September 12, 2011 | by  |
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Animal of the week- Patagonian Hare

You frequent Salientologists will know how big of a fan I am of animals that seem to be formed from the random features of other animals. This week’s AOTW is no disappointment. My dear friend Dorothy recently returned from a trip to Argentina. Over coffee, she enthusiastically described a “super cute, rabbit-kangaroo hybrid, which has massive long legs, walks round on all fours and has freakin’ horse hooves!” Let me introduce to you the Patagonian hare.

This large rodent is in fact not a hare at all and most closely related to the guinea pig. However, they are frequently compared to antelope or deer as they may gallop or even bounce on all fours when running. For a 16kg ball of fluff, Patagonian hares are surprising quick, reaching speeds of 45 kilometres per hour.

Patagonian hares show unique social organisation by combining monogamy with communal living. Breeding partners remain together for life but up to 15 families may live together in the same underground burrow. The adults take turns watching over the children in this ‘Patagonian hare kindergarten’. This allows the other adults to feed, frolic in the sun, or whatever else tickles their fancy.

Patagonia is very windswept; therefore burrows are highly sought after. Even birds nest underground. The Patagonian hares must be on constant guard from animals trying to take over their home such as burrowing owls (I know, burrowing owls! WTF?).

One last mention must go out to the process which Patagonian hares carry out, known as ‘anal digging’. I was too scared to Google it though. Sorry.

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