In mid-June, NaturZoo Rheine in Germany welcomed a litter of two Patagonian Cavies, also called Mara. Baby Cavies can walk almost immediately after birth, and from their very first days, the pair started exploring outside of the burrow to play, cuddle and groom.
These rodents, a Near Threatened species related to Guinea-pigs and Chinchillas, come from Patagonia. At the zoo, the Cavies live in a larger group together with Llamas in a walk-through exhibit. Because Cavies are active during the day, visitors have a unique chance to follow the development of the litter from close-up.
Cavies mate for life, only finding a new mate if a partner dies, and breed in the company of other pairs in shared burrows or warrens. Having many pairs of eyes around the den helps to protect offspring from predators.
The young can walk almost immediately after birth, but stay close to the den for their first three weeks as they explore. They will begin grazing on plants with their parents and are weaned at about 13 weeks old.