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Strange animal sighted at Marion County Lake

A strange animal has been sighted at Marion County Lake and residents and visitors have been wondering what it is.

A male Patagonian cavy, a domestic animal, escaped from his pen near the lake Sept. 30, when winds became strong, and has been living off the land at the lake ever since. Passers-by have reported seeing the unusual-looking animal to Lake Superintendent Steve Hudson.

“People have wondered if they really are seeing what they’re seeing,” Hudson said.

The cavy is a vegetarian and is rather meek. With quickness and agility, he can escape predators and humans. Efforts have been made to capture the feisty animal but his owner is considering leaving him loose.

What is a Patagonian cavy?

It is one of the largest rodents in the world and a close relative to guinea pigs. They have stocky bodies with three sharp-clawed digits on their hind feet and four digits on their forefeet.

They can run up to 20 mph and jump 6 feet.

Their heads resemble a deer. They hop like a rabbit or kangaroo and lie like a dog.

This cavy is named after Patagonia, Argentina, where they originated. They are brown and gray in color with a white stripe across their hindquarters.

The cavy is about 3 feet tall and weighs 30 to 35 pounds. He has a large head with large eyes and ears.

Hudson and the animal’s owner hope people will appreciate the new wildlife addition and not harm it.

“He’s a vegetarian so he’s not going to harm other domestic animals,” Hudson said. “I just hope people will watch him from a distance and not bother him.”

Last modified Oct. 8, 2009

 

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