birth to their pups. Once a day the boar and sow pair will go to the entrance of the burrow and emit a shrill call, and the pups will leave their den and meet them outside the hole. The sow can locate her pups by their own unique smell. A sow will then lead her pups to a private area where she will nurse them, after which the pups will return to their burrow until the next day. They will live and nurse for four months while living inside this burrow. Unfortunately, Patagonian Cavies are currently facing a serious decline due to hunting, loss of their natural habitat as well as competition with the European hare, sheep and other non-native herbivores.