Paca facts: The paca has a head and body length of 20 to 20.5 inches (50 to 77.4 centimeters) and a weight of 13 to 31 pounds (6 to 14 kilograms). They have course, slick, glossy fur that is gray, red, black, or brown on the upper body and white on the lower body. They may also have four horizontal rows of cream, gray, or white spots or marks on their sides. Pacas have four toes on their front paws and five on their back feet. They also have a somewhat arched back.
Geographic range: Pacas live in east-central Mexico to Paraguay, including Belize, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Suriname, and Venezuela.
Paca habitat: Pacas live primarily in rainforests near rivers and streams. They can also be found in seasonally dry areas, swamps, and deciduous forests bordering water sources.
What does paca eat: Pacas are herbivores that feed on leaves, stems, roots, seeds, and fruit, especially avocados and mangos. Pacas do not climb trees so they depend on tree-climbing animals such as monkeys, to drop fruit from trees.
Behavior and reproduction: Pacas are nocturnal, meaning they are most active at night. During the day, they sleep in a den dug under tree roots or rock outcroppings, usually along riverbanks or hillsides. The den usually has several entrances and exits concealed by leaves. Pacas are capable swimmers and take to the water when they feel threatened. They have an acute sense of smell and hearing.
The paca is monogamous and territorial, with a mated pair sharing a territory, which can be up to 8.6 acres (3.5 hectares). However, their territories are not exclusive and may overlap with other pairs of pacas.
Female pacas usually have one litter of babies a year but can have two or three. A litter contains one or two babies. Their gestation period, the time they carry their young in the womb, is 114 to 119 days.
Pacas and people: Pacas are hunted by humans for their meat. They are often killed by farmers who see them as pests.
Conservation status: Pacas are not listed as threatened by the IUCN.