Photo of Paca



The Paca (Cuniculus paca) is a medium-sized rodent with a distinctive appearance, featuring dark spots on a reddish-brown coat. Native to Belize, these nocturnal mammals are known for their herbivorous diet.

Interesting Facts

  • Scientific Name: Cuniculus paca
  • Habitat: Inhabits various environments in Belize, including forests and grasslands.
  • Diet: Herbivores, feeding on fruits, nuts, and vegetation; play a role in seed dispersal.
  • Behavior: Nocturnal and solitary; characterized by their large size and unique coloration; conservation efforts focus on maintaining their populations in Belize.

Fun Facts

  • The paca is famously known as the “royal rat” because its meat was served to the Queen Elizabeth II when she visited Belize
  • Pacas have an eye feature called tapetum lucidum that enhances their vision at night, allowing them to see well in darkness
  • Like all rodents, pacas’ teeth continuously grow throughout their lifetimes; they constantly wear them down by grinding them, and by eating hard nuts and fruit
  • In Belize they like to eat the nuts of the cohune palm
  • Pacas practice enurination whereby the male paca urinates on the female paca to establish dominance.
  • They are good swimmers and may even mate in water! Pacas are one of the most important prey for jaguars in Belize

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