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Jan 31 2014

A Parched Peruvian Paca

So, what have I got for you for this Foto Friday?  Ah, a real treat… something cute AND funny, having sifted through a load of old photos.  That’s the great thing about going back through old photos and videos; you find little gems, like this one.  It’s one of things I experienced on my travels that I had forgotten about.

OK, so let me explain by setting the scene.  I had left Cusco and was heading to Machu Picchu, as many a traveller does.  I didn’t take the usual Inca Trail route; I went a different way.  On Day 1 of our journey, we stopped off at what can only be described as my idea of heaven – farms that produce coffee and chocolate (cacao).

While we were stopped at the one of them, we met a rather interesting creature.  It looked like a large rodent, but it seemed to be more like a pet.  Well, as you can see from the photograph, it looks pretty domesticated with pride of place on a table, curious about us newcomers, and showing off its skills.

As you can see, it can securely hold a bottle of orange.  But, ‘what is this large rat-like creature?, I hear you ask. Well, it’s a Mountain Paca (Cuniculus taczanowskii/Agouti taczanowskii).  According to Wikipedia, they are nocturnal, solitary animals which typically live in the Andes and prefer a cold mountain climate.  This one seemed to buck the trend because it certainly wasn’t shy and seemed to enjoy the attention.  It was also sweltering hot that day, so I can only assume this was a very thirsty mountain paca because, when we arrived, it was drinking from a plastic cup and then moved on to the bottle of orange you can see the photos.

Cute?  Yes.

Bizarre?  Yes.

Funny?  Very.

We might have been on a coffee and cacao farm, but this little (or not so little) fella really stole the show, as I’m sure you can imagine.

I don’t normally use two photographs for Foto Friday’s but I decided to today, just in case you thought the first one was of a toy or stuffed animal.  As you can see, this is a real mountain paca that actually holds and drinks from the bottle itself, without any assistance… clever, huh?

Sadly, the number of mountain pacas is dwindling because they are hunted for their meat, which is considered a delicacy, and their habitat is being destroyed.


The two coffee and chocolate farms were located at Huayopata and Huacayupana on the way to Santa Teresa.  You can get a rough idea of where they are located on this map…

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Have your say

Have you come across a mountain paca?  Have you seen an animal drink like this?  If so, what was it and where?  As always, I’d love to hear from you!

About the author

Teresa Keane

Teresa has been to almost 60 countries. She started travelling independently at the age of 38 when she gave up her job, rented out her house, put her possessions in storage and spent a year travelling the world. It changed her life. She now creates, publishes, & promotes online travel content and is an experienced freelance trainer & EFL teacher.


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  1. Mrs. Chasing the Donkey

    Ohhh my gosh, he is so so so so cute. I want to take him home as a pet. I’d love if you linked this up with us tomorrow.


    He was really cute, Sarah. I absolutely loved meeting that mountain paca. It was one of the highlights of the trip. Thanks for the invite, by the way!


  3. Nina

    I thought it was a rat first! Such a cute animal, great picture you took of it. First time I’ve heard of a mountain paca, seems like a clever animal.


    It is far cuter than a rat, Nina, and so much bigger. I had no idea what this huge rat-like thing was either and had to do some research to find out. I just hope they don’t end up on the endangered list because they are hunted for their meat and their habitat is being destroyed.

    Thanks for commenting!

    Best wishes, Teresa.

  5. A Southern Gypsy

    Ohhhhhh my goodness! I want him…can you send him to me?! Thanks for linking up to #SundayTraveler! 🙂

  6. Mrs. Chasing the Donkey

    Ohh yay, so glad you linked up with us for #SundayTraveler! I told my husband about this critter, he made me show him.

  7. Emma

    What a sweet thirsty beast! 🙂


    You’re welcome. Thanks for the invite. I just wish the badge showed up properly.


    Yes, Emma, it certainly was.


    You’re welcome! I’m thinking of becoming its manager, as it soars to fame.

  11. Jess

    Ha, I was totally wondering if he was a stuffed animal. I don’t think I’ve even heard of a paca before – but now I want one!

  12. Travis

    Very cool! I saw a Paca in the rainforest in Belize when I was there doing research. They are very interesting to watch out in the wild – obviously they have some real personality too! Thanks for sharing and safe travels!

  13. Lunaguava

    That little fella wins the cuteness award! Great photos of him hydrating 🙂 Good luck!


    I thought that might be the case, Jess, which is why I included the other photo. I hadn’t seen nor heard of one either until then. It was the cutest thing!

    Thanks for leaving a comment! Teresa.

  15. frankaboutcroatia

    Lol, that mountain paca with a bottle of what it looks like Gatorade looks really funny. And then drinking it like a man. Great photos! Thanks for linking up to the #SundayTraveler.


    You’re welcome. It was great being part of #SundayTraveler. Thanks for your comment!



    Yes, he should win the cuteness award. Thanks for commenting; I appreciate it!



    Ah, I haven’t seen one in the wild, but I’d love to. If this paca was anything to go by, they are full of personality! Thanks for your comment, Travis!


  19. Eva

    I have the same photos from my trip to Peru in 2002 – different animal in a different location though. This photo makes me sad as it confirms that these cute little fizzy-drinking wild (!) animals may have started a (business) trend when the locals realized that this cute sighting attracts tourists. So these cute little pacas could actually be captured in the wild purely for this reason. Fact is, fizzy drinks are not good for them and they belong in the wild. I was too young and uneducated when I was in Peru. Today, I would do things differently, definitely not support this, possibly try and talk to the owner, educate myself in regards to the natural diet of the creature and explain to the people why they are harmng this animal in more than one way…

  20. Teresa Keane

    That is a very good point, Ewa, thank you. While trekking, in the middle of nowhere, we just came across this plantation. To be honest, there were no other tourists around, so I don’t know how many people actually pass. I don’t know how this animal came to be living with them, nor did I realise that what it had was a fizzy drink. This definitely shouldn’t be condoned or encouraged. You are absolutely right. I will certainly be looking into this.

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