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The Mara
Combine your favorite rodent species into one animal, and you might get something that resembles a mara. The mara, endemic to Patagonia, has the body of a rabbit, but smaller ears, longer legs, and hops like a kangaroo. Maras also grow much taller than most rodents, standing two feet tall when they reach maturity.

A genetic relative of the guinea pig, maras typically live in groups of three or four in the plains of Torres del Paine. Under bushes, adult females burrow and give birth to their young, usually bearing two offspring. The female and her babies will remain in the burrow for several weeks.

Interesting Facts
  • Occasionally, maras congregate in colonies of up to 40 animals.
  • Mara have been observed running at nearly 30 miles per hour for a distance of over a half mile.
  • Once a mara chooses a mate, the pair stays together for life.

The Lesser Rhea
A variety of birds fly above and through Torres del Paine, but the lesser rhea is not one of them. A relative of the ostrich, the rhea is a flightless bird, its relatively small wings useless when it comes to flight. Fortunately, the rhea's massive size allows it to intimidate many of Patagonia's predators.

The rhea's mating and childbearing behavior is, in one respect, among the most liberal of any species. During the breeding season, several female rheas will lay up to 30 eggs in a single nest. One male will incubate all the eggs, and once they have hatched, care for the chicks, or charitas, until the small birds can fend for themselves.

Interesting Facts

  • Well adapted to the terrain of steppes, rheas can survive on a minute amount of water and infrequent feedings upon small insects, small rodents, other bird chicks, or plant matter.

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