Guanaco (Southern Llama)
Guanacos (Lama guanicoe) are mammals, related to llamas, and members of the biological family Camelidae. They humbly bear the title of biggest land vertebrates in Patagonia. This beautiful specimen used to be, before the arrival of white men, a key ally for native Patagonian Indians’ survival since they ate Guanacos’ flesh and used their fur to make coats. Although Península Valdés is a province reserve, it is not considered an intangible area, reason why 56 ranches have been developing there since the beginning of the XX century commercial activities, mainly ovine breeding and livestock farming.
Mara or Patagonian Hare
It is a rodent that only dwells in Patagonia. They are big, about 70cm tall, and told apart from European hare by their small ears and a white stripe in their back thighs. They are monogamous and many couples frequently look after their calves in the same den.
Mating season starts in June or July and gestation lasts 3 months, that is why during this season is possible to see calves in Península Valdés. When females get impregnated, they build a short tunnel (about one or two metres long) that leads into a bigger irregular den.
Choique (Patagonian Ostrich)
Choiques are endemic to the south of Argentina and they mostly live in the High Andean Steppe. It is in general omnivorous; feeds on leaves mainly, but also on roots and seeds of several plants. It also eats small rodents, chicks of other birds and many insects to complement its diet. They may be 1.10 metres tall and mass/weigh 20kg. Choiques normally move in small groups of 5 to 30 birds, except for mating and breeding season, when groups become bigger. Both, males and females are polygamous (they have many mates).
Piche (Patagonian Armadillo)
Piches are related to Southern long-nosed armadillo and regular armadillos. They like sniffing all the time to look for food. They have very short ears, a convex greyish carapace with cream-coloured borders, about seven movable bands, saw edge and it is covered by a few hairs. They may be seen at day and their behaviour is solitary. Their dens are not very deep and in general located in sandy lands. Their feed on insects, invertebrates, small vertebrates, plants and even carrion.
Grey foxes are known by their solitary, crepuscular and nocturnal habits. In order to shelter and breed their calves they use armadillos’ caves or gaps inside trees. They set limits in the land with faeces and urine. Their diet is wide and opportunistic; it includes mammals, birds, eggs, reptiles, insects and big quantities of fruits and plants
In Península Valdés there are many skunks and they usually get close to ranches and towns; they mainly dwell in surrounding regions near Punta Delgada. This skunk is not as friendly as other kind of skunks; it is usual to see a specimen in its own den. Gestation period lasts 42 days, and about 2-5 calves are born at a time. They suckle using the 3 pairs of breasts the female has. When the calves are three months old, they feed on their own.
Patagonian Small Guinea Pig
Patagonian small guinea pigs (Microcavia australis) are mammals that feed on buds of several plants. They climb bushes’ twigs to reach the most tender leaves. During intercourses, that last about 5 hours, the female is chased by several males and all of them carry out the mating in order to impregnate her. Gestation lasts less than two months for these cute small animals. In spite of being aloof, they may be often seen in some touristic points. Visitors look for places like El Doradillo to be hypnotized by whales, and in the meantime, Patagonian small guinea pigs will be living an anonymous life in some of the bushes that abound nearby. It’ll be a surprise reserved for those who are able to connect with the subtle wonders of this natural paradise.
Along with the arrival of colonization and development in the area, new animals came; one of them was the sheep. In order to breed them and commercialize products derived from them, it was necessary to invent specific devices, such as wire fences, private property and consequently, land partition. Guanacos were no longer required due to this strategy of ovine wool production, and their population decreased significantly. Guanacos live in herds of ten individuals each, and are herbivore. Península Valdés is a unique fauna reserve where hunting is forbidden. As time went by, this effective law helped to increase the number of guanacos up to reach the largest population in Patagonia.