Ctenomyidae- Tucotucos

Meet the Tuco-Tucos, which gets their name from the ‘tuc-tuc’ sound they make while they dig their burrows

Ctenomyidae, commonly known as tuco-tucos, represent an intriguing group of rodents endemic to South America, where they inhabit a diverse array of habitats including grasslands, forests, mountain slopes, pastures, and agricultural fields. These small to medium-sized mammals exhibit remarkable adaptability to their environments, with individuals reaching weights of up to around 700 grams. One of the most distinctive features of tuco-tucos is their loose skin, which is uniquely adapted to facilitate movement within the narrow confines of their intricate burrow systems.

Despite their diminutive stature, tuco-tucos play significant ecological roles within their respective ecosystems. As primary consumers, they contribute to nutrient cycling and soil turnover through their burrowing activities, which aerate the soil and facilitate water infiltration. Additionally, their foraging behaviors influence plant distributions and community composition, making them important components of their local food webs.

Tuco-tucos are primarily nocturnal creatures, exhibiting peak activity levels during the crepuscular periods of dawn and dusk. However, they may occasionally venture out of their burrows during the day, especially under conditions of low predation risk or during periods of high food availability. This flexibility in activity patterns allows them to maximize foraging opportunities while minimizing exposure to potential threats.

Reproductive strategies vary among tuco-tuco species, with individuals typically forming monogamous pairs during the breeding season. Mating occurs annually, and females give birth to litters of anywhere from one to seven offspring after a gestation period of several weeks. The young are precocial, meaning they are born in an advanced state of development and are capable of independent locomotion shortly after birth. This reproductive strategy maximizes the likelihood of offspring survival in the challenging subterranean environment of their burrow systems.