Exotic Animal, Native To South America, Seen Roaming Colorado Country Side

Exotic Animal, Native To South America, Seen Roaming Colorado Countryside

Who knew that invasive species could be this cute? Okay, so this exotic animal isn't an invasive species (since right now there's only one of them), but it is a long ways from home. No, that wasn't a squirrel you saw in the Colorado countryside. It's a super adorable rodent that's native to South America.

Wildlife officials are looking for the exotic animal, Patagonian mara. A Patagonian mara is a tiny rodent that's only two to three feet. It looks a bit like someone mixed together a rabbit, squirrel, and mouse. Recently, park rangers as well as visitors at Bear Creek Lake Park noticed the creature. Since it's so far way from home, officials want to save the exotic animal before it ends up a snack.

"They are a larger species of rodent, even though they've got ears that are pretty long like a rabbit and legs that look almost like a deer," Denver Zoo animal care specialist Kat Emanuel told 9 News. So far, however, officials have struggled to capture the little rodent. Their hopes is to trap the creature and help it find a new home. You see, Patagonian mara generally live in the grasslands of southern Argentina. The creature is unlikely to do well especially when Colorado winter hits.

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Exotic Animal On The Loose

To make matters worse, officials consider the species in the "near threatened" category. With proper care, the rodent can live up to 14 years. How did it end up in the United States? Well, it's likely someone brought the exotic animal to America as a pet.  "It could be concerning. That kind of behavior, he's probably not used to keeping an eye out for a lot of dangers in his environment if this is the case," Emily Insalaco, senior director of animal care at the Denver Zoo said.

So far, officials have set traps in the park using "a combination of fruits and vegetables" to try to entice the creature. They want to ensure the safety of the animal. "We don't know because we don't know anything about the animal itself," Insalaco said. "We don't know its temperament. The main thing would be to get it somewhere safe and make sure it's healthy and then we can go from there."

Officials also want to determine how it got here in the first place. They urge park guests not to approach the animal but to report it.