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Ctenomys dorsalis - Chacoan Tuco-tuco

Physical Description:

Members of the genus Ctenomys are small fossorial rodents, with broad, thick incisors, small eyes, short thick pelage, and large claws, similar to pocket gophers in the genus Geomyidae. The family and genus name, meaning ‘comb foot’, is derived from the presence of stiff hairs around the soles and toes of the rear feet, used for grooming (Feldhammer 2004). While no written description of C. dorsalis could be found, a photo shows it with a brownish head and rump and white midsection (Baretto 2003).  


The Chacoan tuco-tuco (C. dorsalis) is found in the northern Chaco of Paraguay, west of the River Paraguay (Wilson 1993). 

Ontogeny and Reproduction:

Information unavailable.

Ecology and Behavior:

Ctenomyids are colonial, burrowing rodents, constructing networks of burrows, which can become quite extensive (Feldhammer 2004). The Chacoan Tuco-Tuco prefers more open habitats, and deforestation and predator reduction in its range is causing the species to become more prevalent in some parts of its range (Baretto 2003). 


The Chacoan Tuco-tuco was listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources’ (IUNC) Red List of Threatened Species in 1996. However, it has been recognized as a species of low risk and least concern (Baillie 1996). This endemic species is reaching pest status with ranchers due to increases in population resulting from deforestation and conversion to pasture (Baretto 2003).

Research has shown that C. dorsalis is ecologically important for the recycling of nutrients. Its networks of burrows allow for quick absorption of vegetative litter and fecal matter, awhile helping keep soil humidity at a level which promotes decomposition. This impact on nutrient cycling can have an impact on the vegetation present.  C. doralis’ burrows can also make an area more susceptible to severe fire damage from what otherwise would be superficial burns (Baretto 2003). 

Literature Cited:

Baillie, J. 1996. Ctenomys dorsalis. In: IUCN 2004. 2004 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. <>. Downloaded on 05 December 2005.

Baretto, Rocío, et al. 2003. Proyecto “Areas Prioritarias para la Conservación en CincoEcorregiones de America Latina” Ecorregión Chaco Seco Paraguayo. CDC-Paraguay. 85 pp. ,  Last Viewed December 5, 2005.

Feldhammer, George A., L.C. Drickamer, S.H. Vessey, and J.F Merritt. 2004. Mammalogy: Adaptation, Diversity, and Ecology, Second Edition. McGraw-Hill, Mew York, NY. 550 pp.

InfoNatura: Birds, mammals, and amphibians of Latin America [web application]. 2004. Version 4.1 . Arlington, Virginia (USA): NatureServe. Available: (Accessed: December 5, 2005 ).

Wilson, D. E., and D. M. Reeder (eds).  1993.  Mammal Species of

   the World. Smithsonian Institution Press, 1206 pp

Reference written by Adam Schumacher, Biol 378 (Mammalogy), University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point:  Edited by Chris Yahnke. Page last updated 7-31-06

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