The Pacarana, means “False Paca” among the Tupi people of the Amazon. The animal is the third largest rodent ( only capybaras and beavers are larger) and said to resemble a very large guinea pig. The scientific name, Dinomys branickii, means “terrible mouse” but this is someone’s pipe dream because this animal is anything but vicious. It is the only remaining species from its family. This family was one of giant rodents; Telicomys gigantissimus, from the Late Miocene Epoch (11.2 million to 5.3 million years ago) of Argentina, was about the size of a small rhinoceros; while Eumegamys, matched a hippopotamus in size.
This creature weighs about 10-15 Kg in weight with a chunky body measuring up to 79 cm (31.1 inches) in length, not including the thick, furry tail of up to 20 cm. The pacarana has a large head for its body with small ears and a thick neck. These parts, along with the forelegs, are essentially solid in colour, but the rest of its coarse black or brown fur is broken by two white stripes grading to spots along the back and rows of white spots on the sides.
It is found in Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela and Colombia. These creatures are slow moving herbivores that generally eat leaves, fruits and seeds. They can climb trees even though they mostly live on the ground.
They are found in small groups of four to five individuals. The females give birth to up to 4 young ones after a very long pregnancy of 220-280 days. They are threatened throughout their habitat due to modern hunting methods and also due to habitat destruction: the bane of all South American rainforests.