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Coruro - spalacopus cyanus and Spalacopus tabanus

By Heritage-Pets

There are two distinct subspecies of Coruros; at Heritage-pets we keep Spalacopus cyanus. They are a bit smaller than their larger cousin and are only 18-21 cm long from tip of nose to tip of tail, which includes their 5-cm tail. They are rather stocky little animals that range in colour from black to black with a brownish tinge, and their fur is thick shiny and very soft. They have charcoal grey/silver coloured feet, with small claws. Their eyes are large and they have large curved upper incisors and upper molars that protrude and do not meet in the middle. The tail is short, rough and hairless. When fully mature the males weigh 105-110 grams and the females between 95 - 105 grams.In their natural habitat, Coruros are found west of the Andes Mountains in the sandy, coastal provinces of Chile. They tend to live in the drier regions where trees and woody shrubs are almost non existent and the Savannah like terrain supports the grasses, cacti, tuberous plants and other bulb plants that the Coruros thrive on and the landscape is perfect for digging tunnel.

Coruros are social creatures, living in colonies consisting of up to 15 or more members that often consist of more females than males and who are usually related to other members of the group. The colony is usually dominated by one breeding age male that breeds with several of the most dominant females in the group. One of the things we enjoy most about Coruros is that they have a fairly complex communication system. They communicate amongst one another and to us, using a multitude of calls and vocalizations. Their voice is sweet and can be compared to that of many songbirds

They are ‘Fossorial’ mammals, meaning they live underground in a complex burrow system, complete with tunnels, nurseries, food storage rooms, lavatory and rest areas. Their tunnel system is not dug deep. It is only a few inches below the ground, with rooms only a few inches below the tunnels. They are natural diggers and can use their feet and teeth to quickly excavate a complex tunnel system. In the wild, they may spend as much as 90 % of their time in burrows and tunnels only coming out for a brief time, at twilight.

In an attempt to simulate their natural environment we house our Coruros in large 35-50 gallon glass tanks with tight fitting metal lids. We apply an inch or so of children’s sterilized play sand on the floor, then we pile lots of good quality timothy hay and cardboard tubes for them to tunnel through. Metal coffee cans m make great hiding spots (being that they are constant chewers nothing else seems to last long). We give them fresh willow and fruit tree branches to chew on and we do offer them exercise wheels which the do seem to enjoy. Because of their nesting and housekeeping instincts it does not take long for the wheels and other tank furnishings to become buried as they are constantly re-arranging their tank.

Their natural diet consists mostly of tubers, bulbs, plant roots, grasses and a few weedy plants; however in captivity they will consume a fair bit of grains. We don’t feed much fruit we do offer a constant supply of grain, rodent blocks and a few dog kibbles. Daily, they receive leafy green, lots of root vegetables, grasses and a few varieties of succulent plants that we grow in our own garden. Coruros are food hoarders! It is important to check their stock piles on a regular basis to remove any excess food items that could spoil.

Water is a must and needs to be available at all times, We offer water in open shallow dishes and also in water bottles. Both are used but it does not take them long to fill their water bowls and by providing water bottles we feel more secure in knowing that they won’t run out of water as often.

Breeding Coruros in captivity can be a challenge. They are slow to reach sexual maturity and don’t start breeding until they are 8 months of age. They have a long gestation period averaging around 77 days and they give birth to small litters. Litter size cab vary between 1-5 young but 2 sometimes 3, is more the norm. The young are born fully formed and their eyes start to open when they are only 3-4 days old. Pups are weaned when they are around 45-50 grams which under ideal conditions is when they around 42 days old.

Coruros are extremely rare in North America. They are relatively expensive and hard to find. We do not offer them as pets. From time to time we may have breeding pairs that are available to specialized and dedicated breeders..

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