It’s a Deer! It’s a Rabbit! Nope… It’s a Giant Rodent

Image: Vassil, Wikimedia Commons

This four-legged creature boasts both hopping and galloping capabilities — making for the distinctive appearance of a deer crossed with a rabbit.

The Patagonian mara (Dolichotis patagonum) is perhaps one of the world’s most unusual creatures. This rare animal is found only in Argentina, persisting in diverse habitats ranging from lowland forests to barren plains. They especially favor the sandy, shrubby region extending across the Valdes Peninsula.

Also known as the Patagonian cavy, Patagonian hare, or dillaby, the mara displays overwhelming similarities to jackrabbits including long ears, long limbs, and white undersides. It typically weighs between fifteen and forty pounds and is primarily herbivorous, preferring to feed on grass, green vegetation, and fruit. The mara stands at an average of two feet in height.

Its deer-like resemblance is highlighted by hoof-like feet bearing four digits in the front and three digits in the back. The angle and power of its hind limbs allocate the ability to bound across open areas at up to 28 miles per hour.

Image: Jason Hollinger, Flickr

In addition to this impressive speed, the Patagonian mara is capable of hopping more than five feet into the air; its equal jumping and galloping capacities making for an unusual combination of rabbit and deer characteristics.

Whatever creature the mara may resemble, it officially belongs to Caviidae, which is a family of rodents including the domestic guinea pig.


As if this animal couldn’t get any stranger, it is also one of the few rodents that mate for life. These monogamous creatures spend their entire lives together as a couple, the male maintaining a mobile territory around his female using urine and other pheromones. The couple joins other maras only through mating season, during which time the females communally bear their young.

These furry, fascinating creatures are threatened with poaching and habitat loss due to human encroachment.

Watch the video below to see footage of a newborn baby Patagonian mara: