The lowland pacas were originally discovered wandering around Cuba, and Algeria located in Africa. They are now mainly located in South America, while some branch off into Central America and the southeastern parts of Mexico, as well as the Lesser Antilles.
These mammals generally reside in wet, humid forests. They normally burrow down below into the moist soil, particularly near rivers and water that remains from previous rainstorms. Lowland pacas will sometimes even claim other animals’ burrows, or perhaps just maintain them while the other animal is away.
Male and female pacas typically don’t live in the same burrow, as they are independent mammals.
Lowland pacas currently are of Least Concern, although they do experience small instances of hunting and habitat loss from deforestation in the southern areas of their population. However, most live in unhunted areas, or just simply don’t burrow near humans. Due to distribution among pacas from one agriculture to another, the creation of robust habitats is apparent and common.
Although this mammals’ population isn’t necessarily a concern, they’re hunted regularly in human-populated areas, and sometimes are the main source of meat for people. If there ever could be a time where pacas or any other wild fauna or flora was to become Near Threatened or Vulnerable, trade regulations would be established.
Lowland pacas are vertebrates with thin, almost wiry fur, and are also endothermic. Their total of 40 teeth consists of incisors, premolars, molars, and canines.
They have a muscular diaphragm, a four-chambered heart with a two-loop circulatory system, red blood cells without nuclei, and females that bear a mammary gland, as well as going through the process of internal fertilization.
The lowland paca is a placental mammal. Placentals are mammals that fully develop the young while inside the mother. Before being born, all of the young’s internal systems must be able to function properly on their own.
Adult lowland pacas, both male and female, can weigh between 13 to 26 pounds. In length, females can grow within the range of 60 to 70 centimeters, and males can grow within the range of 65 to 82 centimeters. Their fur can appear to be a dark brown or reddish-brown, but either color is accompanied by many random, white dots covering the body. Pacas generally have short legs and an unproportional head, which makes them fairly slow on land, but excellent swimmers. They have a rodent-like appearance, their little hind feet have 5 digits, while their forefeet have a bit less, at 4 digits. The average lifespan of a paca in the wild is somewhere around 12 and a half years. Additionally, they can live at least up to 16 years in captivity.
When fleeing predators, pacas can excellently swim away. They’re able to do this because of their large head and much smaller legs. As their little feet stroke through the water, their head keeps them afloat. In their burrows, they’ll dig many entrances. While some are used for general use, a couple aisused to escape predators that could pursue them. Pacas depend on wet, vegetated areas to survive. Forested areas provide a year-round supply of food, which is mostly fruit plants. Lowland pacas can create sounds when air passes through their cheekbones, and the noise that it makes is used when finding mates.
During hunting season, pacas are hunted by a considerable amount. This is period a where the lowland paca population is in danger. To avoid being slaughtered, they migrate to relatively unpopulated(human) areas. Pacas will stay in their current area if hunting is moderate.
Lowland pacas are frugivores, consuming fruits that have fallen to the ground. Although, they’ll also feast on a variety of ootherssuch as leaves, seeds, and tubers. To collect vegetation, these mammals have to forage, and will prefer a fruit like a mango, and will discard flowers. When fruit is nowhere to be found in the general area(November-March), pacas will collect leaves and eat those.
Pacas are consumers, predators of seeds, and with a few predators of their own. Humans, jaguars, cougars, and bush dogs, go down the food chain, beginning with humans. Its prey includes, as mentioned before, most vegetation and fruit in its habitat.
A paca is a solitary animal, even towards their mates. They live mostly nocturnal lives, which is to avoid any potential predators. These mammals communicate by producing a sound from their cheekbone, ordinarily used during the night. Males tend to avoid each other, but will cross paths, and might compete against one another for a mate. There isn’t necessarily a social hierarchy since pacas are fairly independent, yet in captivity, they’ll interact a bit more than usual.
Lowland pacas are instinctively nocturnal mammals, innately foraging for vegetation during the night, specifically when there’s little moonlight. Pacas are mainly aggressive towards the same gender to defend territory or young, which mostly regards the males because females typically don’t interact with other females. After birth, pacas will place their young in a small, deep burrow. They do this to isolate the young from predators while making the burrow so small that the young won’t be able to leave by themselves.
While trying to gain dominance over the female, males will urinate over the female, and will also do this when competing against another male for a mate. Pacas are monogamous, staying with one mate for life(unless they’re killed). Gestation periods will l in between 97 to 118 days with the average of offspring being 1 to 2 at birth. Weight averages shortly after birth are 605.9 g for females and 736.7 g for males, however, the average length is around 23 cm for both genders. Offspring are taken care of by the mother for around 8 weeks, as newly born young just take a day to begin running around and eating any surrounding vegetation.
Paca meat is generally quite delectable and is valued by hunters. Although, when in captivity and killed for their meat, pacas don’t taste nearly as good when caught in the wild.
These mammals are fairly often caught destroying crops and are deemed extreme nuisances for farmers. This labels them as the second-worst crop-destroyer in their geographical range.