Mammal Research

, Volume 64, Issue 2, pp 271–278 | Cite as

Summer behavior and diurnal activity of mountain vizcachas (Lagidium viscacia) in two colonies of Northwestern Patagonia

  • Gladys I. GalendeEmail author
  • Estela Raffaele
Original Paper


The mountain vizcacha (Lagidium viscacia) is a specialist of rocky habitats with colonies distributed along elevation gradients. Knowledge about its behavior is scarce and populations in northern Patagonia are declining. This is the first study describing the behavior and summer diurnal activity of two mountain vizcacha colonies under natural conditions. We registered by scan sampling the activities of 15 individuals during the period of 5 days. Vizcachas performed typical behaviors of rock specialists and allocated most of their time to foraging near the rock shelter (34%) and resting (26%). Behaviors such as locomotion (16%) and social interactions (10%) were important. Allogrooming (4.5%), vigilance (3%), and dust-bathing (1%) occupied a relatively small percentage of activities. In summer, the diurnal activity presented a bimodal distribution and was inversely related to the mean daytime air temperature, with a maximum peak between 8:00 and 9:00 h. Main activities such as foraging, resting, and locomotion were concentrated in the morning and at sunset. The behavioral responses suggest that the activity of this rodent in summer is influenced by thermal conditions. These results are a first important step in order to understand future vizcacha responses to climate change.


Rock-specialist Behavior Rodents Foraging Temperature Daytime activity 



We thank Mauro Tamonne for help with fieldwork and Susan Walker and Silvina Ippi, and Emerson Viera for comments and improvements to the manuscript. We also thank the student field assistants.

Funding information

This study was financially support provided by CONICET (PIP 5066) and the National University of Comahue (grant UNC-B126).

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Sciences, Białowieża, Poland 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Zoology, Bariloche Regional University CenterNational University of ComahueBarilocheArgentina
  2. 2.Laboratory EcotonoINIBIOMA - National University of Comahue-CONICETBarilocheArgentina

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